Our brain, like our planet, is divided into two hemispheres. The earth is divided vertically between northern and southern hemispheres and the brain in turn is divided horizontally between right and left hemispheres. Just as the hemispheres on Earth are different from each other, so are those in our brains. Understanding the differences between these hemispheres in our bodies, how to identify their peculiar actions and learning to synchronize them lead us to a greater awareness of our thoughts, feelings and attitudes. But what is the responsibility of each one and how to achieve synchronization between them? And what are the benefits of doing so?
First, we must discuss the brain as a whole: At a basic level we have our systems of perception - sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell; while at another level we have the different forms of intelligence - linguistic, spatial, kinesthetic, musical, mathematical, intrapersonal, and interpersonal. Our brains are designed to capture information from the world, process it internally (cognition) and then, from that processing, create a specific and appropriate response. Thus, the way we perceive reality directly influences how we behave.
The right and left sides of the brain are quite distinct from each other: While the hemispheres of planet Earth do not always connect, the cerebral hemispheres are physically separated while connected through nerve fibers called “corpus callosum”. This separation allows each side of the brain to function somewhat independently and to perform quite different forms of processing. However, as there is a flow of neural information between the two hemispheres, an integrated form of processing is also possible that allows the brain to reach higher levels of functioning. When each differentiated side can contribute to an integrated whole, we are able to achieve more than when individual hemispheres remain in isolation.
Secondly, it is important that we understand the differences between these hemispheres. The right hemisphere, more precisely, works as a predominant form of processing called the "Right Side Processing Mode." This type of processing is nonlinear, holistic, contextual, intuitive, creative, musical, imaginative and adventurous. It sees possibilities and works with symbols and images. It specializes in autobiographical information, the sending and perception of nonverbal cues, spontaneous and raw emotions, awareness, regulation, an integrated sense of the body, social cognition and the ability to understand others, capturing and processing contextual information, and space and mental modes of self.
Left Side Processing Mode is linear, logical, linguistic, good at math, detail-oriented, fact-driven, reality-based, objective, analytical, practical, safe, and careful. It has scientific skills, loves order, meets standards, and works with both written and spoken language. It specializes in syllogistic reasoning (the search for patterns of cause and effect), linguistic analysis (use of words to describe the world), "right versus wrong" thinking. This type of processing is language based.
Because we use both types of processing and the two hemispheres of the brain are in constant communication, the data processed by both are joined together and their result is a story we tell ourselves in our minds. These stories or narratives can be both coherent and incoherent, depending on how integrated both sides are, and which side prevails at any given time. The coherence (or inconsistency) of the stories we tell ourselves directly influences the way we behave, since the way we perceive reality affects the way we relate to it.
Thirdly, we seek to answer the following question: “What are the benefits of achieving hemispheric brain synchronization?” The answer is based on: stories. When we hear someone tell a story, we can doubt it or totally believe it, right? When our brains tell us stories our biggest and foremost impulse is to truly believe everything that is being said. When we work with a disharmonized brain, the chance of telling ourselves something that is not consistent with reality is immense, thus affecting (and greatly) how we relate to ourselves, others, and life in general.
Therefore, we need to tell ourselves new stories, stories based on the full facts, for life-making narratives emerge from a synthesis of the left-hand drive to explain and the autobiographical, social, and emotional information stored on the right-hand side. A coherent narrative is the result of a flexible fusion of right and left processing modes. When this fusion is effective, we have a coherent sense of our own life story, which allows us to fully understand our lives, considering both reason and emotion, without dismissing, ignoring, or exaggerating any fact or event.
In addition to bringing more coherence to our lives, this synthesis on both sides, which is achieved through synchronization or harmonization between the cerebral hemispheres, also has other benefits. One is the fact that as we tell coherent stories to ourselves, we are better able to understand others and help them tell more coherent stories to themselves. Another benefit is that with the balance and fusion of processing modes, we feel more in control of our thoughts and emotions, and as we are no longer slaves to our own minds, we no longer react to obstacles and challenges but act consciously on the basis of the analysis coming from this whole working brain.
The point then is to identify the processing modes in everyday life. For this identification to be possible, we must first learn to feel them in our bodies and to identify their most subtle presentations and contributions.
