Tony Wright and G Gynn: Left in the Dark

"...the right brain's mode of processing is rapid, whole-patterned, spatial and perceptual - very different from the left brain's linear, verbal and analytic approach. [...] ...our education system, as well as science in general, tends to neglect the non-verbal forms of intellect." (p.10)
"Whilst day-dreaming, we are in at least partial right hemisphere mode. We access it when we are absorbed in activities like playing instruments and listening to music, when we are lost in painting and unaware of the passage of time and when we are in a beautiful landscape and it seems that time stands still. Moments like these have been termed 'peak experiences'.

"These special experiences are characterised by one thing - the absence of the seemingly ever-present chatter from the left brain. It is only when that constant verbal dialogue with oneself ceases that peak experiences are possible. That is why activities such as painting, music and even fishing are so restoring and why meditation can be so effective." (p. 11)
"It is only when we stop thinking where, for instance, we have left our car keys that their whereabouts come to us. The release of the controlling aspect of linear function that occurs during states of revelry and dreams allows the right brain to function more freely - in this state creative ideas seem to appear from nowhere and we can access a much more detailed part of our memory too." (p. 96)
"Photoreading' courses use various activation techniques to enable connections to be made between what they regard as the inner mind and the conscious mind. Mind-mapping, engaging dreaming, acting, discussing, and drawing are all used to bring content through into our accessible brain system." (p. 16-17)
"Julian Jaynes identified, from a detailed study of early writings, cultural archaeology and medical behaviourism, a state he termed bicameral mind. He proposes that at one time human nature was split in two with an executive part called a god, and a follower part called a man. He argues that neither part was conscious in the way that we are today, and that consciousness arose when this bicamerality broke down under the pressures of social conflict and cultural change. His argument is fascinating and, whilst we have reached a different conclusion, his journey of discovery reveals much that is of interest to us here. He hypothesised that there was a critical period in our history during which there was greater access to right-sided function. The 'god side of self' is a manifestation of the right-sided self." (p. 87)
"Aboriginal people prefer to walk together in total silence because whilst walking they speak in the ancient way with 'telepathy' rather than voice." (p. 17)
"The inability to put the experience into words, together with a stepping out of the time dimension, indicates a crossing from left to right dominance. Is 'stepping out of time' then merely a perceptual anomaly initiated when something within consciousness shifts, or is our perception of time something to do with left hemisphere dominance? What happens to time when we access right side function?" (p. 99)

Left hemisphere physical and mental states and capabilities:

  • Analytic, rational understanding
  • Thinks in terms of classification, words and symbols
  • Movement of the right hand
  • Concepts of time, sequence, speech, language
  • Reading, solving math problems
  • Processes in a linear, verbal, analytic way using classifications, words and symbols
  • Vocabulary
  • Fear
  • Fatigue
  • The conscious mind
  • Conscious 'trying' and using words
  • Stress
  • Short-term (and selective) memory
"As we age there is a general tendency to talk more, to become less imaginative and more fearful (all indicative of increased left hemisphere dominance). In contrast, children tend to be highly imaginative and reckless. They live much more in a fantasy world of imagination - a right hemisphere mode of operation that is much richer and more complex than the linear, step by step mode." (p. 110)
"After puberty, consciousness changes to an adult mode and a more intellectual, 'stable', but fearful self increasingly dominates." (p. 117)

A particularly interesting connection to draw on here is that these restrictive tendencies, here described as the left-brain functions, seem to be the same mind-states contemplated by many before, and called different names. For example, what Sigmund Freud terms 'Ego' is a negative, controlling tendency of the mind that seems to be similar to the left brain function. Also, Eckhart Tolle writes about 'the pain body', which shows up as something to distract you from your intuitive and 'present' mind state. The Buddhists talk about the 'mad-monkey brain' whose constant chatter can be overcome through meditation. And recently, brain-wave researchers have identified alpha-brainwaves as the ones which allow access to the subconscious mind, as contrasted with theta brainwaves, which are the active (left-brain?) ones which keep us in a state of high-alert and activity.

(And then, at a point of high-activity, a rhythmic activity - or music - can seemingly awaken the right, intuitive brain again. Are we in an alpha-brain state when dancing?)

The Optimal 'Golden-Age Diet'/ Raw Food Diet/ Rainforest Diet

Graham Gynn and Tony Wright advocate a raw food diet throughout the 'Left in the Dark', mainly because of the melatonin, betacarbolines and bioflavonoids found in fruit, which they say are able to suppress (although I would prefer to use the word 'balance', or 'regulate') natural steroid hormones in our bodies.

