Living Right in a Left-Brain World Part 2
Peak experiences are relatively brief, usually intense, often unbidden, and frequently life-changing. They are actually “peak experiences” into the transpersonal, supra-mental levels of one’s own higher potentials.
— Ken Wilber
Chasing the peak experience
Peak experiences provide especially joyous and exciting moments in life, involving sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, wonder and awe. They may include deep insight or perception, deep connection to beauty.
Sometimes people perceive the world from an altered, and often vastly profound and awe-inspiring perspective. Peak experiences usually come on suddenly and are often inspired by meditation, intense feelings of love, exposure to great art or music, or the overwhelming beauty of nature.
When peak experiences are especially powerful, the sense of self dissolves into an awareness of a greater unity. Perhaps the peak experience could be called an extreme right-brain burst of illumination!
Dr. Herbert Benson, writer of The Breakout Principle, says, “We can sever prior mental patterns and – even in times of great stress or emotional trauma – open an inner door to a host of personal benefits, including greater mental acuity, enhanced creativity, increased job productivity, maximal athletic performance, and spiritual development.”
Benson describes four distinct stages to create what he calls a breakout and the peak experience that goes with it.
- Stage one begins with hard mental or physical effort. (left-brain)
- Stage two involves a choice (left-brain) to let go of this hard work stage. He calls this “pulling the breakout trigger.”
- Stage three is moving into a state of relaxed awareness by engaging in a right brain activity like needlepoint or sitting in nature or doing some other sort of right brain activity. This usually creates an intuitive vision that involves a way to solve a problem or create a new project.
- Stage four involves returning to a new-normal state that includes improved left-brain performance and mind-body patterns.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, a book about accessing creativity, suggests going on artist dates that will put you into the right-brain. She says these should be planned outings just for yourself. The intent is to nourish your inner, creative side. You could visit an art gallery, pottery shop or garden to free your creativity.
Some right-brain activities to consider: gardening, reading, writing, making art, watching TV, making love, driving a familiar route or a deserted stretch of highway, playing or listening to music, watching a movie (especially in 3D), meditation and hypnosis(link). The list is endless.
Our capacity for improvement
We are born with 100 billion brain cells and we never have any more throughout our lifetime. We start off with a basic set of neuro-connections needed for survival. As we grow and learn and acquire new experiences, the brain makes more and more interconnections.
It is a myth that as we grow older our brains have to work less well. If we continue to use our brains to learn, to think, to create, to enjoy, and to love as we age, our brain capacity will continue to improve by creating more intricate neuro-connections.
Instead of our brain capacity diminishing as we age, instead of becoming stagnant we can be vital and vibrant and wise as we grow older. By finding that unique balance between our left and right brain and using it consciously we can live and grow older wisely.
Living right in a left-brain world is really about living wisely and fully realizing ourselves. We can access the wisdom that allows us to see the bigger picture without losing sight of the current one and vice versa.
It allows us the wisdom to move beyond logic and reason without abandoning or losing touch with it.
With wisdom we can look at what we can learn from a given experience, rather than just stay with what we can affirm or reaffirm. We can look at where something will lead us rather that what it can get us. We can focus first upon where we are going (future), then where we are coming from (present) and last where we have been (past.)
And with wisdom we can give our lives meaning. We can find meaning and value within the symbols and metaphors therein.
Living right in a left-brain world is about entering the balance between left and right, masculine and feminine, passive and active, doing and feeling, logic and intuition, will and imagination, action and feelings, understanding and perception, meaning and conception, body and mind, physical and spiritual.
And here lies the dance of a living life wisely and deeply.