Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Beyond Left vs. Right

"Where things are not equal, balanced, or healthy, they need to be let go of or re-negotiated." --Divine Harmony 

Over the past couple of years I have begun to notice how very right-sided I am. For forty-three years I have done almost everything with my right hand. I brush my teeth with my right hand. I text with my right hand. I scrub pots and pans with my right hand. I scoop up my kids with my right hand. I write with my right hand.

And I had never even noticed the imbalance this was creating in my body - and in my life - until very recently. Suddenly I became very aware that the nerves in my right arm felt tender after using the computer for a long period of time, that the right side of my body felt tense after a 30 minute swim, that my right calf felt tight after a run, while the left side of my body still felt strong, healthy, and loose after these same activities.

Once I noticed it, I couldn't not notice it, and it became more and more clear that the two sides of my body were seriously imbalanced. So I decided to start playing around with this to see if I could change it at all.

I started small, by brushing my teeth with my left hand instead of my right. It felt odd, and I wasn't sure my dentist would approve, but it also felt oddly liberating, as if I were breaking some unwritten rule, which I guess in a way I was -  the unwritten rule of my genetics.

Next I started swimming differently. Breathing to the left side occasionally instead of to the right side on every stroke. At first I could only do a lap or two this way, before having to revert to right-side breathing only, but after a very short time (shorter than I would have imagined) I was able to do fully half of my work-out using left-side breathing. Now when I get out of the pool, my body feels more balanced than at any other time of the day.

I have also moved my mouse to the left side of my computer and I try to use my left-hand mouse about 90% of the time to redress the imbalance of years of right-hand only mousing. It is still awkward, but I don't feel as tender on my right side when I get up from my computer as I used to.

I still have to remind myself to text with my left hand or brush my teeth with my left hand, neither come naturally yet, and I have only recently started to experiment with pot scrubbing with my left hand. It is extremely difficult to get a dirty pot really, really clean with my left hand, but I am committed to seeing how far I can take this. And I am more than curious to see how it effects my life in other ways.

Theoretically, by using the left side of my body more often, I am also using my right brain more often, which may lead to more highly developed right-brain thinking. And that could revolutionize my life. In a way the whole point of my spiritual journey is to get out of my linear left brain and into my more intuitive right brain. Can changing the way I use my body facilitate and support this process in a new way? I have no idea, but am eager to find out what secondary changes I may experience as a result of this new, more balanced way of using my body.

Which brings us to today.

Today we as a nation will decide which way we want to go politically over the next four years. Are we going to stay left or turn to the right? And which is better for all us?

Those of you who know me know what I believe, but let's look objectively for a moment at these two choices and and the past four years.

Despite his - I believe - earnest intent to be a bridge-builder, Barack Obama's presidency has had a polarizing effect on our country. The hatred and vitriol on talk radio and cable television is getting worse instead of better. Our elected representatives in Washington are less likely than ever to work with someone across the isle to effect real change. And we are all well and truly frightened for the future of this country.

Many "red" voters honestly believe that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, recognizing the right of all people to marry, and reelecting Barack Obama are signs that this country is going to hell in a hand basket, while many "blue" voters believe that electing Mitt Romney as our next president will turn our country into an uninhabitable den of corruption, deceit and lies. (If I am honest, I may believe this a bit myself.) 

The thing is, we are all going to have to live with the outcome of this election. And that outcome, either way, is going to be hugely imbalanced.

This polarization and lack of respect hurts us all. And it is having ripple effects throughout our country similar to the ripple-effects forty-three years of over-reliance on the right side of my body has had in my life.

Which is why, no matter what the outcome of the election today I am going to try not to gloat or grieve, but to look for the positive in whatever comes next. To re-negotiate my relationship to our country's politics. And, as Barack Obama would have us all do, to remember:

"There is not a liberal America and a conservative America - there is the United States of America. "
 

Whatever the outcome of the election today, may we all have the courage to re-negotiate our relationship to our next President and to each other. To find the places where we meet. To achieve balance. To see things not as black or white, red or blue, but shades of purple.

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