Meet in the Middle!

DID YOU KNOW? The brain has two hemispheres. The left-brain controls the right hand and the right-brain controls the left hand. They work together for optimal efficiency to make sense and give meaning to experiences and relationships.

The brain is a paradox. A paradox is a tension of opposites. On the left-side is logic, language and lists. On the right-side is imagination, creativity and intuition. The left-side uses linear thinking to make a decision. The right-side uses holistic thinking. One sees the parts. The other sees the whole. Both are necessary for a balanced perspective. When one side dominates the other, the brain is out-of-balance. It is in the power of paradox where the brain finds harmony. In this harmony, it is no longer caught in the conflict between either/or. It is now free to deal in the reality of both/and, working together to live life to the fullest.

Just like the brain, change is a paradox. Change brings into contrast polar opposites: the old and the new … the past and the future. The mind’s capacity to access memories from the past and plan for the future is necessary for a person to function. This is great when you are brainstorming or generating options, but not so great when decisions need to be made and you are caught in an internal conflict or a dilemma between what you should do and what you could do. Sometimes the mind gets stuck in the past or anticipates worse-case scenarios in the future. When this happens, the Locator Brain follows suit and reacts as if the past or future is happening now. Associated physical sensations and emotions flood the body. Stress reactions go into hyper-drive. Heartbeat increases and breathing becomes short and shallow. The digestive and immune systems turn off. Emotions can flip from depression (past) to anxiety (future) in a nano-second. A sense of being overwhelmed or being stuck prevails. Confusion, indecisiveness and foggy thinking occur. In other words, the right-brain and left-brain stop working together.

The Locator Brain needs the mind’s capacity to think paradoxically. When this happens, the brain and the mind find harmony so as not to relive the past or be anxious about the future. The brain is constantly adapting to change. Change is a fact of life. On the one hand, the brain’s instinct to survive is fed by the mind’s ability to think in polar opposites. Listing the pros and cons compares and contrasts two opposites. Survival instincts rely on black and white thinking. On the other hand, the brain’s impulse to thrive is fostered by the mind’s ability to think paradoxically. Seeing both sides values each one equally. Thriving impulses rely on connecting both sides and meeting in the middle. So, the question at hand is “How can neuro-pathways be formed to think paradoxically.” One answer to the question lies in ABC Tool #8: Paradox.

The Locator Brain acts to orient you in space and time.

ABC Tool #8: Paradox

A – Awaken – Be Aware

  1. Ask yourself, “Where am I located? Am I in the past, present or future?”

  2. Ask yourself, “Is this image, internal dialogue or physical sensation generated from the past, present or future?”

B – Blink – Be Present

  1. Begin to breathe. Let your inhale and exhale be equal. You may want to imagine the ocean tide flowing in and flowing out as you practice equal breaths. Go to my blog entitled Blink for further instructions. Or, Max Strom refers to this as ocean breathing. Go to the app store; search for Strategic Breathing; open the app and download for an ocean breathing technique tutorial.

  2. Locate yourself now. Move your eyes back and forth between polar opposites. Image a clock in front of you face. Look from the 9 o’clock position to the 3 o’clock position for 1 minute. Go to my blog entitled Blink for detailed instructions. Allow your eyes to settle in the middle between 9 and 3, describe what you see, what you hear and what you feel. For example, I see the books on the bookshelf in front of me. I hear the birds chirping outside my window. I feel the soft texture of the blanket on my lap. This will bring you into present reality and prime the pump for paradoxical thinking.

C – Change – Be here now

  1. Meet in the middle. Get the right-side and left-side of the brain connected. Create a harmonious environment for the brain. Recognize you are thinking in polar opposites. For example,

  • Relationships: I should call my mom who drive me crazy, but I don’t want to hear her complain.

  • Food: I should eat fruit, but I would rather have chocolate.

  • Exercise: On the one hand I should go out for a 20-minute walk … on the other hand I want to take a nap.

  • Job: On the one hand, I should take this job … on the other hand I could wait for a better opportunity with better pay

2. Embrace the power of paradox.

  • Identify the polar opposites when you use ‘but’ or ‘on the one hand and on the other hand.’ For example, on the one hand I should go out for a 20-minute walk … on the other hand I want to take a nap. The polar opposites are walk and nap.

  • Select an object or symbol that represents each of the identified opposites. As strange as it may seem, pick the first one that comes up. Be sure it is small enough to fit in the palm of your hands. Of course, you can always shrink it to size. For example, the symbol for the walk is a tennis shoe. The symbol for the nap is a pillow.

  • Imagine placing one object in your left hand (shoe) and place the other object in your right hand (pillow.) Hold your hands in front of you: one on the left side of your body and the other on the right side of your body.

  • Allow your hands to come together. It may be immediate or it may take some time. Once your hands are together, place them on your body. Let them rest on your chest or stomach.

  • Sit quietly. Allow the objects/symbols to find a way to be together in your imagination. Let them talk to one another. Discover how they interact with one another. For example, the pillow might cover the shoe or the shoe might sit on the pillow.

  • Reflect on your discoveries. What difference does the power of paradox make? What happens to the brain when the mind creates a paradoxical environment? What happens to you when you move from polar-opposite thinking to paradoxical thinking? What surprised you the most? What captured your imagination?

Embrace the Vitality of Your Brain!

May the Fullness of Paradox Flow through You!