Dec 03 2009
Are you in your ‘right’ mind, in a spacious place, tasting life anew in the Now? Or are you in your left mind, stuck out in left field, munching on rehashed leftovers? That’s what our left brain does — it recycles mind chatter and generates a wall of words that separates us from the peace and stillness of our right brain. We can’t function in the world without our left brain, we need it for language, numbers, structure, and boundaries; but sometimes we get trapped within those boundaries. In the book ‘My Stroke of Insight’, brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor writes about her massive stroke that blew out the left hemisphere of her brain. With the din of her left brain quieted, she was immersed in the expansive, present-moment, right brain hemisphere — the portal to a peaceful paradise. She paints a vivid and fascinating picture of her experience.
I have found that my left brain can be like a manic hamster on a wheel, going round and round, spinning yarns, worries, and what ifs, ad nauseum. It is so dizzying that I need a drama-mine pill — a reality pill to remind me that this drama is mine and what traps me in the drama is the spin I am putting on things, the stories I am constantly recycling. The left brain loves drama. Stinking thinking, judgments, catastrophizing, shoulding on ourselves and others, these are all left brain past times, and future times — anywhere but here and now times.
On the other side, the right brain is right here, right now, feeling peaceful and calm, experiencing oneness and union and a sense that all’s right with the world. Being in the right brain is like taking a chill pill, “I’m cool. Life is good. Everything is One-derful.”
I think that there is a certain beauty to the design. The hell of left brain feelings of discord, worry and separation instills in us an impetus to seek the heaven of right brain feelings of peace and union. It could be all part of the divine plan to motivate us to find our way back Home. When I’m out in ‘left’ field, judging, worrying, and criticizing, I am compelled by the discomfort of that place to take a field trip to find the wordless, wondrous, spacious place of my right mind where I think not, therefore I AM. As Rumi so eloquently put it:
“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field, I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.”
How do we get to that field? First notice and identify where you are; when you hear yourself judging and spinning yarns, when you’re aware that scurrying, worrying thoughts are spinning on the wheel in your mind, know that you are in your left hemisFEAR. Take the wheel and turn to the right, telling yourself, “Right here, right now is all there is, and right now all is well — breathe, relax, trust.” The left-brain chatter quiets, the body relaxes and you become peacefully encircled in the serene embrace of the right-brain hemiSHERE.
There are many other ways to quiet left brain chatter and turn on right brain peace, such as prayer, meditation, tai chi, yoga, walks in nature, breath work, and calling on your faith in a higher power. However, the most fun and joyous way for me is to sing and dance and play. Reverend Michael Beckwith says that praying and playing are the same energetic. That makes sense, since they are both in the realm of the right brain. Playfulness is next to godliness.
Every morning I sing and dance and play to the Beatles song, “Twist and Shout”. “Well shake it up baby now. Twist and Shout!” I shake my body like a dog shakes water off its’ fur; this shakes free left hemisFEARs and tensions, and wakes my spirit right up — it is shake and wake time!
Sometimes when I find myself lost in “poor little me” thoughts, feeling unloved, unlovable, and ‘left’ out, I tickle myself awake by singing The Worm Song:
“Nobody likes me. Everybody hates me.
I’m gonna go eat worms.
Long thin, slimey ones; short, fat, juicy ones.
Itsy, bitsy, squirmy little worms.”
Humor is a great waker upper and before I know it I have lightened up and transformed a can of worms into butterflies!
When I notice that I am worrying, fretting, and forgetting the big picture, I shift myself by singing this song I wrote (along with my friend Nicola Gordon) to the tune of The Ants go Marching One by One. It’s called The Now Song. Sing along with me!
“There’s nothing I have to do today, hurrah, hurrah.
There’s nothing I have to do or say, hurrah, hurrah.
Just be in the NOW all the way.
That’s all I have to do today.
Breathe in, Breathe out,
Sing and dance and play.”
That always brings me right here, right now. What are ways you bring yourself into the spacious field of right-brained peace, unity and well-being? I’ll meet you there!