When you look at the title of this post, you could be thinking that i am talking about socialism vs. capitalism. If you look at the image on this post, you are right in thinking about how Perseus took Medusa’s life without looking her in the eye. However, both the title and the image are purely symbolic. How you perceive this is upto you and that depends on whether you use your right or what’s left.
When i was in school, i attended a workshop on excellence, and how excellence can be learnt and therefore achieved – using the brain in a way that we could possibly control it. Biology classes had taught us the anatomy of brain mapping which were basically layers of the cerebrum, cerebellum and medulla. The front of our brain (Cerebrum) is responsible for certain functions like movement, temperature,reasoning, emotion, hearing etc. among others and likewise the other parts of the brain too, are in charge of other things.
Apart from the biological classification, i was soon learning about a more qualitative division of the brain, namely the right and the left. The right brain is our creative craving while the left brain is our logical reasoning. At these ‘excellence’ classes, i was now being taught how i must control my brain. The tutor told me to place my fingers beneath my nose and examine my breath and breathing patterns. After about 30 seconds, i jumped up and almost yelled ” Something is wrong with me ! Air is coming out of only one nostril “. There were giggles in the room. I knew there was something wrong. I was waiting for class to get done, run up to mom and tell her that i should be admitted immediately. The person next to me suddenly nudged me and said ” Me too – one nose”
Soon, there was a lot of excitement in the room, since most of the students had discovered that air gets out only through one nostril while breathing out. The tutor then tells us that the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain, the left of the body. This means that if i can feel air coming out through my left nostril, means my right brain is alive and in control. Therefore i am going to be at my creative best, coming up with great poetry, winning prizes for creative writing, so on and so forth. When i am breathing through my right nostril, i could be a math genius, or a scientist making the best discoveries.
The tutor then told us that he would teach us to control our brain and therefore the way we function and operate. So immediately, a question came to my mind. It was like i had to decide then about which side of my brain i wanted to make permanent. Did i want to lead a life inside a lab, smelling chemicals, solving puzzles and experimenting with gadgets or did i want to rest under a tree with a nice book in my hand, writing some stories, making some movies, cracking jokes and having fun? Just as i was thinking about all this, another thought occurred to me. Which side of my brain was i exactly using at that point ? Wouldn’t that influence my decisions about which side i wanted to make permanent ? I just froze.
The tutor then explained to us that the body goes through a natural cycle of shifting from right to left brain, which means, automatically my breathing shifts from my right to the left nostril periodically. He said, we could control this through a technique called Body Yawning. It was a technique where you closed your eyes, held your breath, lifted your arms above your head and stretched out with your palms interlocked into one another and then thought within your head that you want to move from left to right or right to left. Then you breathe out in a slightly forceful fashion and that’s it ! you’ve changed your brain side. And trust me ! It worked. I just shifted it from one side to another.
The rest of the day, i spent shifting between my right and left, between my creative and practical, between my artistic and logical and i thought i could now be an Einstein as well as Shakespeare, both at the same time. I started doing better, both academically and creatively. I remember how i used to stretch out before a math exam and made sure i was breathing through my right nostril and when it was an english exam, i would do it the other way.
Eventually, life moved on and there were no more excellence classes to go to. That does not mean that i achieved it already. Soon i really forgot about body yawning and about controlling my brain. At office, in Daimler, filled with engineers, i would be called creative and when i came for drama rehearsals, people told me i was good at marketing and managing accounts. Hah ! So much for growing up learning to control your brain. These days i really dont care about being left or right brained. I just go about doing my stuff, but what i do consciously is space things out, over time, may be a couple of hours, or sometimes many days. This means that i am definitely allowing both parts of my brain to look at the what i am doing at different points in time. I know this has worked for sure, because people have told me that consistency seems to be missing in the eventual outcome. That explains it doesn’t it ?
However, i tell my self that the guy who exclaimed about the consistency issues was just using his left brain at that point in time. If not he would have said, i like the way this thing is broken up and the fact that it’s not monotonous. These surprises are healthy Of course, what you think of what someone does or delivers also has to do with situation cues, what you had for breakfast, your state of being and what you think you need to achieve in the next 24 hours among many other factors, including the weather.
This is precisely why there are two sides to most things. There is a third dimension as well, which is of course a combination of the left and right. However, this is not what i call centre. This is because i am not sure if one knows what is the mix of both brains being used and therefore if something is more logical than it is artistic or vice-versa. So i think the term “Using your head” would apply quite aptly. It would apply to most things though and we would be closer to excellence if we did that consistently and yet randomly !
I had a boss who used to always say “Life is about Common sense. Everything, including Branding, Accounting, Media, strategy, R & D was all common sense”. I used to wonder if common sense was creative or if it was logical. Somehow common sense seemed like what was totally obvious. If you dint know it, you would either be dumb or stupid. So whichever side of the brain enables you, you had to have this. Let’s say a fire needs to be put out. You have a right brainer and a left brainer. Hand them each a bucket of water and what would they do ? I can quite confidently say that both these people would use it to put out the fire. I am sure neither of them would use that to quench their thirst at that point in time.
This goes to say that there are certain things that are sort of universal to the brain like reaction, reflex etc, which are more biological in nature. Again this can vary between individuals in terms of the extent and depth of the actions. Using the left or right side of the brain is a process element of how the outcome is delivered as opposed to the outcome itself being delivered. Each of us can be as right as we can be left and this depends on our choices and of course our actions.
I wont believe the one who tells me that he’s not creative and at the same time, i wont believe the one who tells me he’s intelligent. Left or right, believe that both are right for you, at the right time and at the right place. This feels like a no brainer now !