Right-Brain/Left-Brain – Part 4*
* This is a summarized version. If you need more details about this topic, please download the MP3 file, from the store section.
A-How to Develop Your Right Brain
There are many new books and strategies that promise to develop the mental abilities of the brain. Research shows that if you exercise your less dominant part of the brain, the other part will also improve. However, unless you exercise your weak mental side adequately, you are unlikely to be a whole brainer. There may be times when you think you used the right side of the brain, and you maybe right. However, it is important to use it frequently, not occasionally. Research shows that by adulthood, 98% of the population become left brainer. It is therefore, important that we find ways to activate the right brain, in order to balance our mental abilities. There are many tools, techniques and exercises to keep your right brain active.
Your creativity and productivity can be maximized through specific right- brain focused exercises. Although some persons have high IQ levels and are considered very intelligent, they may lack creativity due to stressful pressures on their mental or emotional energies. Left brain dominance can be an obstacle to your ability to let go and relax more which is a right brain activity.
B-Techniques & Tools to Stimulate Your Right Brain:
Right brain activation tools are numerous and include various exercises including: creative writing, brain games, quizzes, crossword puzzles, word games, and word association. However, the main effective tools are: sports, nature, mind mapping, meditation, visualization, massage, brainstorming, color therapy, aroma therapy, acupressure, peripheral vision (hakalau), breathing techniques and hypnosis.
1- Jigsaw Puzzles:
You can activate the right brain once you begin to use spatial, visual and perceptual sensing. Whenever you assemble a jigsaw puzzle and try to figure out how to relate the pieces to each other, you are in effect using spatial perception. Using the pieces for the final picture is accessing the visual perception. According to Michael Pitek of The Performance Group, these mental exercises are stimulant to the right brain.
This can be group or individual brainstorming. It was originally developed in the 1950’s by Alex Osborn as an effective tool to get solutions to problems. It is like an informal way to solve problems in a relaxed setting, using your lateral thinking. Research shows that individual brainstorming is more effective than the group. It is about focusing on a problem and trying to generate as many solutions as possible. It encourages the free flow of ideas without criticism or evaluation or judgment, with a usual time limit of 30 minutes. By avoiding the evaluation process you in effect “shut off” your left brain and allow the right side to start thinking and working creatively.
Sports are great exercise for the body, as well as great right brain exercises. Physical exercises develop spontaneity and visual imaging ability. Sports are exercises for the body and equally important for the mind, especially the right brain. Research shows that between 20-30 minutes of continuous exercise, the brain starts releasing endorphins that help boost good mood and feeling good. Endorphins are released from the right brain. Therefore, the more you exercise, the more activity occurs in your right brain. Also, during any game, athletes need to make quick decisions about the development of the score of the game, and they need to access spatial and/or visual aspects of the right brain to reach those decisions.
4-Peripheral Vision (Hakalau):
The technique is called peripheral vision and basically means expanding your vision to see into the periphery. This is the opposite of foveal vision, the acute concentrated vision that you would have if you were for example, threading a needle. You will become more aware of the movement of objects rather than on color or the objects themselves. This technique is also called Hakalau in the Hawaiian tradition of Huna, but has also been called the Zen gaze, the Silent Witness, and a variety of other terms. It is a technique of changing your sight, and ultimately transforming your vision. The best way to practice Hakalau is to find a place with no distractions, relax, and take a few deep breaths. As you focus on the edges, just relax and keep your eyes open. You may feel little sleepy which is quite normal.
Studies show that the use of peripheral vision will trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, an activity that occurs at the right side of the brain. It is important to note that Hakalau is also effective in inducing change, similar to hypnosis.
Meditation is one of the most powerful mind tools ever developed. Studies prove that meditation improves memory, creativity, intelligence, alertness, and it synchronizes both parts of the brain. It is known that it will improve physical, mental, and emotional health. Many mystics have their students develop more inner and psychic awareness through meditation. It works because it neutralizes the constant stream of thoughts that control most of our heads. To get best effects of meditation, it is best to sit quiet and breathe slowly and pay attention to body sensations.
For more than 2,500 years, Buddhist monks have practiced meditation for spiritual growth. They also used meditation for other benefits such as: calmness, inner strength and to access unconscious thoughts and feelings.
According to Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Letter, fall 2006, vol 12. no.3.: Harvard Medical School scientists have found that regular meditation can also alter the structure of our brains. A team led by Sara Lazar, Ph.D., a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and an instructor in psychology at HMS, found that meditation increased thickness in the regions of the brain associated with attention and processing sensory input.
I have talked in more detail about Meditation in other sections and articles.
Visualization is about imagining or seeing things in your mind Creative visualization is to consciously select an image and see it in your mind. If you want to lose weight, you imagine an image of you being skinny. Visualization is a technique used by everyone whether they are conscious of it or not. The right brain and the unconscious mind UM use the language of images. To communicate directly with your UM, use images or visualization techniques. You have to see yourself doing it in the mind, and then you can execute it. This is why in sports, athletes who use visualization techniques get better scores and achieve higher performance level.
7- Creative Writing:
There are methods that are effective in "shutting off" the left brain, allowing the right side to be more active. Creative writing courses often use this method to combat "writer's block." The logical left side can be idle during such activities as meditation (repeating a mantra or word over and over) or in sensory environments. The right brain is then able to "access" our consciousness, filling our thoughts with images. One way to use creative writing is to keep a journal and write how experiences and events make you feel. You will write about your emotions and feelings of the situation rather than describing the situation. Instead of "I got turned down for the promotion," write how you felt about it. This exercise is counter-intuitive for many left-brainers but helpful in activating your right brain.
It is no secret that people who are connected with nature are right brainers. Living in nature is one of the best tools for activating your right brain. Nature will keep you in a constant state of Theta, a right brain state. Not only your stress level will be minimum, but also your mental alertness and your memory will be at optimum level. Being connected with nature enables you to neutralize the analytical side of you and instead “feel” the surrounding environment, which is a typical right brain activity.
9- Breathing Techniques:
There are many types of breathing. Some breathing techniques are excellent for boosting white blood cells and therefore, very effective for the immune system. Martial arts breathing is very good for increasing body energy. Other breathing tools are for releasing stress like Reichan therapy. Slow breathing is also effective for accessing Theta state, and therefore, can activate the right side of the brain. Mixing breathing with hypnosis is very effective for many benefits, and almost all are right brain based.
Self hypnosis or hypnosis downloads are both very effective in stimulating your right brain, in addition to many other benefits. In hypnosis, under light trance, you are in Theta state, a positive state for your brain. Under Theta, you are able to activate your memory functions and release positive hormones like Serotonin & Endorphins. Under deep trance, you are in Delta state, the most healthy state for your body and brain. In Delta, your brain speed slows down to a range between 0.1- 4 cycle/second. This is the state where all health recuperation occurs. Under Delta, your body recreates new cells. Your Unconscious Mind UM responds very well to all suggestions. Change will happen more profoundly and quickly under these 2 states.
Theta & Delta are both right-brain activities. I talked more about Theta & Delta in my series: Brain Waves and Their Effects on You.