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Monday, November 28, 2011

Intuition vs Rational Mind

Apparently if you made it through "Black Friday" and you are still wanting to shop, today is "Cyber Monday" at least according to a host of marketing emails I got this morning.  I'll admit, I was happy for the work diversion/distraction on a Monday morning, but really- cyber Monday? When did that happen? And why?

Albert Einstein lived from 1879 to 1955 so I'm pretty sure he wasn't talking about Cyber Monday when he said this, but I think the quote has some relevance:
"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
The rational mind is a wonderful thing. It's really because of the attention that society as a whole has put to this side of the brain that we have a lot of the convenience and ease we enjoy in our lives today. It wasn't that long ago that survival took a lot more time and energy. Rational minds created things like industry and technology that have radically changed the way we live.  Even farmers that survive from their crops don't depend completely on their own supplies for food. They go to grocery stores, maybe on the way home from a producers board meeting and pick up something for supper. I know a few dairy farmers but I don't know any that make their own butter and  ice-cream, at least not on a regular basis. I know a lot of people that supplement their heating costs by burning wood, but I can tell you it's not always easy to buy a cord of wood when you need it because not many people cut it anymore. Instead of working that hard, we survive by other means.  We work in offices, or plants, or in those shops and stores that sell things to other people. We survive by using our rational minds. 

But, like Einstein referenced, we've rather let that rational mind get a bit out of control. We have allowed it to "up the anty" on what we consider survival.  I saw a shopper out on black Friday quoted as saying "times are tough so one has to find a bargain wherever you can". He wasn't shopping for food and a winter coat. He was looking for a new T.V. and a laptop! See, that doesn't really seem to me to qualify as "tough times", except in our rational minds. We have become servants to that driving force in our heads that says we must continue to produce, gather money, and spend it on something or another. We aren't buying canned goods to get us through the winter, we're buying 60 inch T.V's, faster laptops, devices with more apps, and things I don't even understand, but somewhere in the back of my rational mind, I think I might need- to survive? We honor the servant in us all that figures we have to keep working, wrack up the overtime, and make more money so we can live an easier life. I'm not really sure that makes sense when you stop for a minute to let that sink in. We usually don't because we are too busy listening to the rational mind that says there is work to be done if we're ever going to be able to buy those $500 winter boots that you can't actually wear in snow because they would be destroyed- but wouldn't they look good in the office???

But what about that intuitive side of the brain?  What might it suggest if we listened? In today's picture, Albert Einstein is pointing to the right side of our head- not the left. The left is that side that is the rational servant. The right side is where our intuitive, creative, feeling side comes in. Dr. Bolte-Taylor explains the two functioning sides of our brain really well and I've summarized a bit in this earlier post on her book.
The right side of the brain connects you to your feelings. It is concerned only with "the now".  It doesn't worry about what happened in the past. It isn't concerned with what might occur in the future.  It really isn't preparing for survival- it just "is".  Dr. Bolte-Taylor describes right side thinking as a pretty blissful place.

It's that concern with the past and the future that drives the rational mind. We become so concerned about what we had to do without earlier in our lives, or in lives gone by, and try so hard to set ourselves up better for the next week, next year, this Christmas, our retirement that we become slaves to that "survival panic".

It is from the right side of our brain that we feel the connection to the universe and to the divine. Maybe that's where our real "gifts" are. For some people that may be a true sense of creativity ,the expression of which gives them indescribable joy. For others it may be gifts of healing, of counselling, of invention, of "feeling outside the box". While the rational mind worries about survival, the intuitive mind just enjoys thriving. What a shame to be working so hard to survive that you never take the time out to thrive.

I think it might be time to bring our rational minds, as a  collective society in check.  I think it's time to consider if we have let the threat of survival run so far that we've lost the concept of what we really need. I'm not suggesting we throw out our conveniences and entertainment- not at all. I'm just suggesting it might be time to consider whether or not we are so busy honoring the servant inside that we have forgotten to go out and play.

Maybe it's time for some Scleranthus and mittens and some "me time"!!

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