Graham Gynn and Tony Wright: Left in the Dark (The Biological Origins of the Fall from Grace): An Investigation into the Evolution of the Human Brain. A Journey to the Edge of Human Mind, 2nd edition (Kaleidos Press 2008)
This book review summarizes the contents of this book and provides some additional information on the topics covered. If you would rather read the whole book in free pdf form, there is a download link at the bottom of this page.
This is quite a long book summary, so here are quick links to the different sections of this review:
Summary of Key Ideas
Activating the Right Brain Hemisphere - The Pineal Gland/ DMT/ the Third Eye/ the Subconscious Mind.
The Human Golden Age/ Atlantis/ Paradise
Fall from Paradise/ 'Left in the Dark'
The Right Hemisphere Self vs. the Left Hemisphere Self - The Subconscious versus the Conscious Mind
The Optimal 'Golden-Age Diet'/ Raw Food Diet/ Rainforest Diet
Main hypotheses in the book:
The authors have been researching the differences between the left and the right sides of our brain. Where the left brain hemisphere is commonly been accepted as the dominant one, Graham Gynn and Tony Wright have made discoveries regarding the less-known abilities of the right brain hemisphere. By various ways of shutting down the left hemisphere (e.g. with drugs, meditation or sleep deprivation) they have found out that the right hemisphere is capable of many of the same functions as the left, and much more. They say that speech recognition, for example, has recently shown to be a skill of the right hemisphere as well, where previously this skill was attributed exclusively to the left brain. In addition, enhanced memory, improved moods, expanded consciousness and blissful states of mind are some of the abilities Gynn and Wright attribute to the right brain hemisphere.
The experiments of Graham Gynn and Tony Wright also seem to confirm that a raw food diet affects the right brain capabilities in a beneficial way.
Various scientists in recent cutting-edge brain and psychological research, as quoted in the book, are finding out that the right brain may be capable of seemingly super-human feats if the suppression of the controlling, logical left side is lifted.
(At this point I would like to invite you to watch the movie 'Limitless', which was inspired by the DMT, the chemical produced by our brain and associated with opening the 'third eye' and stimulating the pineal gland.)
Graham Gynn's and Tony Wright's findings are fascinating and the book is worth a concentrated read, whether you are a raw foodist or not. It does definitely require an open mind, however, as the claims are quite wild, to say the least, and sometimes the assumptions made by the authors are quite far removed from the research quoted. The book provides much food for thought, however. The experiments Gynn and Wright have embarked on themselves and the results of those experiments add to the interesting flow of imagination presented in the book - for example:
"To Investigate some of the issues around sleep and enhanced body/brain function, a pilot study under Professor David Collins took place in September 1998 at Manchester Metropolitan University. Two subjects [including Tony Wright] stayed awake for five days and four nights while being tested and monitored round the clock. One further element to the experiment was that the two individuals had for a number of years been maintaining an almost exclusively raw food diet, rich in fruit. [...] It was expected that the longer these two subjects were deprived of sleep the more they would exhibit decreases in co-ordination and functional ability, however this did not occur. In fact some abilities actually increased as the experiment progressed. [...] The overall results [...] show dexterity, strength and co-ordination increased rather than declined." (p. 19, Left in the Dark)
The ideas they put forward for WHY many of these experiments gave the results they did are less convincing, in my opinion. They postulate that since we don't eat a 'primate diet' any more, which would consist primarily of fresh fruits, we don't get the 'steroid inhibitors' we need from fruit. As a result our body gets an overdose of steroid hormones, which - over generations - would cause gradual damage to the left side of the brain. This, and other negative symptoms occurring as a result of less-than-optimal diet, the writers see as a fundamental reason for the devolution of the human and the cause of many of our problems today. Basically Graham Gynn's and Tony Wright's conclusion in the book is that we are all brain damaged.
Although it is quite easy to believe that our bodies and brains don't work optimally if we don't eat a nutrient rich diet, the idea about hormones and steroids specifically is harder to agree with. For one, this would mean that men's brains are more damaged than women's, just because they have more testosterone - which I like to believe to be a natural hormonal difference between the sexes. There are many other details in the theory which I personally could not stretch myself to agree with. But in a way I appreciate a book more which dares to make suggestions and wild ideas - it is a refreshing read and leaves you free to disagree. But every time I read the book I find it inspiring and fascinating, with new insights at each read. So in my view, take Graham Gynn's and Tony Wright's ideas with 'a pinch of salt' but also, dare to study them.
