There is no doubt that while relatively brief for all that is covered, this video is dense with cutting-edge scientific and psychological knowledge with great social and existential implications. Ian McGilchrist is the author of “The Master and his Emissary”, a brick of a book, dedicated in helping us better understand brain neuroscience. The book dives into the complexity of how both hemispheres complement each other, providing us with vastly different lenses through which we perceive the world. Both hemispheres of our brains have us view and experience ourselves, and the world around us in drastically opposite and complimentary ways.
Among many of the points covered above, McGilchrist emphasizes that we live in a culture which too often prioritizes the left hemisphere —The Master— with its narrow, sharply focused attention to details. The cost comes at cutting us off from our felt sense of self, our world and the people around us —The Emissary— from which the right hemisphere emerges.
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If we re-cap, our left hemisphere allows for precise language and abstraction of thought. It yields clarity and our ability to manipulate our world. It has us experience ourselves and the world in terms of what is known, fixed, static, isolated, decontextualized, explicit and general in nature.
On the other hand, our right hemisphere allows for a broad, sustained, opened, vigilant alertness, so that we can make direct connections with the universe we are a part of, the vibrant planet we live on and the people in our lives. The right hemisphere yields an experience of an ever-changing world filled with individuals who are interconnected, evolving in an implicit and incarnate world. A mysterious world, which is never perfectly and totally known, and is always in a perpetual state of now.
Very few of us can feel complete and thrive while being polarized in one hemisphere at the expense of the other. There is always a price to pay when we live in polarized extremes. McGilchrist invites us to contemplate the gifts and limitations of each hemisphere, and not be seduced by a culturally sanctioned, left hemisphere way of life. He invites us, individually and as a society, to re-integrate the gifts of the right brain so that we can enjoy more intimacy with ourselves, our creativity and the mystery of what it is to be alive, all-the-while sharing our humanity with those in our lives.
How this translates for each of us, is up to each of us to discover! It is part of our personal journey of becoming ourselves and learning, day in and day out, to re-discover our ever-changing present.
- What part of your life has been habituated and deserves to be rediscovered, anew?
- What emotional pattern or thought process is asking to be rediscovered, anew?
- Who in your life has your left hemisphere normalized and habituated and needs to be re-discovered, anew?
- What will you do to empower your right hemisphere so that your life is more holistic and balanced?
May we all learn to remain curious and open to the Mystery of what it is to be alive and totally present in our here and now!
Nathan Bergeron, LMFT, L.Ac. ©