Learn about a mega-trend in society and economy that is shaping our future. Also learn how Sharing Nature training prepares you for that future.
A “Seismic Shift”
It is well-known that each side of the human brain, the left and the right hemisphere, has a functional specialisation. However, it’s more complex and nuanced than “reason is in the left and emotion is in the right.” Scientists dislike oversimplification and often voice their concern. As a result, many people have stopped talking about brain lateralisation.
The following is a simple and succinct introduction suggested by a researcher.
“Our brains are designed to pay both kinds of attention, left-brain dominant and right-brain dominant. The kind of attention we pay to the world governs what we find there. We are always using both sides of the brain constantly juggling between the two versions of the world.”
The left hemisphere world is a bureaucrat’s dream. It is detached, rational, acquisitive, conceptual, literal, straight-laced, abstract, verbal, analytic. Subscribes to scientific materialism and its raison d’être is to narrow things down to a certainty. The left is not good at understanding the world. Its attention is narrow, its vision myopic, and it can’t see how the parts fit together. It is good for only one thing — manipulating the world. The left hemisphere has an affinity for what is mechanical and its values are those of utility and pleasure.
The right hemisphere world is a bureaucrat’s nightmare. It’s a living web, constantly changing, engaged, empathetic, receptive, intuitive, metaphorical, humorous, particular, musical, holistic. Its raison d’être is to open things up into possibility. The right hemisphere primarily lets us be aware of the world, and looks for the connections, or the “between-ness” everywhere. It sees interconnected, living, embodied entities. It is at ease with ambiguity and the idea that opposites may be compatible. It has an affinity for whatever is living and is concerned with meaning, purpose and happiness.
From Left to Right
In his deeply insightful book “The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World”, Iain McGilchrist argues that the left-brain thinking has shaped the industrial civilisation and much of the modern world including our education system.
In a New York Times bestselling book “A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future” Daniel Pink argues the same. American society, he says, “has been dominated by left-brain thought – a form of thinking and an approach to life that is narrowly reductive and deeply analytical. “
In the 21st century, however, Pink sees the emergence of right brain thinking. He argues that a life of material abundance in the western world is seeing more and more people yearning for the non-material. This is reflected in the mainstream embrace of yoga and meditation to the rise of spirituality and evangelical themes in books and movies.
Ronald Inglehart, a respected political scientist at the University of Michigan believes that the advanced world is in the midst of a slow change in its operating principles, “a gradual shift from ‘Materialist’ values (emphasizing economic and physical security above all) toward ‘Postmaterialist’ priorities (emphasizing self-expression and the quality of life).”
Gregg Easterbrook, an American journalist who has written insightfully on this topic, puts it more boldly: “A transition from material want to meaning want is in progress on an historically unprecedented scale—involving hundreds of millions of people—and may eventually be recognized as the principal cultural development of our age.”
Daniel Pink sees the business world affected by this shift as well. For businesses, he says mere functionality of a product is no longer sufficient. “It must also be beautiful, unique, and meaningful, abiding… the aesthetic imperative.” Pink cites a recent survey, according to which 58 percent of Americans say they think often about the meaning and purpose of life.” These are all right-brain qualities.
“We are moving from an economy and a society built on the logical, linear, computer-like capabilities (left-brain attributes) of the Information Age to a society built on the inventive, empathic, big-picture (right-brain) capabilities of what’s rising in its place, the Conceptual Age.”
There are six essential right brain attributes that Daniel Pink describes “on which professional success and personal satisfaction increasingly will depend”: Design, story, symphony, empathy, play, and meaning. At a time when top corporates are hiring MFAs along with the MBAs when IQ tests are giving way to tests for EQ – Pink calls this trend a seismic shift.
Daniel Pink says the new age requires a “capacity to detect patterns and opportunities, to create artistic and emotional beauty, to craft a satisfying narrative, and to combine seemingly unrelated ideas into something new.” Also the “ability to empathize with others, to understand the subtleties of human interaction, to find joy in one’s self and to elicit it in others, and to stretch beyond the quotidian in pursuit of purpose and meaning.”
“The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind—creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers. These people—artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers—will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.”
It’s important to note, however, that Pink’s future society isn’t ruled by right-brain thinking types. He says these attributes are required in addition to left-brain thinking that presently dominates our world.
Sharing Nature & The Shift
Sharing Nature workshops involve hands-on activities that lead to engaging emotional experiences in Nature. Since there is no “study” of nature involved nor is there any emphasis on learning facts, both of which would require a participant to use left brain to process these inputs. What is emphasized is one’s direct and uplifted experience. Sharing Nature is almost entirely focused on right brain learning as it enhances imagination, collaboration, a deep connection with Nature and promotes a care of all that is living.
See also: The importance of emotions in learning