By Dianne Trussell, BSc Hons, Goonellabah, NSW
It is possible to tune in to a particular part of the body to find out what is going on there and what is needed. Science confirms that all the cells of our body communicate with each other in various ways, and we can consciously access those messages.
I had a most striking experience of this while preparing for shoulder surgery late last year. I knew this would render my right (dominant) arm unusable in a sling for a couple of months and relatively useless for a couple more. Thus two weeks before the surgery I began training my left hand to clean my teeth, so that at least there would be something I could do for my own hygiene while in a sling. At first it was like trying to poke holes in my own face, as you can imagine! But it did improve and in 2 weeks I could do a fair job of tooth cleaning with my left hand. This is all very normal and expected – that one can, with time and repetition, train a part of the brain to co-ordinate an activity and muscles to carry it out when they are not used to doing it.
However something else happened in this left hand training story, which was quite a myth-busting surprise to me. One morning before the surgery I was lying on a mat doing my yoga, and there’s a move consisting of gently rotating my arms outwards until my palms face up, then back in again until my palms face down. I found that at a certain point in the rotation, my left hand moved in a series of little jerks, while my right produced a smooth movement. Makes sense – the left is not as ‘trained’ to make such fine movements as the right, right? When my right was going to be in a sling I wanted my left hand and arm to be able to do all the jobs the right normally did. In ‘neuroscience belief mode’, I thought it would be just a matter of ‘training’, i.e. doing the same move repeatedly every day. But that made no difference to the jerkiness. None! So what was going on there?
Then I had the inspiration to ‘ask’ my left arm what the problem was. And immediately got the answer: that I was expecting my left arm to be able to move in the same way as my right and it was trying to oblige, which it could not do. “OK, left arm, here’s what we’ll do…” This sounds hilarious, I know, however you could try talking to your own body sometime… very illuminating! I gave my left arm permission to do the move its own way, infinitely slowly, and claim or consolidate each successful increment without jerking before moving on. When I say slow, I mean SLOW. It felt lovely – a very deep, still connection with my body.
But here’s the cool and surprising bit. Just 24 hours later, ALL the unaccustomed movements I made with my left arm and hand were vastly, incomparably smoother and more competent. This was no muscle/nerve training exercise that takes weeks or months – this was a quantum jump. It applied not just to left-handed tooth cleaning but to brushing my hair, using the computer mouse, opening jars and slicing vegetables one-handed, drawing and writing, you name it. Our conventional anatomical and physiological explanations don’t cut it here. A quantum jump like this has to be sought in energy first, with matter following the lead and reconfiguring itself accordingly. It shows several things: the power of consciousness as an energy that can alter material reality, the responsiveness of the body to energy and consciousness, the wisdom and knowing of the body itself and its ability to communicate what it knows.
However there’s more to this story. After my right arm was free of the sling and could begin to resume normal activities, I chose to keep using my left hand equally. One day I was using the computer mouse left-handed and did a fast, complex series of moves very accurately. My left hand still felt awkward, ‘unco’. But hang on a minute! Didn’t my left hand just perform that complex series of moves fast and perfectly? So why do I think it feels ‘awkward’? Then I had an ‘aha’ moment: ‘awkward’ is a judgment, a belief, a label and a habit programmed in by the ‘association cortex’ of the brain. It is a label for the feeling in my body of using my left hand for anything normally done by the right. Labelling it as ‘awkward’ is no longer relevant or appropriate; it’s just different, and the perceived awkwardness is just an old association from when the left hand was previously uncoordinated in its movements. So I let go of associating that feeling with being awkward, and am learning to accept it as merely different, merely the way the left hand feels when it’s working at tasks that are relatively new to it. Way to go, leftie!
I look forward to the next ‘conversation’ with my body or part thereof, when something comes up that needs attention!
Read more on listening to your body’s wisdom:
771 thoughts on “Conversations with my body – Part 2 – Learning to use my left hand”
Dianne, you’ve so beautifully shown us how much fun we can have and also learn when we converse with our body by listening and honouring it to the max.
What an amazing way to be with the body – totally allowing it to do its own thing, in its own manner and timing. We just don’t realise how much we get in its way by our well-meaning, but completely imposing, I-know-what-I-am-doing righteousness.
This is fascinating Dianne-why would the left hand side of the body necessarily move the same way as our right side? Do we allow and accept our bodies to be what they naturally are or impose a picture or expectation on them of how they should be?
