Tips for Arriving at Creative SolutionsGord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak RSS July 2, 2015
Left Brain / Right Brain Solutions
The human brain is a natural wonder of mind-boggling complexity: a structure divided into two parts, with one side of the brain controlling the opposite side of the body. The left (analytical) side concerns itself with language, arithmetic, and logical problem solving and controls the right side of the body; whereas the right side of the brain tends to our emotional and creative faculties and controls the left side of the body.
Generally, the left brain is dominant and manages auditory function: it processes what we hear and handles most of the tasks regarding speech. When we’re looking for data and facts that we’ve stored away, it is the left brain that searches and retrieves them from our memory. It’s also taxed with logistical and exacting mathematical problems.
The brain’s right hemisphere handles our spatial tasks: our ability to recognize faces and process music, for example. It can also solve some basic, rudimentary math formulations, such as simple rough estimates and comparisons. The brain’s right hemisphere assists with comprehension of visual imagery, helping us to interpret what we see. It is also involved with language, interpreting context and a person’s tone of voice.
The brain’s two hemispheres are far more complex than just a simple left vs. right equation. The brain carefully balances and assigns control of certain functions to each side. It is nature’s way of ensuring that the brain ultimately divides tasks to maximize efficiency. Most people are right-hand dominant, which means they’re controlled by the left side of the brain.
“Brain asymmetry is essential for proper brain function,” explains professor Stephen Wilson of University College London. “It allows the two sides of the brain to become specialized, increasing its processing capacity and avoiding situations of conflict where both sides of the brain try to take charge.”
When we experience strong emotions, it can be difficult for us to make a clear decision because both the right and left hemispheres of our brain are vying for position.
Note that the two hemispheres of the brain do not operate independently of one another; rather they communicate constantly across a lateral band comprised of hundreds of thousands of fibres. Have you ever been working on a problem, wanting a creative solution that would work best for everyone? This is where we can experience the two hemispheres working together. Seeking a solution to a problem leads us to examine, analyze, and research its many aspects as well as map out various scenarios. If no immediate solution presents itself, we may put it on the back burner and just ‘let it go’. We stop pouring our resources into the problem. It might be said that, at that point, it has been handed off to the next department.
However, it might happen that, one morning in the shower, a thought jumps into your head. Here, under the rushing water, you are handed the perfect solution to your problem. While you were busy thinking of other things (and not so intensely focused on your problem), your right brain handed you a solution you’ve been working so hard to find. Aha! You have just had an Aha, a Eureka moment.
It is in the creative process that we experience just how well the two halves of our brain work together. In the example above, the left brain analyzed the problem, accumulated all the available data, then stopped focusing on the problem. In other words, it let it go, and that is when the right brain picked it up, took over, and through its process, was next able to hand it back to the left brain with ideas that excited us as we clearly saw the solution to our problem.
Arriving at a Creative Solution
If we do not allow this process of the left brain analyzing, letting go, and then the right brain working behind the scenes to create possibilities, we will do what can be called ‘historical problem solving’. When we cycle and recycle a problem over and over again in our analytical left brain, we can feel bogged down and stuck.
But when we encounter problems in need of new and different solutions, the best thing we can do for ourselves is to stop letting our left brain analyze it to death. This is the point where we can get stuck and kill our creativity. The left brain is where we get into cyclical thought patterns when we go over and over something, yet have found no resolution. Since it is the left brain that also retrieves our stored information and memories, it can also access previously experienced emotions and feelings such as fear and anger. Adding these feelings to this cyclical thought pattern, we can find that we have whipped up an emotionally charged recurring twister inside our own head.
Here are a few things you can consider doing in order to bypass getting stuck inside your head:
• Identify the problem and see whether it is really your problem – perhaps you are trying to problem solve for someone else, which means it is not your problem. If it is really your problem, own it.
• Get clear as to what the problem is actually about. Often we may feel in conflict about something only to discover that what we thought was the problem is just a mask for the real issue.
• Gather as much information as you can about the issue. Share out loud what you have learned about it.
• If you start to feel stressed, sad, or angry, or if you have any strong feeling that is building undesirable energies and tension, it is time to recognize that you have initiated a maelstrom of thoughts and feelings in your head. You are stuck inside the left brain. Now, before you become engulfed by this cavalcade of old feelings and perhaps familiar behaviours which no longer serve you, take a deep breath and ask that all energies that are not of today be moved away from you. Let those whirlwind energies go.
• Affirm that you have a calm life, a blue sky; that your financials are solid and your problem is now turned over to your inner creative power.
• Release any other emotional claim you have on your situation.
• While you are occupying your left brain with lots of other fun things, allow the right brain to work on the problem.
• Somewhere, sometime, out of the blue, perhaps in the shower, a complete answer will suddenly fill your head and you will have a ‘eureka’ moment as the details play out in your mind.
Too often we allow ourselves to become bogged down by either a singular, or a series, of thoughts that can build to an emotional crescendo so big we don’t feel, see, or hear any other aspect of our self. If problem solving builds to emotional peaks, we need to become aware that old experiences are being dredged up by our left brain and incorporated into what should be the new solution we are seeking. When we stop reacting to our problems, and learn to respond to them instead, we just may reintroduce our right brain into the equation, and arrive at a creative solution.
Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak are co-founders of the Transformational Arts College of Spiritual and Holistic Training. The College offers professional training programs in Spiritual Psychotherapy, Spiritual Director, Holistic Health, and Coaching. For more information or for a course calendar, call 416-484-0454 or 1-800-TAC-SELF, or visit www.transformationalarts.com. To receive their monthly e-newsletter, email firstname.lastname@example.org