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Archive for March, 2010

I mentioned in my last post that often during an alternate handwriting session we’re seeking help for a situation that’s causing us pain or stress. In early January of this year, I decided to start writing every day, not just when I was upset or looking for guidance on something specific. The results have been breathtaking.

I often describe AH as the only form of meditation that leaves you with a written record. It is a very meditative practice. Once you’re writing, everything else sort of slides away. Unlike traditional meditation, your brain isn’t quieted. You don’t go blank: you go deep.

That’s not to say you’re not soothed by this practice, because it’s definitely soothing. And I’m not advocating giving up other forms of meditation. But if, like me, you’ve been frustrated with traditional meditation techniques, unable to quiet the inner chatter, try this one. It enables you to chat away with the deep inner part of yourself, the source of so much generosity. Compassion, humor, creativity, memory, emotions, intuition, timelessness… All those are found in the brain’s right hemisphere.

Jill Bolte Taylor, author of My Stroke of Insight, put it beautifully: “I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner-peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be.”

For the life of me I can’t figure out why it took me so long to make this a daily practice. I tell people it’s like putting on a warm bathrobe. It gives that feeling of comfort, of slowing down, of being home. When you feel like that, you do project it into the world. And the world is better for it.

My alternate hand recently wrote, savor these feelings so more will come. I do, and they have.

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Glimmers

I got an email from a student who attended a recent alternate handwriting class. I love it because it reaffirms the point I made in “Iceberg Tips” (posted 1.27.10) about the “other voice” that come through with this writing. And she described it so beautifully:

“It definitely has a different quality of feeling though I’m not sure how to describe how it is different, just that it is. The thoughts come into your head when you’re alternating the handwriting, but they have a different energy/force to them. Of course believing them and writing them down even when your left brain is telling you this is nuts is just another hurdle, but once you’ve seen the benefits just once, even if it’s just a glimmer, it’s really hard to stop.”

As the author Jane Langton once told me, that’s the sort of letter a person likes to find in her in box. (If you want to know more about Jane and her wonderful book, The Diamond in the Window, check out ‘Dear Ms. Langton’ in the stories link at my website, www.BettyRogers.com).

Reading my student’s description of the energy/force was wonderful, and my heart leapt when she wrote “it’s really hard to stop.” That’s something I stress when I teach classes or work with clients: keep listening. It took me a long time to figure this out.

Often during an AH session we’re dealing with a situation that’s causing us pain or stress. Our compassionate right brain inevitably soothes us, helping us see and feel things from a different angle. There are many examples of this in the blogs I’ve posted and I’m positive there will be many more to come.

What it took me a while to understand is that receiving a soothing response isn’t always all that AH has to tell us. If we just sit with the silence for a moment, it’s possible that the ‘conversation’ will continue. Sometimes on an entirely different topic.

Just remember that this is a passive, listening practice. If you feel ready to stop, stop. If you’re not sure, leave your pen or pencil in your alternate hand and listen carefully. If something comes into your head, write it down and watch where it takes you.

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A friend in Canada asked me to try to lead her through an alternate handwriting session over the phone. Shelley was fascinated with the concept and desperate to try it. But her life is extremely busy and she gets very little time alone. She’d managed to carve out some space. Not at all sure this would work, I agreed to give it a try.

She knew exactly what she wanted to write about. She’s a physical anthropologist, and has felt herself being pulled to go back to school. But she wasn’t sure what she wanted to study or where. I suggested that the “what” be her first question. Here’s what followed:

Dominant Hand: What do you like to study?

Alternate Hand: Mummies

DH: What else?

AH: Bones

DH: Anything else?

AH: Bio-Psychology

At this point Shelley stopped and told me about a wonderful professor who’d taught an Evolutionary Biology class. This is the study of organisms, such as why some female fish turn into males. She said she “loves exploring nature’s surprises.” Then she wrote again:

DH: Why do I like to study these?

AH: Intriguing!

Shelley stopped writing again and said her professor had told her that some day she would discover something important. She said that evolutionary biology was nothing like anthropology and much more interesting to her. For instance, did I know that a ½ degree difference in the temperature of the nest determines whether an alligator will be male or female? Her voice was full of enthusiasm. I freely admitted that I knew nothing about the sex of alligators.

Shelley said she hadn’t told the story about her professor in a long time. She continued to talk about her love of this branch of science. During most of our nearly-two-hour phone call, Shelley talked. This has happened before during personal sessions. Occasionally, a client will use their alternate hand to write their name and how that writing made them feel, then launch into a monologue. The topic is always of deep significance to them, and they end their session with new insights. As Shelley put it, “This is opening up boxes I hadn’t thought about.”

My theory about this is that sometimes, writing even briefly with our alternate hand is enough to fire the synapses between the right and left hemispheres. Once the connection is made, the left brain, which holds written language, becomes less engaged and the intuitive, non-judgmental right brain becomes more so. A different kind of alternate experience.

A few days after our phone call Shelley wrote in an email, “I realized after our session that my verbal vocabulary improved while you and I were talking. This is significant to me because I often find it difficult to find the word I want when describing something verbally. I did not have that problem when you and I were talking.”

She went on, “What I think I might do is try an experiment and write my name [with her alternate hand] before I am to have a meeting where I know I will be asked to speak up. (I might even do it on a paper in front of me at the meeting.) This verbal expression thing has had me rather handicapped for a while now and I don’t like it. So, I will make an effort to improve it and IF I can do that by letting both sides of my brain communicate by simply writing a bit with my less-dominant hand, then I will!

“Once I test it, I’ll let you know how it goes!! I’m excited!”

Stand by for test results.

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