Research shows mindfulness works. It can help you be happier and help you reduce stress. Understanding the neuroscience behind the left and right sides of your brain will help you reach greater mindfulness.

The right side of your brain sees things pretty concretely. Oppositely, your left side weaves tales to try and make sense of the information coming in.

We need the left side of our brains to give meaning to life. The left side interprets experiences. However, the left side of our brain can sometimes be misleading, according to science.

Michael Gazzaniga, one of the top cognitive neuroscientists, did some brain studies in the 1970’s with Roger Sperry (who would later win the Nobel Prize.) Gazzaniga discovered what the left side’s job is —

From The Neurotic’s Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment:

“Gazzaniga discovered that the left side of the brain created explanations and reasons to help make sense about what was going on. It acted as an interpreter to reality… Over the last 30 years, several studies have shown that the left side of the brain, even in normal people, excels at creating an explanation for what’s going on, even if it isn’t correct.”

The left side of your brain does not have perfect information. This is part of you — and you are fallible.

This is where mindfulness comes in…

From a neuroscience perspective, mindfulness is about staying focused on the concrete in life and not getting too wrapped up in interpretations, categories, stories — and occasional fictions.

From The Neurotic’s Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment:

“Most live their lives as the interpreter, they are the interpreter, and the mind is a master they are not even aware of. They are angry, offended, happy or fearful and do not question the authenticity of these thoughts and experiences. The left-brain interpreter is always on and cannot be shut off but once it is recognized, things begin to change…”

So how do we reach greater mindfulness?

  • Listen to your brain as you go about your day and check what you hear against the concrete facts you notice.
  • Pause, and consider opinions as if it was advice from a friend. Check it against the hard facts you can see.

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