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Left Brain – Right Brain

May 30, 2013

We now have access to several decades of research about the function of the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

For a brief but powerful summary of this research I have drawn on the work of psychiatrist and author Ian McGilchrist in the following 2 paragraphs:

The brain operates as a dynamic, interactive system much like the musicians in an orchestra. Shifts in brain function and mental activity may involve, as Nobel prize-winner Roger Sperry has explained, ‘up-down, front-back, or various other organisational changes as well as left-right differences.’

Functions such as reason and imagination actually require the synthesis of complex processing in both hemispheres. However, there are differences between the hemispheres (in birds, animals and humans) which relate to differences in the quality of attention. Evolution appears to have designed a brain that allows us to both focus very specifically ( left brain ) and also to maintain a very broad awareness (right brain). This, at the very least, might offer improved chances of survival.

There is also a suggestion that the left brain therefore tends to give us a sense of our identity as an individual, separate from everyone and everything else, while the right brain tends to give us a sense of our identity as a connected field of consciousness.

A skillful and effective life path requires the synthesis of both in order to allow conscious creativity, non-attachment to outcomes and an experience of wellbeing to co-exist within each person.

This is generally a slow and lengthy process. There are many techniques and methods that support the unfolding of this process and chief among them are the following:

Engagement with basic survival and health needs; self enquiry (“who am I?”); awareness of breathing and the body; attention to the present moment and the wanderings of the mind away from the present moment; right community; compassionate thought and action; self-expression; connection to the heart; regular enjoyment of simple pleasures; laughing often – especially when the world is too big or confusing to comprehend.

Spencer Joseph

  1. EMDR (eye movement and d. reprossessing) is excellent for binding them together 🙂

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