Andrewmooney26 I agree with you I feel that we impose on our bodies all the time expecting them to cope with the stresses of life or food and drink that we put into them without considering the consequences and then we get really upset with our bodies when they stop performing or functioning as we think they should.
“the power of consciousness as an energy that can alter material reality” Reading this made me wonder how much else in our everyday lives is altered when we understand the power of consciousness as an energy.
What you have shared here Dianne is a collaborative relationship with the intelligence of the body, which is very honouring. Mostly we live from our brain and cut off from the body, and may also have a relationship to our body that is dominating over it, not really in touch with our body nor regarding it. I remember doing a Esoteric Connective Tissue Therapy and Esoteric Yoga class one morning, at the end I was deeply connected to my body and instantly felt what was needed for breakfast (soup) and the communication was very clear, very different to a craving, just a clear request from the body for what was needed to nourish it. Acting on this resulted in quite a different feeling in myself and felt supportive for my body for the whole day, and a very different experience to the constant to-and-fro thinking of what to eat, or being on auto pilot and having the same thing.
Dianne, I love how you have defined the movement and feeling in your less dominant hand as awkward but then redefined it as just different. There is so much in life which is truly natural to us but does not feel so any more because we have forgotten or have done things differently. This is a reminder to allow the body to return to its natural way of being and not impose upon it how we perceive it should do things.
Yes so true – a whole other way of living is available for us to step into simply by redeveloping an honoring relationship with the intelligence of our body, as we once lived when we were very young.
Thank you Dianne for the great wisdom offered here of how our bodies are always responding to a divine order as is our Soul and when both are aligned and surrendered to, we then are moved in a way that naturally honors divinity and this intelligence, in its unique form of expression. So much to appreciate here – thank you.
The more we talk to our body the deeper our connection becomes and not only are we more aware of our body, we also understand the movements thats are required.
We constantly have conversations with ourselves in our head/thoughts but we forget that the rest of our body is very intelligent and wise. So, having a conversations with our body is very important as this can guide us through life in many amazing ways.
We would learn so much if our conversations with the body were open and honest.
The conversations I have with my body are always illuminating and bring understanding. I connect, feel my body and straight after the feeling comes the words in my mind that explains whatever it was I am inquiring about. The answers don’t come to please my expectations but always presenting the energy behind everything and anything.
Thanks Leigh, your comment inspired me to stop and feel my body and allow what was there to be communicated to come through, it was a great insight that I then received, but more so the activation of the wisdom of the body and the surrender to that.
This is a stunning blog Dianne and revolutionary in terms of how we understand motor control and training. As a physiotherapist I find this fascinating and I have also experienced similar things with my own body, especially when it comes to strength training in the gym. I find if I am really present and connected to my body I can achieve the same results in terms of strength and fitness with light weights and gentle movements in contrast to the way I used to train in the past with much harder, faster and with greater levels of resistance. All by just focusing on the quality of my movements and really honouring how my body naturally moves rather than imposing my own ideas about how it should move upon it. Much less exercise soreness and injuries this way also!
We tend to have very fixed ideas about what constitutes a decent workout so it’s fascinating to read that you actually achieve the same results by moving in a different way. The more I observe my body, the more it shares with me. It turns out it’s not difficult to read my body, and it’s very responsive to the basic changes I make – I just need to listen to what it’s telling me, rather than impose my ideas onto it about what I think/how I think it should be. When we dictate to our bodies how they should be, we close ourselves off/shut ourselves down from hearing what they’re trying to communicate to us.
Thanks Andrew for everything you have shared here, it’s a huge shift from ideals and beliefs and how we impose through thinking how the body should be, to actually being with the intelligence of the body and letting it lead the way – which takes humility and surrender. Amazing also that the same results were achieved with your gym workout from presence with the body and gentle movements impulsed by the body.
I wonder what else we might be doing to get in the way of our body if it can express and perform its potential beyond our expectation when it is left to its own devices, and it is so enlightening to read how our mind might actually be limiting the body’s potential, thinking it knows how it should move.
Anything that we do consistently, when done with tenderness, absolute love and deeply self nurturing will support the body to heal and move in a way that no longer compromises it. It is truly amazing what is possible when we approach our own self care in this way.
I have and continue to learn so much by having these types of conversations with my body.
