“All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.” ~ Leonardo Da Vinci
The hemispheres of the brain could be seen to represent this dualistic reality in which we live. And their secrets? The key to unlocking the most obscure mysteries of human capabilities.
We are all pretty well acquainted with the idea of the lateralization of brain function; where certain actions such as kicking a football has one hemisphere of the brain more dominant than the other.
We are also probably familiar with the fact that the right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and is intuitive; appreciating music, art and imagination, and the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body; encouraging analytical thought, numeracy, language and logic.
So we can already assume that in balancing our habitual actions we might work towards balancing the use of both hemispheres. But because our whole society is geared towards the left hemisphere of the brain, it’s much more tricky than that (in Victorian England, for example, they used to cane children who wrote with their left hands).
Because much of our intuition and imaginative capabilities are suppressed, or in the intuitive person their creativity ignored because they are unable to form arguments into logical progressions that are listened to and are accessible for the mainstream, we can begin to appreciate how exploring the hemispheres is actually so much more about implementing a greater understanding of the spectrum of human understanding. And that is just within the realms of the healthy or un-traumatized person.
The shamanic approach to trauma has many parallels with the neurological approach; the idea that the soul (or brain) has fragmented and (the ability to reason has) actually vacated or gotten lost in the body, leaving the brain stuck in fight or flight mode where the person replays the traumatic event over and over again:
“Traumatic memories stay “stuck” in the brain’s nether regions–the nonverbal, nonconscious, subcortical regions (amygdala, thalamus, hippocampus, hypothalamus and brain stem)–where they are not accessible to the frontal lobes–the understanding, thinking, reasoning parts of the brain. The paradox at the heart of trauma: they see and feel only their trauma, or they see and feel nothing at all.” ~ Theresa Burke Ph.D
A rewiring of the hemispheres and reunion of the frontal lobes with those traumatic memories can be achieved through therapy… or shamanic ritual. But the general idea is to allow the fragments of the body, and soul, to reunite and the individual to become whole again.
With so many people in this traumatized state to varying degrees – even those who experienced neglect that went unnoticed by society and that individual is expected to perform as everyone else – it’s not surprising that so many individuals suffer from depression.
The fragmentation that so many people experience stops them from performing simple acts that they should have been taught as children, such as the fundamental aspects of looking after ourselves. They get overwhelmed and go under.
Balancing the hemispheres can increase our understanding (of those experiencing some degree of trauma, or the ‘other’ in general – are any of us ‘whole’?) , and therefore compassion for one another therefore leading to harmonious relationships on a macro and micro cosmic scale.
This would then potentially lead to the integration of dualistic forms within our reality. It could be the key to lifting us into higher dimensions and resolving many human conflicts on a personal (which then leads to a global) scale.
Here are 3 methods to bringing the hemispheres into sync with each other, and encouraging the individual to become whole, methods that can be practiced throughout the day:
A fun exercise is to first write down ten qualities (or faults) you attribute to yourself with your dominant hand.
Then write the same list but with your ‘weak’ hand.
Compare the two.
Analyze subjectively. This may tell you a lot about your patterns; what you are addicted to. Are the two lists at odds with one another, and in what way? Are they similarly self pitying or equally arrogant. Experiment.
Have a conversation with your hemispheres
Write a question with your dominant hand and let the weaker side reply. Ask it questions about problems you have been unable to solve for years. Ask it questions about your problems with the opposite (or same) sex, ask it questions about your patterns with people.
Ask about your reactions to childhood events and what the alternatives could’ve been. Play and explore, it can reveal so much and it can be on the same level as having an out-of-body experience. All you need to know is waiting there in your body for you to unlock it.
The visualization of becoming whole during meditation can have wonderful effects. It is advisable to do this alongside becoming completely present (through vipassana or object focus) rather than letting one dominate the entire session.
Experiment with how you cup your hands in your lap. Imagine the right hand cupping the left signifies the masculine element in you supporting the feminine and vice versa. How does this feel? Is there an aversion to one side?
Notice your posture. Are you slumping to one side? Do you tend to look to one side and what does this mean for you? Is one shoulder sore etc… After noticing these little imbalances that is the body reflecting the mind, accept them, and then gradually and lovingly bring them into alignment and balance with the other side.
Complete a chakra clearing and then visualize your entire body in balance with itself. Say aloud ‘I am whole,’ or ‘I am becoming whole and retrieving all fragmented parts of myself.’ ‘I am a balanced and grounded individual’.
Throughout the day notice how you may favour one side (turning on the tap with a certain hand, leading with your left foot etc) and do the opposite.
Also try slowing down or speeding up certain actions to experiment with how that feels and how it might trigger certain emotions or new perspectives.
QiGong or Tai Chi and yoga are also excellent pathways to accessing imbalances in the body and working towards righting them.
Nostril or Kundalini Breathing
Alternating nostrils in order to clear blocked and stagnant energies is similar to using the opposite side of the body when noticing our habitual actions as described in the last method.
Alternating the nostril use relates to alternating the use of which hemisphere we are using, therefore balancing them out. It may also help you to use a neti pot if only to experiment with the ritual of alternate breathing and clean out your sinuses.
In using alternate nostril breathing alongside our yoga or kundalini practices, we connect to our kundalini source energy which is activated at the base of the spine and forms the integration of the two dualities or hemispheres, bridging the gap between separation.
In doing these exercises we might begin to work towards becoming our true selves; ambidextrous, androgynous and bisexual… just joking… In balancing hemispheres we may become whole brained. In short, a genius.
As Jill Bolte-Taylor touches on in this video, in having a breakdown of our left hemispheres we can unlock our spiritual experiences where we are not separate from our environment and balance the ‘I am’ problematic chatter of the left hemisphere.
In balancing the left hemisphere with the right, we can experience our oneness with our environment yet function from an ‘I am’ perspective, if only to enable a wonderful expression of our senses and put forward our contribution to the world.