Saturday, February 9, 2019

United We Stand - The Importance of Being Present

The left hemisphere of the brain looks at details, mines for similarities and explains the world based on differences and similarities, and can take over much of our brains activity when we are not guiding ourselves to be present and listen.  Being present is a key ingredient for having the full benefit of both right and left hemispheres.  The right hemisphere looks at the big picture and the left is the detective looking for details, steps to follow and past experience for predicting future outcomes.  The right knows the big picture. It already knows that I/it/the universe has many components which are all connected, and the more we can back up enough to get the big picture, the more successful we can be. Often, before we become more experienced at being present, our fearful egos, which live in the left hemisphere and simply want to be in control and not be hurt/made a fool of will over ride the more sensitive insights which can be provided by cooperation between the hemispheres.  We want the left and right sides of our  brain to be in constant communication and work cooperatively.  The now (present) is the place where this can occur.

Within the individual, the pain of past events waits to spring out when the current situation mirrors past emotions/thoughts/events.  That pain causes a flood of self-protection/self-recrimination/guilt/resentments that completely obscures the big picture.    The details in the left overwhelms/or high jacks our mental processing.  The wise overseer (silent watcher) or right hemisphere seer of the big picture cannot be heard due to the left hemisphere taking up so much of the bandwidth.  When you have a moment of being impressed with something you think or feel and think, "Where did that come from", it is from your right hemisphere, silent observer, enlightened self, getting a word in edgewise.  The goal of being present is to have the full capacity of both sides of the brain.  The two sides should be working in constant cooperation.  Unfortunately we get hung up on the minutiae of who is right and who is wrong, and us against them thinking which is predominant in our left brains.

These thoughts were tumbling around last night while I watched an episode of "A Million Little Things".  Suddenly, my pain body (long buried grief, resentment, sense of rejection) which hangs out with the ego part of my left brain was triggered by the depiction on the show of something that happened long ago to me.  I found myself sobbing, but the whole time my calming right hemisphere reassured me and pointed out what was going on.  I did not feel as I had in the past when something brought those feelings up, like I was underwater and drowning.  I told no one about the trauma for many years.  When I finally did tell others, the emotions of it remained buried. I have "known" from the right hemisphere that we must Face, Feel, and Forgive for a long time and had done as best I could (Ruiz's "Four Agreements").  We  cannot skip over the feeling it, but sometimes we need the proper tools.  I had Faced (seen it, labelled it) it but had not felt it.  As a result, I had been unsuccessful in Forgiving it.  Until you feel it, you are prone to subject it to the categorizing, comparing, us against them left brain processing without embracing the big picture.  When I apply feeling and get the big picture of we are all connected,  many of those false beliefs can fall away and truth can emerge within me.

The answer may be to help  people learn to experience being present by noticing thoughts and feelings and applying that to everyday life.  They must have skills to not flee from the oldest, biggest, most overwhelming pain when it emerges, and then, can simply notice it, label it and release it no matter how big it feels.  Not being able to forgive it caused me to continue too suffer and to be tripped when the pain was triggered by someone doing something that felt like that long ago betrayal.   My left hemisphere gathered the facts and a label for it but did not apply it at the deepest level of hurt.  The emotions were not processed, so they came up every time there was a felt betrayal by someone I trusted. Deep, gut wrenching sadness, fear and resentment lay beneath ongoing reactions.   The closer the relationship with the one by whom I felt betrayed, the more it hurt.  I realized that I had been utilizing the insights from my right hemisphere in a really good way for decades as a therapist.  I "instinctively" (right brain) knew what my clients who had been traumatized needed to hear and learn, and made sure they received that from me. Being present allows us to regain our full mental and emotional capacities. When I was ready (last night), that long buried initial pain trauma surfaced and could be quickly released by applying the ability to be present.  Being present had already increased my capacity to love and care for myself.  It had also already impacted my ability to love others.  This foundation is a key to progress in being present and learning to use both hemispheres.  United I stand.  I am connected.  I am one.  United we stand.  We are all connected.  We are all one in this amazing universe.

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