We are all kittens crashing into the coffee table leg

I remember in university that we were presented with an experiment on cats and what came be to be called “critical window”.

They raised kittens in an environment that was exclusively vertical or horizontal. The kittens would only experience a surrounding with vertical traits for a period of time of 3 months and would later be blind to horizontal objects. The same tests on adult cats for a whole year, would not change the cat’s capacity to see different objects compared to a “normal” cat.

The study received a Nobel price and has been very useful in understanding what we call a critical window. This means that we have a window early in life when we need to experience visually things in order to integrate them in our brains so that we can actually see them, understand them later in life. Bedouins, in the Sahara desert, have developed a capacity to register horizontal activity much more effectively than your average Joe, but are slow in reacting to vertical movements. Tribes in the Amazon, however, have developed the opposite skill. Some even proclaim that the indigenous people in what we call America today, couldn’t perceive the ships as Columbus approached the shore, because they had never been exposed to such a sight before.

Our brain learns very early in life how to perceive the world and will have great difficulties to change that view later in life.

With this in mind, imagine what the consequences to any kind of “one sighted” teaching in early life will do to us as adults. Maybe the easiest example is simply our native language. We are exposed to it, and often only it, for a rather long critical window. But there is no reason we couldn’t learn several languages as we start out in life. However, as adults it becomes very hard to learn a new language, if this “learning” has not been stimulated since the early years. It explains why older generations have greater difficulties to speak a foreign language, like let’s say English, compared to the younger people in the same country. In most (non English speaking)countries, having English as a subject early in school years is a rather modern phenomenon.

Let’s take this into more complexed perceptions; like gender roles, social skills or the image we have of ourselves.

All of a sudden we can begin to comprehend the reasons people can’t understand each other. Their world views aren’t the same. “Vertically” raised people will find it hard to even imagine the things “horizontally” raised people are banging their heads against the wall in trying to explain.

The way we behave with other people is then also vertical or horizontal, which would bring us clarity on why some of us are completely oblivious to how we treat others.

With that in mind, replace the idea that you are raised to see everything vertical with a specific parental dynamic.

Imagine that you are raised in an environment where all male-female (i.e. your parents) relationships are loving, harmonious and equal.

As an adult, all you would see, all you could understand should therefore be these kind of dynamics. Any romantic relationship that doesn’t correspond to what your eye has been trained to see, will basically not be visible to you.

Yet, one of our biggest obstacle for forming a relationship is our fear that it will not be loving, harmonious and equal.

Basically, like kittens crashing into the coffee table leg because they have been taught only to see horizontal traits:

if we have not been taught something, it really is quite impossible to do it.

But it doesn’t mean it can’t change. It just means that it takes revolutionary work.

Revolutionary because you need to change the set filters you have been looking at the world through since day 1.

Start with understanding why you do what you do. From there, it’s simple. Not necessarily easy, but simple.

This is the base to THE SELF IMAGE PROJECT, my online course in three parts.

  1. understand the way the mind functions, how you came to be who you are
  2. Get a clearer understanding on why in adult life you react the way you do
  3. Receive the tools to rewire for new habits

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