When neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor had a stroke that put her logical, sequential left brain temporarily out of commission, she experienced a temporary state of peaceful, all-connected consciousness that changed her forever. She described this in her best-selling book My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey. At first she saw this intuitive and wholistic right brain state as crucial to human mental health but after a visit to Antarctica with Al Gore she began to see how it might also offer clues about how a desperately-needed new eco-consciousness might be as close as the right side of our brains. She describes this in a Jan. 4, 2013 Huffington Post story, "Does Our Planet Need a Stroke of Insight"?
But how to experience this right-brain eco-connection without having to go through a potentially deadly stroke?
The idea of using various methods for accessing the right brain isn't new, of course. Far from it. But the recent emphasis seems to have been on how to connect with this side of ourselves merely so we can succeed at some left brain activity like business or goal-oriented sports.
Taylor's critical insight is that by entering this altered, nonlinear state of consciousness we may reconnect with an important awareness that, when combined with the more practical, rational left-brain insights of science, might allow us to more effectively address our current environmental situation.
Once we understand the domains of the right and left brain hemispheres, many options appear. The left brain (which controls the right side of the body) is generally agreed to dominate functions like speech, logic, detail, science, math, planning, order, thinking, writing and a sense of the separate self. The right brain seems to focus more on a holistic sense of connection, images, stories, music, intuitive awareness of patterns, beauty and imagination.
Methods of connecting with the right brain (and thus balancing the brain hemispheres) are as old as humanity. Most indigenous cultures were well aware of them: story-telling, art, connecting with the beauty of nature, ingesting mind-altering plants under controlled conditions, making music, aromatherapy, body therapies, sex, humor, dreaming, stream of consciousness writing, meditation, religious ceremony and prayer are just a few.
For those of us interested in how right-brain connection could alter our species' presently destructive relationship with the rest of nature, it seems critical that many more people experience the holistic, blissful feeling of oneness with all there is in our amazing universe.
And perhaps the simplest way of doing that is finding ways for more of us -- especially children -- to connect with the rest of nature, however that is available to us. Here are a few possibilities: gardening; going outdoors and simply opening ourselves to the beauty of plants, trees, mountains, water; connecting with other animals (even domesticated animals); drawing and painting in nature; making music outdoors; watching our dreams for images of nature and what they might be telling us; connecting with the wild nature in our bodies through various body therapies; joining others for meditation and prayer outdoors.
I'd love to hear others' suggestions about how this might be possible.
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