Simultaneously (once again) « Vlastimil Marek

Simultaneously (once again)

10.10.2013

Both brain hemispheres equally – or the two sides of the same coin. I do have a favourite word which I have written about before – my English speaking friends used to be pleasantly surprised whenever I used it (my grasp of English then was limited to what I could learn by reading or listening in English) – it’s the word „simultaneously“. At the same time. Concurrently. This follow up article will look into the confusion of meanings, semantics and the development trends, caused by growing specialization of our brain hemispheres (and the gradual segregation of how we use them in our lives) – where not just metaphorically, the right hand doesn’t know what the right hemisphere is thinking, and vice versa. Because as we already know, the left hemisphere „controls“ the right side of the body, or the right hand in this case, and the right hemisphere controls the left. But more than anything I would like to show you how it could be changed for the better and for the benefit of human kind.

Things were still relatively in order while the European civilization has been evolving somewhat evenly – when the belief (represented by spirituality or religion) went hand in hand with development of science. The priests were involved in the advancing sciences and the alchemists profoundly believed in their principles. The painters were mixing their own colours and sculptors were chopping off bit by bit using the simplest tools and hard work of their own hands. The Cartesian way of thinking was not present yet, but once it established itself, it translated into elimination of everything that could not be proven by tangible means. What could not be proven in measurable way (possible to repeat over and over at will, to convince even the hardest of doubting Thomases) was declared as non existent. What an absurd thought – science is just one side of the coin and only one way of looking at things. Eliminating something just because you’re not able to prove it with the tools you have at your disposal right now is a sheer nonsense. The ancient Greeks were interested in logic and arithmetic but once a year they went to Eleusis, where they drank hallucinogenic potions and listened to „new age“ music (i.e. they were developing their right brain hemispheres.). The generation of modern neuroscientists (finally – after a few hundreds of years of specialization) tests and study connections between neurons, but only handful of them actually practices their mind through physical means – meditation or tai chi.

The different functions of left and right parts of the human brain have been studied by neuroscience for over half a century, writes Benjamin Kuras in his review of the book by Ian McGilchrist The Master and His Emissary, The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World (btw, Roger W. Sperry received Nobel Prize for this discovery, in 1982). That’s what I’ve been waiting for. Finally, there is a sensible historical summary of crisis of the western civilization, which is a direct consequence of western use of human mind, i.e. segregated and specialized, which is mostly focused on the „logical“ left brain thinking, rather than the right brain, let alone using both sides evenly to their full potential. How many years have I been saying this (I’ve had part written this article about 6 months ago, apparently waiting for last pieces to come together!), that the western mind is dominated by the left brain hemisphere thinking? Kuras further writes: the left brain thinking is more prominent in western civilization than in any other, and is the main reason behind the grand creativity which is interwoven with terrifying destructive powers.

More than 30 years ago, with my students during my seminars, I have started practising various alternative methods how to employ and synchronize both sides of the brain – for example, the rhytmic tapping exercise used by drummers to coordinate their left and right hand (R, L, L, = right, left, left – R, L, L, R, L) repeated over and over (and with variations) until it’s automated with no mistakes. Try it – you may be surprised how synchronized you are not). Another method I like to practice is dowsing, or searching for water or geopathogenic zones using a forked wire (one for the sceptics), as well as tree hugging (and perfect balance and slow-down of left brain which enables the right brain to open up to receiving the energy and signals from the subconscious). My other favourite methods are slow meditative walk, mantras chanting and overtone singing – all of these enable more perfect synchronization between both sides of the brain.

Also, it was discovered at the same period in the 80’s, that men and women function differently: they have different way of thinking, perceiving and motivations and thus their behaviours are different but there is so much more than I can summarize in one sentence. However I do remember all too well, how I’ve been shouted at by those „righteous“ intelectuals and feminists that they’ve never heard such nonsense and that I should shut up. Yes, where are they all now. Science has proven over those years that for instance if a mathematician (by definition, using predominantly left/logical brain) also takes up playing a musical instrument or painting (i.e. something creative, right hemisphere oriented), he achieves much better results in the professional sphere as a mathematician.  

