It’s such a simple concept straight from earliest childhood yet perhaps it bears saying again at this time. When left hand helps right hand, the two working together in equal partnership, it not only gets things done but there’s a beautiful poetry in motion about it. When I take a break out from what I’m really wanting to be doing…like just now, waiting for the kettle to boil before going off to do my yoga (such a mundane interruption, you might think), the five or ten minutes I spent tidying the kitchen, unpacking and reloading the dishwasher and wiping down the surfaces was like a well choreographed dance; in fact I have come to love it as a sort of active meditation to start my day. Why so? Because of the fact that I use both left and right arms, fluidly, to their maximum capacity yet equally, in perfect harmony with one another so that, even whilst one might be pouring liquid from a cup and stashing it in the tray to be washed, the other hand is already stretched out to put a clean fork back in the drawer and reach for yet another thing to be washed. I covered so much ground in short time, my body twisted and flexed fluidly from side to side like I was an elegantly swaying tree in a wind yet there was no exhaustion to it; I hardly had to move my feet and the kitchen was sparkling in no time. No need to stop and think “what next?”, to negotiate about who wants to do what or to mediate disagreements; it was all very obvious which each part was doing and why, making it a seamless effort towards a shared goal of cleanliness and order in minimum time.
We all do this when we drive, when we play sport or pursue crafts and the most gifted do it in their academic studies and their work practice yet how often do we notice that we are doing it or how important it is to our lives? We seem to be most rusty at it when it comes to our social engagement, our corporate idea of job description, in our economics and politics and when it comes to making global decisions including those relating to ecology. We need to remember that it’s so much more than a nice idea, or a recreational idea, to use the left and right sides of ourselves together; the very act of doing this daily heals the rift between the hemispheres of our brain and makes everything in our experience much more cohesive. However mundane-seeming, it can be the very first step in a process of waking up to a whole different world of experience.
It was for me. I had to learn this hemispherical cohesion to a whole new level when I first started to draw after a two decade pause in my art practice; when I was told every week by a life-study coach that I needed to keep changing my charcoal stick from the comfort zone of my right hand to the terribly awkward and hesitant left and seamlessly continue my drawing. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me; my fragmented sense of everything started to come back together at that point and three years of that practice played its part. It also stood me in good stead as an artist; years later, though I might not use left hand for the precision work, I would notice how I used both hands to smear and smudge paint together on a canvas and there was something beautifully cohesive about the results of using both hands simultaneously like that. It would always happen most at those times of greatly heightened and inspired creativity, when a sort of urgency and a new and wonderfully cohesive sense of shared and uniform intention would pull both aspects of myself together towards a single creative vision. In fact ending the day with both hands equally covered in paint became my sure-sign that I had had the best kind of day and it would play out in my mood for many hours afterwards.
Yoga helped me further with this endeavour then I had to develop it even more when I took up dancing; slowly, steadily making smoother those first awkward left-foot routines so that they flowed seamlessly into the right until, by the end, I would be delirious with joy and exhilaration. Again, now I’m learning a wind instrument, the same challenge has come up for me as I learn the fingering to get me through three octaves using just two hands positioned on six holes. This is, in part, a remembered skill from childhood, though a different instrument to before; which makes me newly appreciate how much easier these left-right collaborations are to turn into habit when we are very young (my attempts at learning piano at the age of nearly fifty seemed so much harder and unlikely to go far). Only the left brain seems to balk at such collaboration, saying “it can’t be done”; the right is always more than willing to have a go and the pay off is very high. When we keep daily practices going that use this collaborative skill set (ideally without interruption from childhood…but its never to late to start), we make it a lifetime pay-off, not just for ourselves but for everyone else around us.
I feel like I have spent an entire lifetime studying this phenomenon and I study it still; in constant awe of the unrealised heights of cohesion and joy that seem to be available when we just keep pushing the union further. There is something orgasmic about reaching that single point of collaboration; which is exactly what orgasm is…a meeting place of body and spirit. You could say, an experience that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Such an experience should be all the enticement it takes so why are we, often, so far off from the mark; as though we have developed chronic amnesia or had the remembrance of wholeness trained out of us by something that had more chaotic intentions in mind. When we are motivated to seek this union-point across all of our skills and activities, our daily lives, careers, our societal, political and global affairs, we will all reach that delirium of a single focus together; reached by collaborative means that make all our diverse gifts, leanings and priorities equally useful to the mix. I have no doubt, the swiftness and ease with which we will pull ourselves together will be astonishing when we reach such a point; poetry in motion, you could say. We already have the skill set; we just need to put in the daily practice, wherever we can gain it (however mundane or apparently trivial) and…step by step, we will start to dance to the same heightened tune.