Given a fully functional right and left hemisphere of the brain it is – as Timothy Gallway· showed in his fascinating “Inner Game” series of volumes on tennis, golf, music etc. – possible and advantageous to develop the concept and practice of cooperation between the two. In the nonverbal knowledge of, let us say, tennis skills, it is the right brain that has the competitive edge. Some verbal instruction is of course necessary. However, it is the visual and kinaesthetic· imagery and memory that conveys the application of skill in motion. Almost all sportsmen and women talk to themselves, encouraging criticizing etc. However – and according to Gallway – potential is only truly maximized when Self 1 takes a back seat and Self 2 prevails. Furthermore, it is not unlikely that you will have experienced something akin to this at some point.
Perhaps you were on the dance floor and then – maybe to your astonishment and when you were not even trying and least expected it – you were “just dancing”. Everything at that time was, as one might say “in sync”, fully coordinated and fulfilling in the extreme. Others talk about “Being in the zone”. In such moments, the left-brain is acquiescent, enabling the right brain to do what in that setting it does best, i.e. just “dance”. That is perhaps until you ‘called-in” the left-brain, by beginning to once more consciously contemplate your performance and the steps you were taking. (Of course, these needed to be learned at one time but only as a means to an end; that “end” being the reward and sheer delight of dancing).
The plain truth is that both are needed, as and when appropriate, to fulfil us totally. Compare it if you will to the manner in which an experienced builder can provide a reasonably accurate costing or estimate, merely on surveillance of a plot of land and a set of plans. Left-brain activity and experience will, of course, be crucial to the accuracy of the final detailed account; but partnership between the two is clearly self-evident. Nature’s way of maintaining order and control and of avoiding conflict is very plainly, to keep them separate. Yet – and although they speak a very different ‘language’ whilst playing to the ‘rules’, i.e. concerning wellbeing – they nevertheless require to be unified. Should you need further proof of what is written above, just trying reciting the first two lines of a weii known song or poem” backwards (and without cheating!). Clearly some people pursue tasks and occupations, which require and exhibit the dominance of one hemisphere for much of the time. Many athletes and artists are not verbally creative at all. Rock, ‘blues’ and jazz performers refer to “Soul”; a form of musical expression, which militates against intellectualism, in favour of sentiment and emotion. By contrast, left-brain types occupy jobs and pursue professions in education and literary criticism.
We should therefore consider an Aristotle (a philosopher and logician) or a Max Planck (father of quantum theory) or an Albert Einstein (physicist) to be very decided “left brain types”. Yet was it not Aristotle who wrote of the “impossibility of thought without a mental picture”; Max Planck who counselled “a vivid intuitive imagination for new ideas” and Einstein who informed the world that for him, the “elements” of physics were ever “vivid and muscular”. And for good measure, it seems that Mozart would ask his wife to read to him, in order to release him to write down on manuscript what he was ‘hearing’ in his head.
We surely need to avidly take up this incredible yet readily available duality that the mind possesses, if only in humble acknowledgement of the truth; namely that there is so much more to what some politicians pompously ‘peddle’ as “education, education, education”. The world around us – within and without – i.e. in our thoughts and feelings, our hopes and dreams, our achievements and disappointments, our ‘running’ experience of the world and of all with whom we share time and space – all possesses inherent natural beauty. Moreover, we shall, in blogs yet to be posted under the heading “Routes…. to Relaxation and Healing” make detailed reference to entire systems of non-verbal learning, which the world has witnessed over many centuries, i.e. Zen, Tao and Yoga. On the other hand, the underlying and underpinning philosophies of these – as well as of some of the world’s great religions – can at times amount to little short of a denial of to left hemisphere activity; whereas what we increasingly see to be needed to operate this genetically-programmed lateralization is balance and harmony.
- Timothy Gallway, a tennis pro who throughout the ‘70s’ and ‘80s’, originated and introduced the “Inner Game” approach and published a series of books, i.e. “The Inner Game of Tennis”, “The Inner Game of Golf”, “The Inner Game of Music etc.. Gallway referred throughout, not to right or left hemispheres of the brain but to a verbal and conscious “Self 1” and a separate, unconscious “Self 2”. Peak performance, according to Gallway, is achieved only when Self 1 stands aside and allows Self 2 to play the game. Kinaesthesia is that sense of awareness of the position and movement of voluntary body muscles.