I have also mentioned the advantage of various new adrenaline sports (mostly invented by the young and fearless) which result in growing neuron connectors to connect both brain hemispheres – this I’m sure also translates to every part of their lives, more intense and richer life experiences. I am trying to say that Zen practice and natural (best if orgasmic) births are two sides of the same coin, holding the key to the solution of our problem with seggregation of western mind and thinking.

Let’s go through some specific examples to recap the summary (best read aloud which will engage both left – visual and right – auditory hemispheres): The right brain lives, perceives, visualizes and creates, the left brain explains, rationalizes and labels objects or functions. The right brain follows the world in its wider sense in all its consequences and processes, while left brain focuses and specializes on the fine detail but doesn’t care about the purpose or the context. The right brain thinks of people and their stories as something indivisible, while left brain thinks impersonally and in categories. Right brain likes to investigate the unknown, left brain reduces it into the respective categories of knowledge, using pre-defined doctrines and dogmas. The right brain enjoys the challenges, paradoxes or the incongruous without the need to judge or define clear answers, while the left brain has the need to seggregate each perception and experience into its right one for archiving and judges which is correct, incorrect or absurd. Right brain is the creator, left brain is the custodian and the bureaucrat. Right brain is inquisitive about new information, the left brain processes it into known and pre-programmed formats. The right brain presents true reality, the left brain presents the idea of how the reality should be. Right brain works with metaphores, the left brain reduces them to cliches. The right brain can be inspired by reality and hungers for knowledge, the left brain needs to control the reality and hungers for power. And so on and so forth… tell me, does it remind you of somehting, someone? If you cover all of the right brain explanations and read out the left ones, tell me what do you see? Governments or politicians? Ruthless bankers? Bureaucrats or sceptics?

In the original article Kuras analyzes in detail the author’s arguments and furthermore names historical events and discoveries which were significant in relation to seggregation of our brain hemispheres. The world which is ruled by left brain (i.e. people using mostly left brain for processing) will according to McGilchrist look like this (again please read aloud and after each item think of the potential consequences for all of us): If the world is ruled by left brain, the technology and specialization will be everywhere. The true understanding will be replaced by a lot of information without values. There will be lack of trust in knowledge, expertise and wisdom gained through direct experiences and disrespect to practical abilities. Loss of good judgement, replaced by obsession with trivia. Technology will be the tool for manipulation of the world, accompanied by bureaucracy as a system of abstract and total control. Mechanical view of living things as something easily replaceable. Material things will matter more than a human life. Impersonalization of relationships. Exploitation instead of cooperation. Trust replaced by paranoia. Governments struggle for total control over everything and everybody. Again… does it remind you of something? You do understand now why I so tirelessly promote the methods and ways to spirituality and enlightenment (as well as natural orgasmic births).

Going back to spirituality and options we have, we can absolutely use our left brain efficiently while at the same time we focus more on the right brain activity, as only by using both we can be (use)full – like examples from Buddhism and specifically Zen show us is possible by employing creative methods into our daily rut – it’s not only new sports, but also calligraphy, music, koans, martial arts and lots more.

I have tried this on myself: while I was young, the society as well as my mother lead me towards the left brain thinking, but my extatic experiences with music, reading, painting and other right hemisphere oriented disciplines kept telling me that the reason and logic are not the only ways of the world. And I was stubborn about it and eventually it was the music and Zen where I’ve discovered the ideal methods how to train my brain and be efficient but at the same time (simultaneously) not let myself be controlled by it. I’ve arrived at the realization that instead of repairing the damage done to us, we should strive not to get damaged in the first place, and that has to start at (natural, undamaged) birth… as the very beginning of existence.