To reactivate and to support the function of the often-called 'creative', right side of the brain, Graham Gynn and Tony Wright propose a raw food diet consisting primarily of fruit, supplementing with melatonin, possibly a low-dose intake of DMT and other drugs, meditation, sleep reduction and something called 'transcranial magnetic stimulation' (TMS), which is a research/ treatment tool where weak electromagnetic currents and magnetic fields are used to stimulate different parts of the brain.
"To summarize then, the restoration of an individual's consciousness system would need to include a combination of the following approaches:
- Rebuilding and restoring the neural structure by including the important nutritional elements of a primate diet.
- Putting in the optimal biochemistry to lift function: this would include monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as those found in passion flower tea and figs, and also melatonin to boost the pineal and inhibit steroids. There may even be a need for chemicals such as DMT (at a clinically determined level) to re-activate the second system.
- Engaging in techniques such as meditation and sleeping less to reduce left hemisphere dominance.
- Possible short-term use of high-tech processes like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation to allow the right hemisphere some time free from suppression.
"This combination of approaches would stimulate the pineal [gland] to produce more melatonin, pinoline and possibly DMT. More melatonin means greater suppression of steroids, like testosterone, and this will have two further effects. It will block or reduce the ongoing damage caused by too much neurotransmitter activity. This would initiate a reversal of the neuro-endocrine damage that began in those distant days when we were cut off from the forest biochemistry." (p. 187-188)
Some of these suggestions are by other health writers flagged as harmful, so I would suggest good amount of research before trying any of these suggestions. Research also what it means to activate the pineal gland and to open the third eye as these may result in extreme experiences, such as hallucinations and spiritual/ psychedelic experiences of various kinds.
DMT is the active ingredient in ayahuasca, which is one of the strongest psychedelic drugs known to man (traditional natural brew made by the natives in the Colombian Amazon). It has been used by shamans for communing with the spirit worlds and has also been experimented with by Westeners with mixed results. DMT in the brew remains inactive unless combined with a plant which contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI). For a gentler influence, the author of the website 'Food for Consciousness' recommends combining Passion Flower Tea with St. John's Wort, to make 'happy tea'. This has certain beneficial properties for the neurotransmitters in the brain. This is her recommendation for a low-level dosage of ayahuasca:
"To increase the effect you can move on to supplementing with small daily doses of ayahuasca brew. This can be made up by boiling up two herbs - banisteriopsis caapi and psychotria viridis - together with the juice of an acid fruit such as oranges for several hours. The banisteriopsis contains MAOI's, the psychotria DMT. One tablespoonful of a weak brew first thing in the morning is a good starting point. It is important not to consume animal, dairy, soy or fermented products at the same time. In large doses ayahuasca can produce very dramatic effects including visions and a substantially altered sense of perception but in these small doses it just wakens the brain up a little, enhancing mood, creativity, inspiration, visual perception, and practical effectiveness."
- Source: Foodforconsciousness.blogspot.com: "Reactivating the Pineal Gland"
There seems to be a clear link between the capabilities of the right hemisphere and those of the subconscious mind. Harry Carpenter's 'The Genie Within' is a very interesting book on the topic and teaches one how to 'communicate' with the subconscious mind and how to make use of its creative powers, enhanced memory, etc. There seem to be many connections between people's ability to access the subconscious mind and their ability to manifest (Law of Attraction).
Alpha brainwaves, which are produced during meditation, in the state between sleep and awakening, while watching TV, etc. are linked to ability to access subconscious mind. What this means, is that learning, subconscious mind programming, suggestion, and manifestation are all made easier when in an alpha brain state. Alpha brainwave meditation cd's such as Holosync are based on this idea. Furthermore, Carpenter maintains in his book that self-limiting beliefs, such as 'I don't deserve to be wealthy' are held within the subconscious mind, and once these limiting beliefs are removed, manifesting wealth becomes easier as the conscious and the subconscious minds are able to collaborate and work together. As Jerry and Abraham Hicks write in their book: 'Ask and It Is Given': "Thoughts are things" and the thoughts of the subconscious mind are stronger in energy than those of the conscious mind.
