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Copyright 2001 Realization.org.

 

 
 
  TECHNIQUE
 

An Exercise For Reducing Visual Hemispheric Dominance

Yogis do breathing exercises to make the nervous system function symmetrically. Here's a similar exercise that uses vision.

By FREDDIE YAM

 

YOGIS HAVE BEEN fooling around with hemispheric dominance for centuries. This article shows a cool new exercise for reducing it which I found recently on the website of Dr. Tom J. Chalko. I find that this exercise helps induce an interesting meditative state of mind.

Background

The two halves of our brains cooperate by agreeing that one of them will be in charge. On many jobs they take turns being the boss, handing the responsibility back and forth between themselves every few seconds, minutes, or hours. This is called hemispheric dominance.

You can easily observe this by noticing which nostril is open. Most of the time, one nostril breathes freely while the other is partly constricted inside. They typically alternate every ninety minutes or so as the brain hemispheres switch dominance for this function. If you pay careful attention to this process, you may discover that your state of mind and mood vary according to which side is breathing more freely. Yogis have developed exercises to keep the left nostril open because the mind usually seems more sattvic -- more calm and insightful -- when the left nostril's hemisphere is calling the shots.

Yogis have also developed techniques for keeping both nostrils open simultaneously because they believe this helps channel energy into the the central channel of the nervous system, the sushumna, from the lateral channels that run on the left and right sides of it. Physiologically, this probably means the hemispheres are sharing responsibility equally instead of taking turns being the boss. In other words, these techniques probably reduce hemispheric dominance with regard to the nasal passages.

Vision is another area where hemispheric dominance occurs. The following exercise allows you to observe this process and control it.

 

The Exercise


 

 

As you look at this illustration, cross your eyes so you see a third circle between the blue and red one. When you get your eyes focused right, the middle circle will seem to have a cross on it.

The farther back you sit, the less eyestrain you'll feel. I sit at least three feet back.

Watch the cross on the third circle. Every few seconds, it will change from a horizontal line to a vertical line and back. This is because the hemispheres of your brain are alternating in dominance for this activity. When the right hemisphere is dominant you see the blue circle and vertical line on top; when the left hemisphere is dominant, the red circle and horizontal line are on top.

Now you're ready for the actual yoga. Look at the illustration again, but this time, try to make the cross on the middle circle steady. You want a pure cross, not a horizontal or vertical line. Practice every day until you can do it for 45 minutes straight. I think you'll find the resulting state of mind quite interesting.

Eliminating Eyestrain

Some people are bothered by eyestrain when they do this exercise, even if they sit far back from the screen. Here's an alternate method that completely eliminates strain.

Look at a distant object through two toilet paper tubes (as if they are binoculars) while holding a finger over the far end of each tube so your fingers make a cross in your field of vision.

Copyright 2000 Freddie Yam


Freddie Yam writes frequently for Realization.org.


 BY THE SAME AUTHOR 

 


The Day My Kundalini Woke Up
Turning Blue: Natural Pranayama
Exercise for Reducing Visual Hemispheric Dominance
What I've Learned From Meditation




 FURTHER READING  

 


How To Read and See the Aura
By Dr. Tom J. Chalko, M.Sc., Ph.D.
This is the website where we learned about this exercise.


Elements of Meditation
by
Swami Nirgunananda Giri
This article contains an interesting section about Svara Yoga by Dr. Jacques Vigne (section V, about halfway down). It is a physiological fact that normally only one nostril is fully open at a time, and the nostrils alternate during wakefulness every two or three hours. Svara Yoga allows the practitioner to become aware of this asymmetry and control it. This is supposed to help the practitioner raise energy (kundalini) in the central channel (sushumna). Dr. Vigne gives practical instructions as well as some references to scientific and yogic literature.


This page was published on February 3, 2000 and
last revised on August 9, 2001.


Copyright 2001 Realization.org. All rights reserved.