TWO WAYS OF KNOWING

By Gregory Mitchell

The mind that does the thinking has to interact with the body and control it. The body is controlled via two brain centers. Let us consider a right handed person, and make the necessary adjustments in terms of left handed people. A person's right hand controls fine detailed movement, such as writing, adjusting mechanisms, controlling tools, or doing anything, which requires sequential action as such. Whereas the left hand establishes an anchor point or reference point. It may hold on to something that we are working on, so there is a relative motion between the left hand, or reference point, and the right, so the action is grounded in reality. This is an analogy for the two modes of perceiving: the way of the left and the way of the right.

The way of perceiving which is educated most in this culture, goes with the right hand - the left hand having been called the kack hand or the sinister hand. So two modes of knowing, two modes of perceiving the world and to deal with the material of this world exist. One is potential, the other one manifest - which in most people is the right hand side which corresponds to the left brain. You might say that the left brain is the chalk and the right brain the blackboard, when both sides of the brain are working together.

Functional Differences
If we contrast these two sides, the left side is linear, it can only deal with one thing at a time. It forgets rather rapidly, and a person who is learning in that mode may be called a 'stringer' - he will have to learn one thing very carefully, then the next and then the next. A person almost totally unable to take an overview was described by Luria, the great Russian neurologist. He describes this in his book 'Man with a Shattered World'. He talks of a soldier who received a bullet wound through the head, and the bullet damaged severely the right side of the brain, yet the man survived, but with very strange experiences. For example, while eating soup, when he concentrated on the soup the spoon disappeared; when he concentrated on the spoon, the soup disappeared; and when he concentrated on the flavor, the whole room disappeared. The left hemisphere is organized to deal with one detail at a time, whereas the right side deals with many details and provides the context. This is necessary too, otherwise the creation and perception of music would not be possible.

The left hemisphere can only deal with one note at a time, whereas the right hemisphere looks at the overall context: that which has gone before, the immediate history of that piece of music, and the anticipation of what will happen as the music unfolds. A person without a right hemisphere could tune a guitar against a pitch pipe; he may be able to play the odd note if it is written down on a bit of paper, and in a very artificial way play some very simple tunes, but this would be done at a robotic level. Whereas with the other side of the brain, a person may easily translate intention into action, at the non-verbal level. Both types of consciousness are necessary, in most activities.

Both in children and primitive people, the degree of differentiation between the two sides of the brain is slight. So both sides are doing something like the same work; the difference is a matter of degree. And according to the German Philosopher Ernst Cassirer, many primitive people are unable to tell a lie, because this requires standing outside of oneself, to have an abstract perspective, so one can have feelings about one's thoughts or thoughts about one's feelings. A person with specialized hemispheres is able to have an abstract perspective, so lying is something he can do easily.

You may say, well why tell a lie? When we write a story or invent something, initially we are telling a lie. We are creating a pretend universe. The classic form of this way of thinking would be, for example, 'were I to do so-and-so, if that, then that'. So we have one side of the brain which is capable of inventing, and the other which is trying to recreate reality. Both sides draw on much more primitive structures, such as the limbic system, which produces the imagery, much in the way of a video recorder, but in a different manner. The left side can isolate out a detail, which is a useful skill, so long as this skill does not become compulsive, whereas the right side is unable to deal with details; it looks at the general plan.

A person who is right brain dominant has a totally different learning style. When they are learning a subject, they will read every book in the library about it, and read everything else, talk to everybody and then, only gradually will a picture of what they are learning emerge out of the mist for them. You may say that one side of the brain is concerned with plan and the other with putting it into action. No single side of the brain, operating in isolation, is right. Full consciousness arises from an integration of the two sets of mental processes, which involve a cooperative or collaborative relationship between the two sides of the brain.

Experiential Differences
According to depth psychologists such as Arthur Janov and Matte Blanco, we may retreat into left brain modes of perceiving and acting, in which mode our emotions are memory, rather than what is being directly experienced, because the traumatic material is being stored in the right side of the brain in such a way that it is inaccessible. By splitting the storage of the memory in this way, we have a verbal description of the events that we can access, but we are unable to experience the pain and emotions of the memory.

Another person, who is in the right brain mode, may well have pain, emotion and effort visible; however, he is unable to access the intentions, decisions, conclusions and other verbally and conceptually stored material in the left, as this side of the brain is suppressed below the boundaries of consciousness. For example, when a person is in an extreme emotion, such as love, rage or grief, the words to express this do not come easily or they may not come at all.

