Using Both Wings to Fly

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I was speaking with a coaching client (let’s call him Gary) this week who was really finding value from our conversations – but struggling to ‘let go’ of his beliefs about the kind of person he is.  (See my last musing:  What’s the Story?)

birds sky

Gary’s disconnect, specifically, was that he felt he couldn’t trust his own wisdom or intuition, when his whole life has been about the logical, the rational, the analytical – the intellectual part of the brain.  “That’s just who I am” he said.

I had the image of a bird trying to fly with only one wing – and going round in circles a lot of the time!

We have all been gifted with a body, a brain and that biggest mystery of all – consciousness.

We’ve known for years that we have access to several different kinds of intelligence – the academics are still arguing about how many, and what to call them!

But let’s just take two major aspects: what Einstein was speaking about in his quote:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant.  We have created a society that honours the servant, and has forgotten the gift”

Both are valuable.  Both are great at doing what they’ve been designed to do.  But they’re not that good at doing what they’re not designed to do.

To use an analogy, the human heart pumps blood around our body.  That’s what it does.  It doesn’t digest the food we eat, or notice what colour your beloved’s eyes are.

His whole life, Gary has been trying to use his logical – analytical intelligence to do everything:

  • make big decisions about what to do with the rest of his life
  • think his way out of his regular bouts of depression
  • live a life that’s more full of joy and wonder

and he is finding that it doesn’t work very well.  It’s like trying to use a hammer to saw down a tree –  you could probably eventually bring the tree down by putting massive amounts of work, time and energy in and using the claw end – but it’s just not been designed to get that result.

It’s not only about efficiency, though.

It’s about accessing the well of infinite new, fresh thought – those ideas that seem to just bubble up inside you, or come out of the blue – when you’re not actively thinking about it.

Ask most people where they get their best ideas and they’ll say:  in the shower, when driving, when walking in nature, listening to music, relaxing – anywhere where they don’t have much on their mind.

In other words, it’s about trying LESS rather than trying harder.  Allowing the innate capacity for insight to come through you.

Insights don’t happen in the logical analytical brain.

Some fascinating research at Northwestern University studies what’s happening in the brain in the seconds before an insight occurs:

“……we observed objective neural correlates of insight: fMRI revealed increased activity in the right hemisphere anterior Superior Temporal Gyrus for insight relative to non-insight solutions. In addition, EEG revealed a sudden burst of high-frequency (gamma-band) neural activity in the same area beginning about a third of a second prior to insight solutions….”

So, there are (at least) two ways to go about solving problems, making decisions and living your life.

Some situations lend themselves to methodical, logical and analytical strategies.

What I’m finding more and more is that I can also rely on my wisdom, on fresh sudden insights, where the solution, or next step, just bubbles up into consciousness.  This seems to require a different mental state – relaxed, calm, clear, a lack of urgency, and that wonderful sense of well-being.
We need both wings to fly.

And it might also matter to you where you want to fly to.

Insight can take us to whole new worlds.

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One thought on “Using Both Wings to Fly

  1. Chris says:

    I am Sparticus!

    I love your analogies and the Einstein quote and kinda get what you mean but my second wing just doesn’t want to play! Or, maybe my logical mind is gladiatorialy quashing any insights that are too scary…

    I love the post, very thought provoking.