Ravi and Rakesh were friends. But they were complete opposites. Ravi liked the detail in everything: he was excellent in organising, planning and taking care of the nitty-gritty. He was analytical and processed information in a sequential way. He was good at math and spellings as well. Rakesh, on the other hand, was more holistic. He saw the whole and not the parts. He loved the arts, dreamt a lot, was intuitive, emotional, creative, visual, musical, lateral, unorganised and spontaneous.
What made them different was the way their brains were wired. Ravi’s left-brain was dominant and Rakesh’s right.
The part of the brain that controls rational functions, the cerebral cortex, is made up of two halves. These are connected by masses of nerve fibres, which allow 'messages' to pass between them. These halves are commonly called the right brain and left brain, but should more correctly be termed 'hemispheres'. For some reason, our right and left hemispheres control the 'opposite' side of our bodies: so the right hemisphere controls our left side while the left hemisphere controls the right side.
The concept of right brain and left brain thinking developed from the research in the late 1960s of an American psychobiologist Roger W Sperry. He discovered that the human brain has two very different ways of thinking. One (the right brain) is visual and processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous way, looking first at the whole picture then the details. The other (the left brain) is verbal and processes information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole. Sperry was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1981.
If you analyse your personality, you will be able to identify with the Ravis or Rakeshs of the world. Having said that, it is important to know which side of your brain is dominant and what kind of a person you are.
Here’s an easy test to check if you are predominantly right or left-brain. Clasp your hand together and check out which thumb is uppermost. Left-brainers will keep their left thumb up and right-brainers will keep their right.
Learning and thinking processes are enhanced when both sides of the brain participate in a balanced manner. This would mean strengthening the less-dominant hemisphere of your brain. The ancients knew this very well and designed rituals to aid the process. Do you know how? Have you observed how Hindus pray to Lord Ganpati? They cross their hands below the chin and hold their ear lobes (the right earlobe held by the left thumb and index finger, and the left one by the right thumb and index finger), and bend down a couple of times as if asking for forgiveness.
The traditional explanation to this ritual is as mentioned – “asking forgiveness for the sins committed.” But the actual meaning is far deeper. This ritual is a technique to balance the right and left brain hemispheres of the brain. The right ear lobe corresponds to the left brain and the left ear lobe corresponds to the right brain. When the right ear lobe is gently squeezed with the left thumb and left index finger with the thumb outside, it is said to produce the necessary energy connection. This connection causes the left brain and pituitary gland to become energized and activated. Ditto with the other side. For energizing and activating both hemispheres, the left arm must be inside, while the right arm must be outside. In the west, this simple ritual that has been followed for eons in India, is being called Super Brain Yoga.
There is a lot of meaning to many rituals that have been handed down to us by our ancestors. All it needs on our part is to analyse it and understand the true meaning for which it was originally created.