Monthly Archives: May 2011

Balancing the brain

You will probably favour using one side of the brain more than the other, but let’s take a quick look at how each half performs and you can work out which dominance you are. The left side of the brain is logical and linear whilst the right side governs the emotional and esoteric. Right now you have probably worked out which side you use more naturally. Generally, people who are good with maths and science, will use the left side of the brain as it controls logic and analytical processes. Those who are naturally inclined to the arts or music and use emotional responses or feelings to gain insight are said to be “right-brained”.

If we can learn to use both sides more equally, then we can become more balanced. Imagine being logical and scientific yet spiritual and insightful at the same time.

Meditation is one way of balancing the brain, particularly focused meditation. An ideal way to focus is to find an image that causes your perception to shift.

Let your eyes move over the image and find a spot to focus on. If your eyes move, your perception of the image changes and you may start to notice movement. Different areas will dominate. Keep focusing on the centre of the image and then close your eyes and allow the image to fade away.

You may notice an awareness in your head, if it feels like a headache you have concentrated too hard!

Another method of balancing the brain is to walk a labyrinth. The labyrinth walk allows you to cross the midbrain when the tiny hairs or cilia in your inner ear react as you move first left and then right.

Can’t access a labyrinth?

Then enlarge the picture to the right and make a finger labyrinth and trace around the pathway with your index finger until you reach the centre, pause and return to the exit. You may feel an unusual sensation in the midline of your head if you do this too quickly. It is just the result of your brain being used in a different way from usual.

To gain even more from the exercises above, use alternate nostril breathing to help balance your brain. If you have a cold or blocked sinuses, this exercise is best left until you are able to breathe easily through both nostrils.

Place your hand over your face so that you can block off a nostril with your thumb and the other nostril with your little finger. The palm of your hand will be toward you. Rest your index & middle fingers in the centre of your forehead.

  1. Close off the left nostril and breathe out through the right
  2. Keep the left nostril closed and breath in through the right
  3. Close off the right nostril and breathe out through the left
  4. Keep the right nostril closed and breath in through the left
  5. Repeat the process until you get into a comfortable and relaxed routine.

As you finish the exercises become aware of how you feel.

Balanced and grounded.

Meditation

There are many forms of meditation around and there is sure to be one style that suits you. Make it a regular practice and you will enjoy the lasting health benefits too.

Four styles of meditation that I teach and practice are

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Focused
  3. Relaxation
  4. Visualization

Mindfulness Meditation is simply that. Being mindful of what you are doing now. I read recently that the future is only an illusion and it is important to be mindful of your actions and be fully present. Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and the more you do it the sharper your focus becomes. For instance, I am typing now and mindful that as my thoughts come on this topic, my fingers move automatically over the keys. I am aware of the touch of the tips of my fingers on the keys and the difference in texture of the home keys under my index fingers. I am also aware of my eyes tracking the characters as they appear on the page and the cursor acts as a stop, thereby focusing my attention no further than the word being typed. I can then turn my attention to how I am sitting and the ambient air temperature – a chilly Melbourne morning! I am also aware of the sound of the keys as I quickly type this post and the gentle hum of the computer hard drive as it processes the information.

Focused meditation is just that. Focus. You can focus on anything you choose. Starting with the breath is just fine and creating an easy rhythm of in and out breath is very relaxing. Using a candle is another simple and accessible method. Light the candle and focus on the area between the flame and the wick – it’s usually a blue colour. Why focus here? The flame will move around with drafts and the process of burningĀ  and that can cause your attention to wander. The centre of the flame is more likely to be still.

Relaxation meditation such as clenching various muscles & then relaxing them, from the top of the head down to the tips of the toes combined with breath awareness is a wonderful way of winding down after a busy day. Doing it with the eyes open or closed doesn’t matter, but if you have your eyes closed and then gently open them at the end of the relaxation, then you will notice that your perception of the light and surroundings will have changed. If you are doing this in a group, take a few moments to gather your thoughts and you may even notice how different other people look as well. The tension that was stored in the facial muscles has miraculously melted away.

Visualization meditation is only limited by your imagination.

Where do you want to be today?

In your mind’s eye, you can go anywhere, create anything. This form of meditation is often used as a guided meditation where the facilitator will take you on a tour using metaphor and your imagination provides the images. Not just for escape, as by using the creative power of your imagination, you can gain insight and clarity for problems that you previously thought were insurmountable.