Left and Right Hemispheres of the Brain

Yesterday, while listening to an online class by Bonnie Badenoch, PhD, LMFT, where she is talking about how we need other people to regulate our emotions (our whole lives, not just as infants and small children), I gleaned a very concise description of the functions of the right and left hemispheres of the brain.  Being an EMDR therapist, my ears perked up.  But she took it further than that.  In her description, the emphasis she placed was on the relationship between the two hemispheres (EMDR is a therapy that successfully integrates left and right hemispheres in order to resolve trauma that has remained frozen, often for decades).  Early in her talk (which is free and available online, she points out that effective therapy follows the client, allowing the healing to happen on its own (which is what both EMDR and CranioSacral therapy do.  Here is a simplified version of what she said.

Right Hemisphere

Left Hemisphere

Sensitivity to suffering

Attending to what is going on

in the relational realm

In the present moment

(what’s happening between us?)

Staying with the unfolding process

EMERGENCE

DEEP CONNECTION

(with nature and/or with another)

DEEP WARMTH

BOTH – AND

Can handle PARADOX

Values Individuality, Uniqueness, Connection

WE

Meaning > Happiness

Offers distance from emotions

Provides Stability/Steadiness

Takes what we receive from the other hemisphere and disassembles it so that it can be used to create systems that we can rely on.

It has to freeze things in order to take them apart and use them.

TASK > RELATIONSHIPS

Can provide WISDOM

(Why does this make complete sense?)

EITHER – OR

Values JUDGMENT

Creates Protocols and Frameworks

I

Thinks everything will turn out okay

(but there is an underlying paranoia)

There is no meaning

(except for what I WANT)

I want to take this a step further and suggest that adequate self parenting, which is necessary to overcome early relational trauma, could be thought of in terms of the relationship between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.  And if you wanted to get really crazy, between the Inner Feminine and the Inner Masculine (which has been referred to – I suspect – as the Divine Marriage).

Which brings me to this point at which I want to share a recent experience with you.  In a moment of inspiration several months ago, I drew (with the help of a collection of slumped postures online) a profile of myself that I had projected onto another person, who I then felt slightly judgmental toward.  It occurred to me that I might put the image out on Facebook, tagging a few friends who I thought might have knowledge or resources to “read” that posture to see what it had to say (I said it was a client I needed help with).  I had been doing tai chi and listening to Trina’s song, This Simplicity, when I heard the lyrics, “What the soul is longing for, and what this body needs.”  Everything stopped while I wrote down these words, which I used, along with a very practical, physical question, What happened to this body from a physiological perspective, and why does she hold herself this way?  The questions I asked came from two different places, and from the responses I got on Facebook, two different answers emerged.  To what can we attribute these two different approaches?  Before Bonnie Badenoch, I would have, hands down, said Inner Masculine and Inner Feminine.  Now, if I need to, I can say Left Hemisphere and Right Hemisphere.  If you’d like to see what emerged, use the links to read more (you can enter through the portal that feels most comfortable to you)!

I’d love to hear which portal you used, and what you think of the material you find there!  If you are curious about what your soul is longing for and what your body needs, we could try continuing the Facebook conversation.  As always, I’d love to hear from you!

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