Perceptual Differences
There are differences in the visual imagery between a left brain dominant person and a right brain dominant person. Left brain imagery tends to be small, and it is experienced as if it is inside the head, and it moves with you, whereas the imagery of a right brain nature, due to some peculiar arrangement of the balance, is such that if you turn your head, the imagery will tend to move, as though you were seeing something in the real world. If you moved your head to the left, the imagery would appear to move to your right.

For example, I can imagine with my eyes closed a chair that I am pointing at, and as I move my head, it will remain where my finger is pointing. The left brain imagery will tend to move with me, as I move around. So one sort of imagery can be described as grounded, whereas the other is ungrounded.

In perception, the right side of the brain is concerned with the spaces enclosed by objects. For example, I am looking at some plants that are in front of me, and I can see the various spaces exist between the leaves. This creates another set of shapes beyond the conventional. The left side would tend to see the thing itself, the figure rather than the ground. Likewise, I have done some experiments with some playing cards. The hearts and the diamonds were black, and the clubs and spades were red. When these cards were given to people who were left brain dominant, they actually experienced visible disturbance when they were trying to play with these cards, because it interfered with what is called conventional perception. Right brained persons have no difficulty playing with these types of cards.

Integration of the Two Sides
True higher creative thought arises from an integration of the two sides of the brain. Einstein said, "I will do a flight of fantasy and work on some thinking, which is not thinking as you would understand it, but a combinatorial play of some types of imageries and sensory feelings. Only when this activity comes to some resolution, would I fumble in the other side of my head for words and for algebraic statements, which would permit me to communicate these insights to others". True thinking, which stands behind our conscious thinking, is non-verbal. A person, who is right brain dominant, when both sides are cooperating, uses words as his servants, whereas a person who is left brain dominated, frequently tends to be governed by words, belief systems and symbol systems, often to the exclusion of external reality.

Diagnosis
Some work has been done with a device, similar to a Psycho-Galvanometer, in one of the London hospitals in 1985. The meter was used as a diagnostic device, to find the discrepancies between what we would call the left hand measure of body resistance and the right hand measure. These differences have been found to represent particular clinical types. The Manic type has a significantly lower resistance on the left hand - the right brain is more highly aroused; and the Schizoid/Schizophrenic type has a much lower resistance on the right hand - the left brain is more highly aroused. This indicates either functional imbalance between the two sides, as a consequence of early traumatization or actual organic damage, resulting from illness or accident. In either case, when there is a discrepancy of magnitude between the electrical resistance of the left hand and the electrical resistance of the right, you will find an underlying problem.

Summary
The right half of the brain controls the left side of the body, and the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. Often people can be described as left brain dominant or right brain dominant: for example, artists tend to be right-brained, and mathematicians left-brained. The most able people, however, can easily switch from one type of thinking to the other, as their situation demands. A large part of Mind Development is directed at helping students to gain ability in both styles of thinking. If you examine a drawing of the brain, you will see it is divided into two sides. In the last two decades, research has clearly shown that each side of the brain has a unique set of mental abilities, or styles of thinking. These are shown in the table following.

The Two Hemispheres

Left Right
VerbalNon-verbal
Linear logicParallel Processing, intuitive
Convergent, attention to detailDivergent, ignores detail
Solves ProblemsPerceives & poses problems
Invented universesObserved universes
Deals with timeHas only present time
Verbal and conceptual memoryEidetic recall (visual images)
Short term memory & memory for namesLong term memory, recognition & recall of faces
Algebra & SymbolsSemi-simple arithmetic
Introvert = PhlegmaticIntrovert = Melancholic
Extravert = SanguineExtravert = Choleric
Can handle arbitrary symbols, such as a phonetic alphabet, where the symbols do
not have intrinsic qualities of the thing symbolized
Can only handle symbols where they share some identity with the thing symbolized, e.g. traffic signs or simple Chinese characters, as they are a type of drawing
Responsible for forming consonantsResponsible for forming vowels
Motor control of tongueMotor control of lips, vocal chords, etc.
This side controls speakingThis side controls singing

Note: It is unlikely that you would find a person that was totally left-brain dominant or totally right, outside of an institution. Such a person would find it impossible to survive. Most people, however, will have an imbalance, in one direction or the other, usually to the left. In many cases, a person would benefit through a job or an activity that would place some stress on the under-used side of the brain.

