Which brain listens? Right or left?

Some of the literature on right and left brain suggest that while the left brain processes things serially, the right processes things as a whole.

Looked interesting and also convincing, but for quiet sometime I could not really figure out what it really meant.

But then I had this interesting experience that simply but in a profound way showed me this. As is my usual practice, I was listening to a talk as I was driving home yesterday. Though it was the second time I was listening to it, I was listening intendly. Suddenly there came a moment of laughter, where the speaker explained a point with a joke. As I burst out laughing, suddenly I became aware of the surroundings; and where I was at that point. But what was also interesting was that I remembered exactly the location where I listened to the same joke earlier. I rather remembered it like a picture.

I was amused and when I shared this incident with a friend, he too agreed to have had similar experiences. I think this is what happened: When I was listening to the talk, it was my left brain who was ‘listening’ (predominantly) making sense of what is heard in an incremental way. But when the moment the joke came, suddenly the right brain kicked in and the whole thing including the surroundings is perceived as one shot.

I think the reason why the shift to right brain was so visible, is that a joke is not serially processed, mostly you laugh at a whole joke. So you wait till a joke is complete without logically processing it and when it is done, the whole thing is just processed in one shot as a whole.

And I think this is the essence of mindfulness…


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