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Turn Right At The Horse

 We are all acquainted with the right brain, left brain terminology. Like we all know that all those doctors and lawyers and other success savvy folks are left brained, and that all the artsy fartsy, and "creative," or in other words, broke, people are using mostly their right brain.

Well, a couple days ago, I was introduced to a theory that turned all the other right brain/left brain stuff on to its head. This theory, oddly enough (or not, because it's me after all), starts with horses. I know, here some of you who know me well enough to have sat through hours of horse talk, will roll your eyes and scroll down to see the pictures. The rest of you? You might as well read the post. Who knows, maybe it will spark a horsey interest, or at least some new trivia facts.


To start, the brain has many sections and parts that work together and independently to keep us up and running, but to simplify the anatomy here, our cortex is divided into two hemispheres. They are connected by a piece of tissue called the corpus callosum, which serves basically as a network runway that allows data to travel from one side to the other. Sometimes this strip can be damaged or severed, or like in Leo's case, not exist at all. In this case, the two brains need to figure out another way to communicate. But in reality, our hemispheres don't talk all that much. We humans, during our long process of evolution and growth have found out that the left brain is way more lucrative and brings back more meat then the right brain. Here's why. The right brain is where things like emotion, intuition, spirituality, and unity live. The left brain is where we keep things like communication, thought, math skills and individuality. The left brain has given us the power of verbal speech so that working as a team, a group of hunters can quickly and efficiently take down the fattest elk, or perhaps, in our case, the most juicy burger (and fries please).
What's so bad about that, you may ask. (Other than high cholesterol!) Well, I'll tell you. Take for example our skill of speech.

"When patterns of the brain's hemispheric dominance emerge in the first years of life, the left side exerts and wonderful capability: it speaks. As we develop, our language function improves dramatically, and the left brain explores how to name, label, and even make demands. It discovers the capacity not only to interact with others but also to influence and even direct them. Somewhere along this intoxicating path of cognitive development, we come to a threshold, a point of no return. The duality of subject and object takes root.
Like a radio, language requires a transmitter and receiver, a me and a you, a speaker and a listener. Language stems from identity, but it also creates separation. As infants, we all experience the prototypical communal bond of mother and child. We are born into a true state of oneness, of shared being. But as we grow through childhood, this innocent, primal state is weakened and later, forever shattered by speech. As we learn to communicate our needs, we also learn that these appetites and wants are ours along. These desires are what we perceive from within, and there's a world beyond us that must be manipulated to satisfy them. We all readily submit to the internalized autocracy imposed by the left hemispheres language function. For most of us, the left's supremacy is absolute. We scarcely have an suspicion that one entire half of our brain, an alternate awareness, has been almost completely suppressed and hidden from our conscious accessibility. But this is precisely what's happened. It's why, for so much of our lives, we rarely get beyond our own egos." 

This excerpt was taken from the book of the man who has inspired this post. Dr. Allen Hamilton is not only a MD in Neurosurgery, he is also a stellar horse trainer. And I got to meet him yesterday and listen to his theory in person and he autographed his book, "Zen Mind, Zen Horse," to our little Leo man.
Ok ok, this all may make some kind of weird sense, so now what? How the heck do we tap into our illusive and silent right brain? How can we change the all dominating ME to the loving and unifying WE? And do we really want to? If you happen to love horses/and or have a child like Leo, the answer is a big screaming YES.
As I was astounded to learn, horses also lack a functional corpus callosum! Like another great Aussie horse-trainer says, "Every horse owner actually gets two horses for each one they have purchased; one called "Righty" and a second one called "Lefty." It's a case of the more brains on the look out, the "merrier" or perhaps in this case, "not tiger bait." But the most remarkable thing is that even though horses may have these divisions, they have kept a wholeness and a communion with each other that we humans can't even compare to. The horse doesn't think of himself as I, but as we, the herd. The horse, even the one that stands alone in your neighbor's field, is never truly alone because in his head, that concept is alien.
The horse has figured out how to make his two separate brains achieve complete unity with himself and those around him. And because of his notoriously generous and loyal spirit, he is willing to share that secret with us lefty gimps. Which is why we, humans, have been obsessed with horses for over 30,000 years.  
"There is an old Celtic proverb: A friend's eye is a good mirror." Because horses can so easily reflect back our inner state of mind, they serve as "divine mirrors." They return to us our emotional truth; what we feel is what they see."

And crazily, this describes our Leo to a T. He too, though deemed handicapped and abnormal by our society's standards, is in reality way beyond us in the skill of communication. How else did he mange to capture the love of so many people with just a look? When he was born, he wrapped our souls around his finger and redefined our singleness into togetherness. He, like those majestic creatures, has a brain and a heart that knows no limits to love.


For those who don't recognize this clip, it's taken from the old movie: The Black Stallion, when the boy befriends the wild and abused horse and they learn to be partners. It's my favorite horsey moment in all movie time! I do however apologize for the soundtrack, I couldn't find the clip on YouTube without ultra cheesy text or music. At least this one has all the best scenes and I think I can live with the Cranberries, at least this time...

Comments

  1. This is fascinating! Thanks so much for sharing Anna. Have you ever seen this: http://blog.ted.com/2008/03/12/jill_bolte_tayl/

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  2. "How the heck do we tap into our illusive and silent right brain?" Anna, when you say this do you mean "elusive," hard to capture, baffling, evasive---or do you mean "illusive," deceiving by false show, illusory, unreal? "Elusive" makes more sense in terms of what you've said already and in terms of what I know from reading about left and right brain. Your source of information sounds interesting. I'm going to look him up...Love from Leesha

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