While the authors of 'Left in the Dark', as well as many others, claim that our pineal gland is not currently producing enough melatonin, and thus recommend supplementation, Stephen Cherniske warns about the side-effects of melatonin in his book "DHEA Breakthrough":
"... popular press and the health industry tend to oversimplify issues. They oversimplify the complexities of human physiology [...] It happened with melatonin. Here is a hormone produced in microgram amounts by the pineal gland, and millions of Americans are now taking a hundred times that amount in a pill. No one knows what long-term effects overdosing with melatonin will have on the pineal gland. After all, high-dose intake of other hormones usually produces some suppression of glandular function, and some melatonin users are now experiencing symptoms of depression and short-term memory loss." (Stephen Cherniske, M.D.: The DHEA Breakthrough)
So whenever supplementing with hormones, whether melatonin, DHEA, human growth hormone, or other neuroactive substances, such as DMT, cautiousness and research into the topic is advisable! Although Stephen Cherniske does not in the above book seem to advice against melatonin, but just for using a safe dosage, there is another aspect where his point of view seems to radically differ from that of Graham Gynn and Tony Wright: Cherniske advises supplementing with DHEA, which is a steroid hormone and capable of increasing testosterone and other hormone levels for both men and women, which in turn have been shown to result in greater energy and other fairly drastic health benefits. Gynn and Wright, on the other hand, advice adhering to a fruitarian diet for the opposite aim that steroid inhibitors are thus ingested in large quantities. Whether we should enhance or dampen the effects of our naturally occurring steroids, then, remains an open question.
Other substances with mind-altering qualities mentioned in Tony Wright's and Graham Gynn's book are MDMA (ecstasy) and ketamine (horse tranquilliser).
"Research into their properties has discovered that they have the ability to reset the brain in some way (by updating the left hemisphere's conditioned reality perhaps). Ketamine has been found to be particularly effective in 'rebooting' the brain in instances when clinically unhelpful responses, particularly depression, are resistant to change. Further research into the activity of MDMA has found that is causes a brain surge of oxytocin - the hormone that helps to bond couples, and mothers to babies - a factor no doubt responsible for the overt changes in behaviour that is the hallmark of this drug. The fact that MDMA has the capacity to instantly and, in many cases, permanently transform the conditioning and cultural beliefs responsible for enmity, aggression and violence deserves thorough consideration. It is also significant that these types of drugs can relieve depression and induce joy. Whilst we are certainly not suggesting that humans are deficient in MDMA, it is likely that we are clinically deficient in key neurochemicals that have some similar properties."
To take ketamine to restart one's brain seems like a drastic approach (!), not dissimilar to being hit by a lightning, which can also in some rare instances cause beneficial changes to the brain and behaviour, e.g. new and sudden creative abilities. Interesting anecdote, however.
MDMA, on the other hand, the key ingredient in ecstasy, has been shown to have some long-term benefits (e.g. in releasing traumatic memories) but it also has the danger of causing severe depression if used in too large quantities, or too regularly.
It is also worth mentioning here that some raw foodists, notably David Wolfe and Ken Rohla, assign third-eye opening properties to ORMUS gold and other ORMUS elements. In supplement form, these can also be extremely powerful, perhaps even similar to DMT, and have to be taken with caution. But the good news is that ORMUS elements occur naturally in plant foods grown in mineral-rich soils, so it is possible to get subtle, natural benefits by eating foods grown in well-nourished soils. To build the soil to be mineral-rich, one needs to feed it volcanic rock powders, probiotics, worms and other beneficial organic materials. This is also called high-brix gardening, because the mineral readings of the plants are taken by something called a refractometer, which gives a 'brix reading' indicating the mineral-content of the plant. (A google search for 'high-brix gardens' brings up plenty of interesting information.)
