Compassion for my left side

Today while I was meditating (and thus not supposed to be noticing anything) I noticed that every time I started pursuing a thought my left shoulder tensed up. Releasing the thought required releasing my left shoulder. What is this about? I wondered. And I released the thought, and my left shoulder.

After the meditation I began journaling, which I do on my computer. And I noticed, not for the first time, that my left arm and shoulder tensed up while I was typing while my right arm and shoulder stayed relaxed. My right hand danced over the keys. My left hand was not dancing. It was trying to but it felt clunky, as if it might step on its partner’s toes at any moment.

I am right handed. Everything is easier for my right hand. But certain tasks, like typing, which I do sometimes for hours every day, require equal performance from my left hand. My poor left hand has to scramble to keep up. The extra effort causes tension.

My left side is the not-so-talented twin trying to measure up to the standards of her more gifted sister. In so doing she acquires a residue of tension that never really goes away. It extends to my left leg, which currently carries the remains of a knee injury that happened months ago. Every time I do yoga balancing poses I am reminded of the inferiority of my left side. It is weaker, less coordinated. I topple over much more quickly when I am standing on my left leg.

This has been happening all my life. I have known it but I have never paid attention to it. I have been dismissive about it. I have not paid true attention, which requires receptive curiosity and even compassion.

This thought (which I have just pursued as the tension builds in my left shoulder) brought me to the question of whether something more than actual inferiority of function is involved. Could it be that my left side has an inferiority complex?

That is, the constant, inevitable comparison with my right side causes my left side to expect itself to fail to measure up. It expects to have to try harder and thus experiences a kind of neurotic desperation. It can’t relax because it is always ready to spring into action. Even when I am meditating, as the thought process starts up the left shoulder tenses in the expectation that it will have to perform in some way.

I know some people like that. Sometimes I am like that.

Poor, dear left side. I will try to pay compassionate attention to you for a while and make amends for criticizing you, dismissing you, expecting things of you without appreciating the extra effort they require. What do you require?

By the way, if you suspect that writing about my left side, boring car trips, and losing weight indicates that my life is pretty quiet right now, you are right. Not much happening. You could call these posts, How to Write a Blog out of Nothing, which may have a certain appeal, given that my most popular post of all time is one called How to Make a Meal out of Nothing.

But I would really like to know what my next big thing will be. I have some ideas but they haven’t come together yet.

2 thoughts on “Compassion for my left side

  1. Nancy, as I read and ponder with you at 11:38 pm, fool that I am, I leave these thoughts:
    1) What a gauche problem!
    (2) Watch: “My Left Foot.”
    (3) Read: Ezekiel 3:26 – 4:9.
    (4) Ask: me why I have been praying while lying on my RIGHT side for the last 18 months.
    (4) Gaze:at “Reclining Buddha” at this link:,i:78

    peace, reclining and smiling Nina

    • Why HAVE you been praying while lying on your right side, hmmm? Is your poor left side hurting? Oh I get it, having read Ezekiel now. I see you must be bearing the sin of … Judah?

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