“…‘awkward’ is a judgment, a belief, a label and a habit programmed in by the ‘association cortex’ of the brain. It is a label for the feeling in my body of using my left hand for anything normally done by the right.”
This is a great example of how one seemingly small belief can cap our true expression. If we are doing this with our hands, what else are we doing it with that is flying under the radar?
Dianne – I love the conversations you have had with your left arm and the profound way that it has responded with smoother movements in short time – perhaps a way forth for re-habilitation centres.
“Just 24 hours later, ALL the unaccustomed movements I made with my left arm and hand were vastly, incomparably smoother and more competent. This was no muscle/nerve training exercise that takes weeks or months – this was a quantum jump”.
It is amazing how well we can use our other hand with a little training when we don’t try to control it and override its natural movement. It is a great realisation of how we automatically think using the other hand feels a little weird, when it is capable of doing many tasks, we just have a preference to be right or left handed.
This blog had me captivated Dianne, because I love how you explain profound scientific concepts using everyday experiences that everyone can relate to and it shows just how much comparison tends to not only separate ourselves from each other (or in the case of your hand movements, not accept the beauty of how your left hand wanted to move to support you in its own way) but also caps our own development and flow of love via judgement and putting things into little boxes of classification.
I have always been a bit ambidextrous. I have always used my left hand to do more detailed work like write, sew, paint etc, but used my right hand to do more physical tasks like chop food, use a broom, hold a bat or racket, use scissors, and then used either to stir, clean, brush my teeth. So very interesting what you talk about here Dianne. I injured my right hand a few years ago and was not able to use it for sometime so had to train my left hand to do more than it would normally do. Patience and a willingness to stay connected to my body really supported me to remain steady, and to not over extend myself. It was amazing how well my body adjusted, the deeper I was willing to take care of myself. It even became fun as I explored a different approach to doing things.
How do I feel to do X,Y and Z? I often can mentally plan how to do something but how I approach situations from how I feel to do it does often feel really lovely.
I just love the conversations you have with parts of the body, the way you respond in making your body and the way it moves or behaves the experiment and work with that without judgements is truly inspiring and very loving towards yourself. It exposes how many judgements I have when my body is not working in the way I expect it to work.
I agree Annelies, as does it expose how imprisoning these judgements are and to what extent they inhibit our true movement.
Its great when we allow our bodies to support us in this way. Preparing the left hand to do what the right hand usually does takes commitment and compassion. An inspiring blog, thank you Dianne.
There are so many places where we hold judgement because something is different or not the ‘norm’, I love this exploration you have shared as so often it is just our perception and what is in fact normal is the complete opposite to what we might perceive.
I love the way you research Dianne – learning so much from the body and the wisdom of its flow.
In the science of placebo effects, it’s known that how we speak to patients can influence the outcome of a medicine for example. So it makes sense to that how we speak to ourselves and the words we use would directly effect our own body.
My understanding was that the placebo effect was ‘non existent’ or only from ones mind, but I’d question if it was more the power of energy that heals rather than something that comes out of nowhere or from ones head.
Interestingly there is a whole area of research dedicated to the placebo effect and it is showing that it is definitely not ‘not existent’ and definitely not from the mind. Some of the research is amazing and will certainly lead us to asking deeper questions about how we are much more than the physical aspect of medicine.
I’ve read an article on the healing effect of care and spoken with my doctor about it who informed me that care has a very beneficial effect on patients and outcomes, this is the energy of sincere care and not referring to the physical acts of care. I find it very healing to know I am cared about and receive that care from others. I’ve also seen instant changes in others when unwell when I support them with a quality of care and nurturing. In one case the person was very pale, unsettled emotionally and feeling nauseous, within a few minutes of feeling my nurturing and care his complexion changed to a better colour, he settled and began to feel more at ease and less sick. This happened very quickly and was very reflective of the energetic quality I brought to the interaction. Science knows everything is energy so the energetic quality we bring can and does have an effect.
As the words of the song says
” I listen to my body it has a lot to say
it tells me how I truly feel went to rest and play”… Sound advice 🙂
This is really really cool. I so love your style, Dianne. What a loving and fun thing to do – giving yourself a prep training to use your left hand prior to the surgery on the right. We are a creature of habit and anything that challenges our comfort is experienced as awkward. It is very inspiring to feel how innocent curiosity opens space for us to appreciate the unexpected.
This is yet another beautiful and majestic example of how the body is far more intelligent than we often give the needed credit for.
