I have an overactive right side, physically, which has contributed to the thoracic outlet syndrome the medical profession diagnosed years ago. Everything from my right eye to my right toes works harder than the left side of my body (except the gluteus minimus). If you look closely at my physical structure, in person, you can see even my right cervical spine is pushing to the left. Take a look at the picture next to this post, and you can see my right side pushing towards my left.
Now, some of this stands to reason since I am right handed. So, it is safe to assume I would dominate with my right side somewhat. However, the amount of structural and muscular movement is beyond regular right-hand dominance.
At physical therapy last week I underwent a little vision/physical experiment. My physical therapist wanted to patch my right eye and conduct some movement tests. With my right eye covered I was astounded to experience my muscle tension and contraction ability shift. All of the sudden I had more flexibility, all over my body. My neck freely moved from side to side. My right arm and right hip were no longer limited in their mobility. I could balance on one foot more effectively without falling over. I could feel my nervous system quiet down. I felt a sense of calm run through my body as my breathing slowed down and the “high-alert” skittishness subsided. We then took the eye patch off and ran through the series of tests again and BAM, everything was back to being less mobile on my right side.
This experience aroused my curiosity. Over the past week, I have started looking more into how our senses work. Of course, I know the basics we all know, but so often what we think we know and delving into the information at a later stage in life illuminates knowledge in a whole new way.
When you see something outside of yourself, you do not truly see it outside. What? Yep, you heard me. To simplify when your eyes look at something they produce electrical impulses then your brain interprets those signals and generates an image – INSIDE. When you are looking at that tree you pass by every day you do not see the tree directly, but rather an image your brain produced of that tree for your consciousness to see.
I have often read in ancient spiritual philosophy that the world happens inside not outside and as I settle down and reinvestigate the sense of sight; I understand what that means.
The action of sight has to go through your brain, your automatic, smart, intelligent computer of a brain. There is no way, I can find, my life experiences are not influencing the way my brain produces images and therefore affects what I see in the world. What about smell, touch, and hearing? They all work similarly, in the end passing through your brain to communicate and offer an interpretation to your consciousness.
Here is a very intriguing exercise if you are up to it. Try to sit by yourself for even just 5 minutes and watch what happens as you sense things. Frankly, I found it overwhelming but well worth it. One night while sitting on my back porch I attempted to hear what I was hearing without defining what I was hearing. Otherwise, to have my brain not interfere with what I was hearing. I began this process when I heard an ambulance coming. I watched as my brain quickly named it “ambulance.” It then threw danger images into my feelings, a car crash, a person having a heart attack or a domestic assault call. Since this all happened in about a nanosecond, I continued to try to move aside the computer and just hear it for the sake of hearing it. As I attempted to move beyond the automatic brain response and let it come all the way through I tried to feel as if I had no idea what it was. It was nearly impossible for any length of time. Next, I became aware of the straw I was drinking through in my water glass and how the shape of it felt on my mouth. I could experience the way touch was coordinated with my vision and relating the two together to produce an image. Attempting to remove the automatic brain interpretation was more accessible for me with visual and touch senses. Once I could repeat this process, it spontaneously brought up hysterical laughter. Seriously. Outside at 9 pm on my back porch, I was laughing by myself. There was a feeling about how much I had taken my experiences from my senses as reality. I never slowed down as an observer of my senses to see how my experiences were altered by them. I realized what I thought I knew was something I did not know at all.
How many times have you been startled because you either felt, heard, or saw something one way and upon another glance or touch you quickly discovered it was not what you thought at all. When that realization occurred your entire nervous system re-shifted and all the feelings of fear subsided.
Conducting this experiment, I realize how our senses shape our experience in the world and how the brain intervenes with the experience of what we sense. It is entirely possible what we perceive is happening to us or around us is not really what is happening at all but rather how our brain has interpreted that moment from its past experiences. It is us, living inside us, and shaping the world as us and it accentuates the great need for curiosity so we can establish a pause within the automatic human system and truly begin to be one with life.
(photo by Sam Manns)