I’ve been curious about what brain research and traditional spiritual practices have to teach us and this is an approach to mindfulness that I’ve been experimenting with lately…
If you feel a tension or an emotional imbalance, start looking for clues in the vast unknown universe of the brain. It is a frontier most of us are unfamiliar with and few know how to discover but within lies all kinds of fun stuff if you have the patience to learn its ways.
Each hemisphere is aware of different inputs – they literally absorb separate realities from the same set of circumstances. Then they process those inputs in ways entirely foreign to the other side and their outputs are equally specialised and unique.
Yet we get an apparenly coherent narrative out of all of that work going on up there. We can confidently describe ourselves, our lives and our histories. We are so sure that our reality is the one true version that we can end up in long, heated arguments with loved ones over who said X, which led to Y and resulted in Z, and was all started because the aforementioned loved one used that tone of voice!
That crystal clear narrative, the one we swear by, is unrepresentative of the whole picture and when we stop rehearsing it for a minute and start watching the contradictions roll in things can start to feel rather shaky. A short spell of sitting quietly is enough to tell us that our minds and bodies are delivering more messages than we can possibly hope to analyse, let alone form into a coherent story.
With a bit of practice we can sit mindfully with the conflicting messages bombarding all parts of the mind and body for a while, just quietly watching them come and go. Whether or not they make any sense doesn’t seem to matter – just letting them all have an unjudged moment in the spotlight can resolve some of the dissonance. It also gives those parts of the brain that are not best expressed with language, or understood through linear analysis, a chance to be heard or, more commonly, felt.
There is plenty written about how to do this quiet, non-judgemental contemplation – do a quick search on mindfulness meditation and you’ll turn up experts in the field who can give you excellent directions. My special interest lately has been discovering just how much more there is to my life, to my body and brain, than the narrow band of self-assured opinion I have, for so long, been calling my self.