All Hail the Right Brain!

Or, On the Research of Choosing You.

Neuroscientists have been doing a lot of good work for those of us who consider ourselves creative, artistic and “right-brained.”

Personally, I think we are all this way!

This is fantastic news. Yes, our scientist friends are discovering that the Right Brain– with its power to love, mourn, sigh, gaze in wonder at forsythia blooming, or to even retreat in the face of dire stress — is the “Master” of our experiences.

There are many good books on this at the moment, all apparently written by men (!) and scientists, taking varying different paths. I recommend you read one or all, to think about your mind in a different way.

Brain Food

Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom, by Rick Hanson, PhD with Richard Mendius, M.D. seems to be a sort of “super-uber-meta” guide to these brain studies, yet written in understandable, everyday English. Hanson and Mendius compile over 200 (yes I did count!) scholarly references and boil them down to create the argument that neuroscience and meditative practice together prove: you can use your mind to reshape your brain, and achieve more happiness.

Then there’s best-selling author Daniel H. Pink making the argument in A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future for why artists and creatives will have the upper hand as those who rely on a linear frame work decline.

Artists, are you still not convinced that the holistic and generally non-linear way that you mind works is the key not only to YOUR success but also the salvation of all of us?

Then please allow Iain McGilchrist’s fascinating book, The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World arrive into your lexicon of thought.

McGilchrist is described by his Guardian reviewer Mary Midgley as a psychiatrist and philosopher who

“…points out that this “left-hemisphere chauvinism” cannot be correct because it is always Right’s business to envisage what is going on as a whole, while Left provides precision on particular issues.

“Moreover, it is Right that is responsible for surveying the whole scene and channelling incoming data, so it is more directly in touch with the world. This means that Right usually knows what Left is doing, but Left may know nothing about concerns outside its own enclave and may even refuse to admit their existence.”

The range of books on the science of the marriage of right and left hemispheres is too ample to ignore and too wonderful to not dive into.

Your To Do List and You

Since I have begun to process the meaning behind these brain studies, I can start to imagine a deeper meaning of “choice.” One that goes beyond mere “chocolate or vanilla?”

One that goes beyond “what will I wear today” or even beyond the more daily daunting “What will I achieve today?” that the left brain is so useful at assisting with (thanks!)

It goes to the core of identity — the fearful and wonderful possibility that I can CHOOSE the answer to: “Who will I be today?”

As a poet, mother, swimmer, recycler, and self-proclaimed world-shaper, it is wonderful news to know I have that choice.

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