IF I’M USING MY RIGHT BRAIN, WHICH ONE’S LEFT?

I’m pretty sure Hawkeye never severed a corpus callosum on M.A.S.H., so I’m sure finding someone who has was on his bucket list when the show ended.  When a corpus callosum is cut, the two halves of the brain can’t communicate and operate totally separately.  The video outlines some experiments that have been done with a guy who’s had his cut.  It’s given us interesting insight into the differences in function between the left and right.

It turns out that our left brains are more concerned with analysis of cause, effect, interpretation, and explaining things.  Logic and reason are the strength of the left brain.  It seeks to break things down into their individual components and figure out mechanisms of how or why things work.  Modern medicine operates almost exclusively in this hemisphere.  This is reinforced at the end of the video where the Dr. Mike is clearly bias toward the left brain, which is not surprising given his vocation as a researcher.  Math and science are realms that lend themselves to the left brain.

The right brain recognizes patterns.  It’s not concerned about the details, what happened in the past, or what may or may not happen tomorrow.  It just perceives in the present.  This is where our perceptive, creative, and intuitive brainpower comes from.  This is the hemisphere where many of the alternative healing arts operate.  The arts are experienced in the right hemisphere.

So why am I writing about it?  Well, this division of labour has consequences on our health, and learning how to navigate between the two can be tremendously helpful for many of us – both patients and physicians.

Take anxiety or insomnia as an example.  If you’ve ever found yourself lying in bed awake, and your mind is racing over the details of what happened yesterday, what may happen tomorrow, and what you need to the next day, that’s your left brain in a death spiral.  You can’t talk or reason your way out of that spiral.  That’s like pouring water into a pool to help someone who’s drowning.  What you need to do is get into your right brain.  This is done by brining your awareness to what your body is feeling in the present.  There are many ways to do this.  Deep breathing, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, integrated body psychotherapy, biofeeback, meditation.. the list goes on.  It’s helpful to consult with a professional at first to help guide you through the process, but you’ll find that over time, you’ll be able to snap yourself out of it quite easily.  I use a combination of some of the above, particularly breathing and progressive muscle relaxation.

In my opinion we were given both hemispheres for a reason.  Why limit yourself to half a brain?  We have been given a tremendous ability to reason, interpret, and analyze.  We’ve also been given highly sensitive and accurate perceptions, intuitive abilities, and artistic expression.  You’ll likely resonate a bit more with one or the other (I’ve always been a bit more of a lefty), but I encourage you to open your mind and give your other half a chance.  You may be surprised at how much richer life can be.

Bryn



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