Therapist Anastasia Pollock tells us why it is important to have a balanced brain. You can get more information about her here.
Our brains are made up of two hemispheres that work together to help us to function at our best. In his book 'The Master and His Emissary', Iain McGilchrist discusses the differences between the two hemispheres. Contrary to popular belief, both hemispheres of the brain play their own roles in reason, vision, emotion, creativity and language. Although they both contribute in all these areas, the ways in which each hemisphere helps us differs. Each hemisphere has its strengths and when they work together in a balanced way, life tends to be easier and more pleasurable. When one side is more dominant than the other, the strengths of the less dominant hemisphere are not utilized and this causes life to be more challenging than necessary.
Strengths of the Left Hemisphere
In the dominant culture in the U.S. we tend to have more dominant left hemispheres. Some of the strengths of the left hemisphere are:
Seeing the details and narrowing focus of attention
Knowledge specific information
Use of tools and machines
Construction of arguments based on the knowledge it holds
Being the 'know it all' part of the brain
Simplifying complex issues
Strengths of the Right Hemisphere
The Right Hemisphere can be underutilized in the dominate culture of the U.S. Below are some of the things we may be missing out on:
Keeping attention broad
Alertness to surroundings
Making connections with the world
Seeing the bigger picture instead of being overly focused
Understanding metaphors, broad meaning, and underlying meanings
Seeing and interprets body language and emotional expression in the face of others
Playing Devil`s Advocate and helping us to see other parts of an argument
Things you can do for a Balanced Brain
Exercise both hemispheres. Because we get plenty of practice exercising the left hemisphere in our busy, task oriented lives, make sure you are also giving attention to the right hemisphere by practicing the following:
- Stop doing so much and slow down. We fill our schedules and our minds and don`t have a lot of room for growth or attention to our own inner experience of the world. Start to set aside time to breathe and just be. Yes, this is easier said than done, but well worth it in the long-run as you will be much more effective if you can make room for your whole brain to function as it was meant to.
- Start paying attention to your body and get in touch with your inner experience. The right side of the brain and the body are closely linked. When you need to make a decision, start to notice your body in addition to seeing the facts. By doing this you will not only be honoring the left hemisphere`s strength in seeing facts and focusing, but also tapping into your intuition and pieces of information you may not have noticed otherwise.
- Get in touch with your loved ones. The right side of the brain is helpful in helping us to perceive others and to form and keep relationships. You can test out how well your right hemisphere is working by asking others how connected they feel to you and assessing how connected you feel to them. When you nurture relationships by spending quality time with loved ones and connecting emotionally, you are giving your right hemisphere the chance to strengthen and helping the whole brain to become more balanced.