This is quite ground breaking and demonstrates that the body responds to being listened to and respected as the carrier of our wisdom.
Or perhaps, we can ask the body how it needs to move rather than impose upon it through a preconceived idea or concept.
A different way of understanding the saying ‘the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing’.
Our thoughts or beliefs can be a road block to listening to the wisdom of the body. Through connecting to our inner heart (Gentle Breath Meditation is a great first step), the body can be more clearly heard.
We can learn so much from the wisdom that is embedded within us, just waiting for us to listen.
Dianne – another inspiring blog. I love how you explore your body through the understanding of science and then discover so much more through checking in with the body itself and listening to its profound wisdom.
As the children’s song goes… I listen to my body it has a lot to say, it tells me how I truly feel and when to rest and play 🙂
This blog makes clear how much we stand to learn about ourselves and the world of energy by conversing with the body. Science is its purest essence!
Yes, it is science that can lead to a healthier and more loving life, and supports a gentle, cooperative and communicative approach to the body. It’s science with openness.
I love how you took awkward out of your movements through your awareness and willingness to let go of any judgement or previous ways of viewing things….in this case your own movements.
It seems that it was that very deep, still connection with your body, that gave you the space to explore movement outside the box of how you had, to this date, moved with your left hand. Fascinating study on movement Dianne, thank you.
Always love reading your blogs Dianne, in this instance when we don’t use our left hand as our predominant hand we expect it not to perform as well as our right, yet as soon as we do this we are already measuring its capability and capping it at the same time, when it is in fact capable of working equally as well, with a little practice.
I love the connectivity of the whole body and how beautifully the body responds when we treat it with utmost respect and care and tenderness – in fact this allows us as a whole being to blossom.
I love how you share that you thought it felt awkward but actually it was just feeling different which makes sense because we are used to use our right arm our whole life (years and years and years) and we expect it to feel the same with our left hand after a couple of months!
We perceive so much to be true and yet when it’s truly tested we see there is more to life than mere perception. As the article is saying our body communicates if we ask the questions and yet the perception would be it couldn’t or you’d be mad or similar and yet it’s tested and here we have the truth of it. I find this article a real exploration into how we can be with ourselves, our body to a different level. It breaks open communication and awareness to our whole body that can be at times one sidedly dominate and I love that the awkwardness we can at times feel is changed to just a difference. This article has changed the way I look at things in relation to my body and how it operates and I have more awareness on how I move.
History is riddled with examples of truths emerging in science followed by an enormous backlash, such as the truth about the earth being round and not flat. It seems that certain beliefs are treated as facts and attached to and defended, if not ridiculed. The truth though still eventually emerges – that to me is true science.
That we see our non-dominant hand as weaker than the other is something I need to ponder on much more.
We can get so caught up in the busyness of life and forget about the vehicle that is making all of that busyness possible, so it’s great to move with our bodies so that we are then aware when something feels not right. And when we do need to have surgery working with our bodies as you have Dianne, is a huge support right through the whole process.
Expectations of our body and our relationship with all of our body, something most valuable to ponder and review in the way we see and relate to it.
Dianne I just love the way you present your lived experiences in a way that is totally engaging, fun and full of absolute gold. Thank-you.
I loved how you have proven the power we are capable of through communicating with your body and allowing matter to reconfigure in alignment to conscious thought. For the innate wisdom of the body to be released and your left hand to act out movements that should take muscular training is an extraordinary testament to our capabilities that remain largely untapped.
This shows us time and time again that when we say we don’t have the ‘know how’ well now we know we do!
I am writing this comment with my left hand, whilst my dominate hand has a reluctant rest and although it is taking longer with lefty, it is very interesting how difficult it is to have my right arm to take a rest. It’s almost like my right arm is very sore and damaged, it has RSI…repetitive strain injury. Every day, the health of my arm depreciates and the pain is beginning to dominate that is why I am so grateful to try some of your tips. I am going to start the training and connection, thank you Dianne and thank you Lefty for paving the way for all other leftys!
Wow, Dianne, I love how you have described this, and it feels like I need to bring more of this allowing in my movements of my whole body all of the time! – “I gave my left arm permission to do the move its own way, infinitely slowly, and claim or consolidate each successful increment without jerking before moving on. When I say slow, I mean SLOW. It felt lovely – a very deep, still connection with my body.”