Mind Development has been scientifically designed to place increasing stress, in incremental stages, on the under-used side of a student's brain, so at the end of the first five or six courses he will be able to switch from one type of thinking to the other, when he desires, assuming he is of normal mental and physical health. Because he gains this new ability, he finds that he is able to stand outside of his present mode of thinking; he can let go of many aspects of his former-self and stand outside of his thinking processes, and view these from an objective perspective.

The Bilateral Psycho-Galvanometer
The simple psycho-galvanometer was one of the earliest tools of psychological research. A psycho-galvanometer measures the resistance of the skin to the passage of a very small electric current. It has been known for decades that the magnitude of this electrical resistance is affected, not only by the subject’s general mood, but also by immediate emotional reactions. Several researchers have noticed that one side of the body gives different responses to the other. The point of using a Bilateral Psycho-Galvanometer, as invented by Gregory Mitchell and utilized throughout the research of Mind Development, is to monitor the differential arousal of the two hemispheres of the cortex.

If one takes into account that the left hemisphere of the cortex usually controls speech, logical action and symbolic functions, while the right hemisphere is responsible for spatial and holistic processes, there is value in having a simple device to facilitate cognitive growth through the technique of real-time, instantaneous biofeedback monitoring with the Bilateral Psycho-Galvanometer. A full instruction manual for application of the Bilateral Psycho-Galvanometer is available for download here. Unfortunately there is no current manufacturer of the Bilateral Psycho-Galvanometer; in the meantime there is a great deal of understanding to be gained by learning about this technique.

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MIND DEVELOPMENT COURSES 1-8
Study skills
Super Student - Mind Development Course 1

Many people have bad experiences at school and perhaps later in life, when attempting to study a new subject. It is easy to quickly get bogged down with new terminology, and often, new concepts and procedures seem unclear. This situation can quickly get out of hand as the student gets left behind and the subject either becomes an ongoing struggle or it is abandoned. But none of that is necessary; it is possible to succeed with the study of any subject.

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Perception
Super Vision - Mind Development Course 2
The first course in the Mind Development system is "Super Vision," a home-study course to improve the mind's capacity for visualization and integration between left and right brain, boosting memory, creativity, natural eyesight and drawing ability. This is a new way of seeing - and being.

The practical exercises offered in this course help to develop visual perception, which is one branch of non-verbal communication, and address the subject of breathing and relaxation. Adequate oxygenation of the brain and a relaxed state of being is necessary for further developing the mind.

The eyes and the ears are the main channels through which one gains information about the world. As with listening skills, training in visualization and looking makes you more aware. When you are more aware, the subconscious mind has less influence. This means you are more relaxed, less anxious, less easily upset, a better memorizer - and your vision is improved.

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Communication
Effective Communication - Mind Development Course 3
This course teaches powerful communication skills that enable you to be more effective at work and in those situations of everyday life where better communication can make all the difference.

The Effective Communication course offers a series of practical exercises which develop the skills of communication and help the student to apply the fruits of his or her learning here and now - both to his or her personal growth and to the practical issues of personal relationships and business.

Improvement in our ability to communicate externally is reflected by a similar gain in communication between parts of the brain. The practice exercises enable development of all areas of the brain, even those which have been long under-used. They affect, particularly, the integration of the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Each hemisphere governs a different way of thinking and seeing the world. By doing the exercises thoroughly, the student can bring both halves of the brain into mutual communication, so that he or she is freer to think holistically and experience the world from an expanded point of view.

Communication is the vehicle for all further techniques, so communications skills are a vital aspect of Mind Development. The Effective Communication course includes practical exercises to enhance the person's capacity to listen attentively and comprehend. Following that, questioning skills are practiced, which have relevance to communication, memory and understanding. This will help the student to maintain control of communication in practical, social and business situations. You will also learn about practical problem solving and how to achieve your goals in life.

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Concentration
Educating the Will - Mind Development Course 4
This course teaches the skills of concentration as a means of educating the will. Often, when we put our mind on something, we think of something else and this, in turn, reminds us of something else. The mind wanders from one thing to another by associations, until the original thing is forgotten. 'Concentration' means putting all one's attention on something, and keeping it there for as long as one wishes to. So if you concentrate on a book, you are aware of the book and you are not thinking, looking or listening to anything else. If you are concentrating you are awake and aware. In much of everyday life, most people are effectively day-dreaming - at worst they are sleep-walking automatons. Their minds flip mechanically from one thing to another, never resting on anything for very long or intentionally. This process may go on for the whole of their lives and they never learn or achieve anything of consequence.

