The definition of “box” is a container, usually square of rectangular, with a hinged or removable lid. When you think of a box, you think of linearity – straight edges, sides, corners – a closed off space. In modern lexicon, the “box” beholds a semi-derogatory subtext implying linear thinking, conformism, and lack of creativity.
Lately, I’ve come to understand the “box” as exemplifying the left brain. The left brain is our logical mind; the part of our thinking machine that problem solves using facts and memories and acquired experiences and skills. It is the seat of yang or male energy and described as active, aggressive, upward moving, strong, and dominant. It’s very useful if we’re solving mathematical problems, applying logic, or fighting wars. It brings balance and focus to the untamed creative mind. It is of less use when it comes to solutions requiring creativity or matters of the heart.
Conversely, the right brain is our source of creativity and imagination. It is the seat of our yin or female energy and characterized as soft, still, submissive, passive, intuitive, and downward moving. It is said to be where our artistic impulses arise along with those emotions and feelings which are credited with being our guidance system for navigating the choppy and often treacherous waters of our mortal experience.
Whereas the left brain is all about structure, form, and logic, the right brain is softer, more fluid and bendy. If the right brain is the stiff, rigid flag pole, the right brain would be the flag – soft, flexible and easily moved by an invisible breeze. This analogy also suggests the interdependence between these dualistic aspects: the flag needs to pole to fly, and the pole has no purpose without the flag.
I’ve been struggling of late with reconciling these two opposing influences in my life. I was born a right brain person. The gift bestowed upon me by the universe is the ability to connect with Divine wisdom and articulate complex ideas and esoteric topics into understandable and relatable prose. Some do this through art, others through music or speech. My medium is the written word.
Conversely, I was also born with a healthy helping of logic and intelligence which has allowed me to function successfully in a left brain world. My parents were both teachers, and not intrinsically creative. As a result, there was a strong focus on academic excellence throughout my youth. Because I was forced to work at developing my left brain skill set, I learned to excel in math and science even though those subjects required a willful application of my less developed left brain and pushing my more evolved right brain to the sidelines.
Owing to my strong test scores, I was counseled to pursue a career in engineering or science. I tried to respect and follow the advice of those who seemed to know what was best for me. I was always a fan of outer space (as that’s where my thoughts tended to dwell most of the time), so I enrolled in the Aerospace Engineering program at Purdue University, ready to embark upon a career in doing whatever aerospace engineers do. When I attended my first calculus class, they handed me a textbook the size of the Chicago phone book. I still remember turning as green as the cover of the text. If that was what it meant to be an engineer, I knew I wanted no part of it.
Since those days, I’ve been negotiating an ongoing conflict between my left and right brains. I was trained to rely on my left brain to solve problems. I was taught to reason things out. In the process, my right brain creativity became marginalized, benched until called upon to do something which required – well, creativity. To this day, my automatic default response to any problem is to ask how or why, thereby engaging my left brain logic and practicality to find a clever and creative answer. Never before had I considered that my creative right brain could also be used to solve problems, perhaps more effectively and creatively than the linearity and logic proffered by my left brain.
What I’m beginning to understand is the ego lives in the left brain whereas Spirit dwells in the right. This speaks to our dual human/spiritual composition. We are half of a physical, human, animal with all the primordial baggage that goes along with it. Somewhere buried in our DNA is a survival gene that prompts a fear response to any sort of perceived threat to our physical longevity. The strong and/or smart survive. Because society has advanced to the point we rarely require great physical strength in our jobs (unless you’re a professional football player or piano mover), we now mostly rely on our wits and cleverness to ensure our survival.
The complement to our animal nature is Spirit. We are spiritual beings of light on a physical journey. Within each of us dwells a fragment of the Source of all things, guiding us, informing us, calling us homeward. Abraham (Abraham-Hicks) tells us that our emotions are our built in guidance system. What feels good to us tells us we’re on the right track and what feels icky or uncomfortable a signal we’re off course. If our emotions live mostly in our right brain, it would stand to reason that the guidance Abraham mentions is actually Spirit trying to communicate with us and lead us in the direction of Source, Divinity, and likely our destiny.
Which isn’t to say the left brain is a bad thing. The principle of yin and yang is balance, equilibrium. Two opposing energies interconnected and working together. At least in modern culture, however, it appears those two energies are out of balance.
For generations, society has placed great value on the left brained individual. We relied on that strong, masculine energy to get us through industrialization, economic depressions, and several wars. Now more than ever, our world hungers for scientists. Primary schools nationwide are adopting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) curricula. We read about the “shortage” of female engineers. High schoolers are told to pursue careers in computer science, engineering, or finance if they want a guaranteed job with a hefty salary after graduation.
It seems the pendulum has swung so far toward the left that left brain thinking has become a prized virtue worthy of respect and adulation whereas the softer, gentler right brainers are pushed to the fringe and discounted, often earning the label of dreamers or losers. Jobs in medicine, business, engineering are plentiful and generously compensated. Careers in the arts are difficult to come by and tend to come with rather meager incomes in comparison.
It appears we may now be poised on the brink of a revolution where the pendulum is about to swing back toward right brain sensibilities. The modern day prophets all speak of a transformation – a refocusing from the material side of our duality to the spiritual; from a left brain civilization led by ego to a more heart-centered one guided by Spirit and love.
Personally, the universe has been pushing me to let go of my attachment to logic and left brain thinking and instead pay more attention to the guidance offered by my right brain consciousness – aka intuition. It’s not an easy ask and will no doubt necessitate great practice. It requires developing an awareness of my old habitual response patterns so I might catch them before they inform my decisions. It demands patience. It entails quieting the monkey mind and finding a place of peace and equanimity to allow me to hear the gentle whisper of Spirit and act upon its advice.
Shaltazar calls this skill connecting with our inner DNA wisdom which we can accomplish by letting go of the mind. First, take deep breath and drop into your senses. Feel the moment. It takes discipline because the mind is uncomfortable not being the center of attention. Once you drop your attachment to your mind, you will connect with your senses because it’s difficult to hold your attention on two things at once. Once in this state, ask yourself, “What am I feeling in this moment?” Now ask, “What do you have to tell me, Spirit? What information are you trying to communicate?” Then listen. It’s probably not a voice you will hear, but more of a knowing emanating from within, from your heart.
It is said that if we could all learn to listen – to follow that still small voice from within – then we can begin to bring the yin and yang, the masculine and feminine, the feeling and thinking of the collective consciousness back into balance. We are the vanguard force of a spiritual revolution. If we wish to assist the awakening and the expansion of consciousness, we need to step outside the “box” by feeling more and thinking less.