When we talk about the left-hand processing mode, we are talking about a more logical and rational approach. We all have the ability to distance ourselves from uncontrollable and less predictable feelings from raw emotional experiences. When we do this, we are working predominantly with the left mode of processing, where information from the left hemisphere overrides that from the right.
The right side is more creative and intuitive. There may be times when we are conscious of being filled with sensations that we cannot logically name or understand: images in the mind, body sensations, or notions that seem to float in and out of our consciousness. We may lose track of time and feel deeply connected to what we are perceiving with little or no concern for the cause and effect relationship of the world. We can be immersed in the bodily, emotional and perceptual aspects of an experience. When this happens, the predominant mode is the right side mode.
Another example is the way we deal with stress and conflict situations. How do you feel about dealing with an extremely emotional person or situation? Are you nervous, reactive, anxious? Do you feel unable to rationalize the situation and find a solution? If so, then your dominant hemisphere is the Right Hemisphere. However, if you feel rigid in these situations in your thoughts and actions, find it difficult to connect and sympathize with that person and talk normally and/or respond to situations, your dominant mode of processing is that of the Left Hemisphere.
In addition to paying attention to our most instinctive and spontaneous responses, we can also observe something very peculiar about our body: our breathing. And when we talk about breathing we are not talking, for example, about how fast your breathing is or how aware you are of your breathing pattern. What we are talking about is something explained in an oriental technique called "Nadi Shodhana". This alternate nostril breathing technique results in the balance of the nervous system, since it is understood that the left nostril is connected to the right hemisphere of the brain and the right nostril, in turn, to the left hemisphere. We'll see more about the technique in the following exercises, but what's important at the moment is to understand that each nostril is connected to a distinct hemisphere. That way, whenever we need it, we can become aware of which hemisphere is operating at its greatest capacity by paying attention to which nostril is operating at its greatest intensity. If you are breathing more through the left nostril, your predominant mode of operation is the right one, and if it is right, the predominant side is the left.
However, besides being able to identify the predominant mode of brain action at a given moment, which is already incredibly valid, our focus in this text is to talk about the synchronization between the two hemispheres, so that they work in a connected and balanced way. Let's look at some exercises that can be done for this purpose:
Hemispheric Brain Synchronization and Harmonization Exercises
2. Circular movement with the eyes
Slowly rotate your eyes from left side to right side in a circular motion without straining them.
3. Knee Movement
As you walk, raise your knees to 90 degrees and use your right palm to touch your left knee and vice versa.
4. Ear training
Focus on listening one ear at a time for a few breaths, alternating them, and after doing this a few times, focus on the center of the brain with awareness.
5. Breathing - Nadi Shodhana
Alternate breathing technique for the purpose of regulating the air flow between your nasal passages. Right nostril connected to the left side and left nostril connected to the right side.
How to do it:
Sit down and place your left hand palm up on your left thigh. The right hand goes to the face - your index and middle fingers are between the eyebrows, while the thumb is over the right nostril and the ring finger over the left. The little finger can stay as you feel most comfortable. What you want to do from there is close one nostril and breathe through the other. At the peak of inhalation, you will close both nostrils and then exhale using the opposite nostril of inhalation. For example, close your right nostril with your thumb and breathe from the left. At peak inhalation, close both nostrils and hold. Then, release your right nostril, exhaling air through it. On the next breath you will do the opposite, then inhale through the right nostril and vice versa. Do this for 9 breaths.
6. Keeping a Diary
Writing helps us a lot to recognize our mode of processing. Some questions for you to answer, mentally (if you're not very adept to writing) or keeping a record:
a. Which side do you feel is predominant: right or left?
b. Does it change with the environment?
c. Have you noticed changes in your processing mode as you grow older?
d. What situations lead you to work harder with the right mode of processing?
e. What situations lead you to work more with left mode of processing?
f. How do you feel this difference in your body and mind?
g. What are your goals with hemispheric synchronization?
As we can see the brain synchronization and harmonization exercises are simple and can be done anytime and anywhere. As you make a habit of making them, they become natural and you begin to feel the comfort that a brain working in harmony and wholeness brings us. This mental well-being increases as we integrate our modes of processing and deepen our sense of connection with ourselves and others. This integration allows us to achieve self-awareness and our interpersonal relationships to flourish and enrich our lives.
Every seed we sow, even in ourselves, bears fruit. And surely the fruits of hemispheric brain synchronization are valuable. Have fun and enjoy!! I wish you success in planting and harvesting!