I am doing some research for my book that helps to support an awareness I have had that the shift that we call awakening is mirrored in the brain and that this shift is one that leads to a flowering or catalyzing of a greater amount of the right brain functions in us. To keep it short and sweet, I will mention that current research has shown that the right brain, most notably the right frontal cortex, is considered to be the seat of many mystical experiences. it is also the part of us that is most capable of glimpsing the very big picture that the experience of nonduality offers. But along with this blooming of the right brain also comes the emotions that have been associated with that part of our brain, which is most notably feelings related to sadness.
Is the right brain sad?
In a sense, the answer is….kind of. Our capacity to experience or process feelings of sadness do appear to be located right alongside our mystical experiences. This part of the brain has been associated with the experience of deja-vu, sensing “Presence” (spiritual beings, God/Goddess, etc.) and being able to see how things are connected in our lives and world. It is, in a word, one important way that we are able to perceive the “implicate order” of the cosmos and builds this awe-inspiring sense of how everything is quite literally completely interconnected.
So if the right brain allows us to sense deep into our sorrow, does the left brain do something different? Turns out that it does! And this is an important tool for each of you reading this who have struggled with awakening symptoms and effects. While you may feel as though you have been launched into another world by this experience, the lesson here is that you might need to consider bringing your left brain along with you, too! The left brain has been shown to allow us to tap into our more positive forward-looking emotions. While its important to recognize what ails you, its just as important to know how to pick yourself back up with your left brained capacity to feel positive about life.
I think it really is all a question of balance, personally. I find that people who are more analytical tend not to let the weight of the world get them down, but many times they also can ignore the material that needs careful processing in order to get through it properly. This could represent a kind of cognitive and emotional blind-spot of sorts. On the other hand, getting too deep into the sorrow end of things is just as bad because it can become a trap. I know. When my awakening took a sudden turn in 2009 after about three years of symptoms related to it, I found that my right brain was called upon to deal with the sheer volume of stuff flowing into me. Correspondingly, I came upon a place in my inner work that I write about in my book that I call the Sea of Sorrow. At first my inclination was to just face this sorrow and let it out. I spent time each day just letting myself cry. That was a big first for me since before this experience, I could only think of a couple of instances in my adult life where I was actually able to have a good cry. I had learned the well-worn ways of being a man who had to be depended upon to be that emotional rock for everyone else around him. The only problem with this is that…..we are not rocks. So getting to this place I thought was a milestone.
I thought that I could just purge myself of all this sadness. What I experienced was the sense that I was in a vast sea of emotion, a collective grief, if you will, and I went from thinking it was mine to realizing that this belonged to all of us. The day came when I wised up and realized, “This is all of our work to purge if it even NEEDS to be purged…..this is just too much for any one person.” With that, I set about doing meditations that showed me setting up a sail in my little boat away from these sorrowful waters. I had to make the intention that this was no longer a place that would bring me any lasting benefit. This was an issue for a different time. It may also be that this is an issue that we each will face in our own way, but getting down into the collective muck is not the answer. I sense that this grief will be cleansed when enough of us chose to forgive and forget, seeing all of the hurt and deciding that it is time to just let it go. I also sense that higher force in us will have to do this work, and so I pray that if this is correct, that whatever in us that is able to do this, will do so.
As for the research and all of the official citations, I am saving that for my book.
So keep it balanced folks, and all the best of luck in all your work!