Unless we can wake ourselves up from this mechanicalness and sleep, we cannot begin work on ourselves and we cannot get things done in life. We must learn the mood of concentration - of actually BEING in the Here-and-Now, noticing and observing, and focused on our actions.

Concentration is a means to develop the will, so that life may be lived purposely and creatively, rather than as a reaction to the flow of sensations. Because you will not flit from one thing to another, like a butterfly, you will be able to choose to focus your mind on things, e.g., study or work, and will increase your skills and knowledge in these areas. Most importantly, you will be able to focus more clearly on your vision of what you want to achieve.

In short, your mental life is both intensified and broadened. The ability to concentrate is, therefore, a valuable skill which will enhance all other skills. Almost all the drills and exercises of Mind Development help develop your ability to concentrate. But are there are ways to improve your concentration directly? Yes, and this course teaches the best of them.

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Reading skills
Power Reading - Mind Development Course 5
This home study course can double your reading speed and supercharge your brain's capacity to digest, remember and implement huge amounts of information... essential ingredients to success in your professional and personal life.

We all learn to read at school, after a fashion. But for most of us, this is not an optimal use of our brain power. In this course you will learn to better use the left brain's focused attention combined with the right brain's peripheral attention, in close harmony. Good communication between the brain hemispheres is a prerequisite for creative thinking and also a sense of well-being, where thoughts and feelings are integrated.

Reading may be defined as an individual's total inter-relationship with symbolic information. Reading is a communication process requiring a series of skills. As such reading is a thinking process rather than an exercise in eye movements. Effective reading requires a logical sequence of thought patterns, and these patterns require practice to set them into the mind. The methods currently used in schools do not touch on the issues of speed, comprehension and critical analysis and indeed all those skills which can be described as advanced reading techniques. In short, most of your reading problems have not been dealt with during your initial education. By using appropriate techniques, the limitations of early education can be overcome and reading ability improved by 500% or more.

The course teaches in-depth reading techniques that greatly improve literary intelligence, so that you can clearly perceive the ideas and values that the writer is expressing and relate them to those of other authors and so be better able to make objective conclusions.

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Memory skills
Creative Memory - Mind Development Course 6
In most civilized societies the development of language centers in the left hemisphere of the brain will produce dominance on that side, while spatial, visual and intuitive problem-solving skills, which are based on right-hemisphere relational processes, will be underdeveloped.

Though a highly developed memory and intuitive skills are not essential for life in modern society, they were important survival skills for primitive man who had no reference books to look up when he forgot something, no maps to guide him on long journeys, and was often in perilous situations where intuitive insight made the difference between life and death. To further evolve, we need to reclaim this heritage, which depends on the restoration and integration of our right-brain processes.

Without memory there is no knowledge, without knowledge there is no certainty and without certainty there is no will. We need a good memory to be able to orient ourselves in a rich network of all that we know and understand, to make sense of it and to move forward to attain goals that are based in reality and true to our selves.

You will learn advanced memory techniques in the Creative Memory Course that utilize the amazing powers of the right brain, which enable you to "file away" any new piece of information so that it is readily accessible for future immediate access.

As you continue to use the methods of cumulative perception taught in this course, this kind of random access memory begins to become second nature. Many memory experts call this the "soft breakthrough" because it happens almost imperceptibly at first, instead of hitting you like a mental bolt of lightning. Everything you find important is given its own unique mental file. Just like the executive whose desk has been buried in paper for years, who suddenly discovers his computer can do a much better job of storing and arranging information, a filed, organized mind suddenly begins to perform impressive recall tasks on demand.

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Sprinting
Zen & the Art of Sprinting - Mind Development Course 7
This course by Gregory Mitchell is on the periphery of Mind Development but nonetheless illustrates how closely mind and body function in co-ordination.

Using these techniques Gregory was able to run 100 meters in a time that nearly matched the then British champion, with relatively little physical fitness preparation (60% or less compared with a typical athlete). You may not personally want to increase your sprinting speed, but the principles described here have many applications both for physical and mental development.

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No-Mind
Zen & the Art of Calculation - Mind Development Course 8
The Goal of Zen is the state of 'No-Mind'. This is an intuitive way of dealing with the world. The aim of this course is to enable a student to turn on a particular form of 'No-Mind' consciousness that can be applied to a practical task - that of arithmetical calculation. Habitual responses are set up which are the inverse of linearity. Several parts of the calculation have to be handled simultaneously; the result will be obtained about five times as fast, so it appears to be instantaneous.

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