"The diet of our forest ancestors was a rich mixture of leaves and fruit. Each element of this diet contained thousands of unique chemicals. Whole groups of these chemicals are known to affect neural biochemistry and some in similar ways to anti-depressant drugs. Both elevate the activity of neurotransmitters. For perhaps millions of years a diet of several kilos of plant material, loaded with thousands of chemicals, [was] eaten every day." (p. 162)
"We have come to the surprising conclusion that our normal state of body/ mind is not operating as well as it could and that a more functional state is hidden behind it. A critical look at areas such as human fertility, immunity and even baldness reveals evidence for a breakdown within these systems that appears to have been caused by an imbalance in steroids.

"The most significant hormones in the story are testosterone and oestrogen. Either higher levels of these steroid hormones or, more accurately, an increase in their activity has precipitated a train of events that has upset optimal human performance. This has had profound repercussions on both our physical being and our consciousness, indeed down to the very way we think. The key steroid inhibitors - the heroes of our story - are melatonin, betacarbolines and the vast number of chemicals, such as bioflavonoids, found in fruit. We are suffering today from a chronic shortage of these crucial chemicals, and, because of this lack, our pineal glands are not as active as they should be." (p. 170)

Another reason to promote the raw food diet is the high vitamin and mineral content of raw plant food:

"Recent studies suggest that antisocial conduct may be linked to diet too. Increasing the levels of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids in the diets of young, imprisoned offenders reduced the number of disciplinary offences committed by over a quarter."
(p. 143)

The writers are also very opposed to eating grains and cereals:

"Hominid brains appear to have remained fairly constant in size for a long period from some 1.8 Million years ago until about 600,000 years ago. But then, from 600,000 years to 150,000 years before the present, fossils show that the cranial capacity of our ancestors skyrocketed. Brain mass peaked at about 1,440 grams. Since then brain mass has declined to the 1,300 grams that is typical today. [...] The very period of brain shrinkage coincides with a major dietary change, for it was around this period that cereals and grain came to the fore. [...] Indeed studies of skeletons from early agricultural societies show ill health accompanies the initial transition to eating more grains and cereals. [...] just about anywhere that this transition to cereals occurs, health declines." (p. 39)

For ideas on supplementation, see the second chapter in this review: 'Correcting Cerebral Asymmetries'.

"... old age and disease do not necessarily go together. In the remote Andean highlands of Ecuador, there are communities of people who it is claimed live for 140 years or more and who remain agile and lucid right to the end. [...] David Davies, who has made a study of these 'Centenarians of the Andes', found that the people who have the best chance of a healthy old age are those that actively use their minds and bodies, even towards the end of their lifespan. [...] The folk who lived longest were found amongst those that lived on a subsistence diet, which was low in calories and animal fat." (p. 40)

Superman/ Wonder-Woman

"If we can recreate our ancestral hormonal environment through diet and a sustained reversal of cerebral dominance, a very different human may emerge. One with enhanced perception, a stronger immune system, more balanced dexterity, more efficient digestion and greater physical and mental capability. We would experience more profound and pleasurable sexuality too, coupled with a reproductive system that worked as nature intended. Even baldness would no longer be a problem. Most crucially, society would become much less aggressive and violent because our sense of self would change radically." (p. 170-171)

"A recent television documentary covered the story of a man involved in a shipping accident who fell into the sea. He should have died quickly from the low temperatures. However, he not only survived but also rescued a few other floundering people along the way. When he was finally picked up, and was safe in a helicopter, he described a mental state of surrender that allowed something more functional and powerful to take over. There are many similar stories of seemingly miraculous feats of endurance, strength and heroic valour that are remembered for their effortless dream-like quality that often incorporates mental states of clarity and fearlessness. [...] Rhea White, co-author (with Michael Murphy) of 'In the Zone', has collected accounts of over 4500 of these, many of which appear to have a quasi-spiritual aspect." (p. 164)

"[A] record breaker, speed skier Steve McKinney, recalls that at [...] peak times it was like 'riding the substance of dreams, a magic carpet of air, into which power was sensuously entwined. And marathon runner, Ian Thompson, has only to think of putting on his running shoes to be filled with kinaesthetic pleasure of floating. Ecstasy is a remarkably common experience felt by many sportsmen, dancers and even musicians." (p. 165)

"Stillness, peace and a liberated detachment from our ordinary state of mind are qualities usually associated with meditation and deep prayer. But such states can take over too in the midst of extremely focused activity." (p. 165)

Left in the Dark: Free Ebook PDF Download

Update: This book is now available to read online in its entirety - download a free pdf from

For more information:

Tony Wright in Wikipedia, with references to articles

Update: Tony Wright and Graham Gynn now have a new book out: "Return to the Brain of Eden: Restoring the Connection Between Neurochemistry and Consciousness" (Inner Traditions, 2014)

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