"Lose your mind and come to your senses"
- Fritz Perls (quoted on p. 111)
Please note, that some of these practices may be dangerous and I cannot recommend the use of any chemicals at all. Natural way is best. Everyone is responsible for their own health and this information is meant only for creative dialogue, not for practical purposes. I also do not advocate breaking any laws, natural or human but if you wish to do so, it is your choice.
"Evolutionary biologists have long been puzzled by what is perhaps the chief mystery of human origins: the explosive and rapid expansion of the human brain in size and complexity over a vanishingly small span of evolutionary time. (p. ix)
Why do we sometimes suddenly feel a sense of deep clarity, calm, euphoria and awakeness when we have been sleep deprived and parts of our brains start slowing and/or shutting down? Have you experienced this? I have. After staying up all night working on a project for a presentation next day, then getting the stress of the presentation over and done with, being extremely tired, and suddenly, for a period of 20 minutes or half an hour, feeling on top of the world, alert, awake and happy. I always thought it had to do with adrenalin and survival instincts kicking in but Gynn and Wright have another, titillating explanation... When the left brain is asleep, we can experience the right brain functioning better.
The key mystery introduced in the book could be described thus: Why are the cerebral asymmetries between the left and right hemisphere most pronounced in the modern human (the Homo Sapiens) although differentiation is also marked in other apes, monkeys and ancient hominids? In other words, since the modern human brain is shown to function less symmetrically than that of the ancient humans and other animals, does it mean that our brain is damaged and not functioning properly?
Graham Gynn and Tony Wright put forward a hypothesis which explains that the human-race did, indeed, fall from grace, after having established a high culture/ a human golden age in paradise, namely, the rainforest.
"The earliest of times, according to the classical writer Hesiod, was a 'Golden Age'. Men lived as gods, with their hearts free from sorrow, in a land abundant in fruit and rich in flocks. [...] The Hindu tradition identifies four epochs [...] The Kriti Yuga was the perfect age. Man had no worldly desires, disease, sorrow or fears. There was supreme happiness, continual delight and the ability to move about at will. [...] With each age, man's virtue lessened a quarter so in the Kali Yuga, our present age, only one quarter of man's virtue remains." (p. xii)
There are interesting anecdotes from other authors to support this point of view, for example, the earlier-mentioned Dr. Stephen Cherniske, in his book: 'DHEA Breakthrough', writes that the human race's minds and bodies are healthiest when we are in a forest environment and closest to the equator. He believes that many of the societies' problems today are due to 'a habitat dysfunction syndrome', i.e. living in an environment different from what our minds and bodies naturally require:
"When was the last time you walked through a dense tropical forest? I remember the experience vividly because of the way it made me feel: relaxed, incredibly alive and free. Whenever I'm in a forest, I feel great whether it's in the Everglades or the California Redwoods. Then I look at data showing that the incidence of cancer increases the farther you live from the equator. I look at the crime rate in our crowded cities or data showing that mental illness increases in direct proportion to population density, and none of that surprises me. It's habitat dysfunction syndrome. Our technology has outstripped our biology." (Stephen Cherniske, M.D.: The DHEA Breakthrough)
Gynn and Wright propose that the 'universal myth' of a pre-historic Golden Age is a memory that reflects our higher evolutionary state of the time when our ancestors lived in the rainforest. They propose that the diet we ate there had much to do with a better brain function and the fast evolutionary development of the human in 'paradise'.
Most people today seem to agree that there is something wrong with the human societies and often the Western Countries are seen as leading this downfall of mankind and breaking down of societies.
For a long time the 'official' explanation for this state of events has been that nature is harsh and competitive, based on the survival of the fittest, and thus the human-kind's tendency to compete and war with each other is not only understandable, but perfectly natural and necessary. This point of view has recently been debunked by many scientists, who put forward the more sensible view that nature evolves through collaboration and often organisms of higher sophistication are based on symbiosis and balance: not only the earth itself with its forests and balanced ecosystem of flora and fauna but also, notably, the cells in the human body itself.
Bruce H. Lipton has spoken of this at length, completely devastating the 'survival of the fittest' point of view in his books 'Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future' (with Steve Bhaerman) and 'The Biology of Belief'. He explains how the human body was only able to develop after the cells learned to build 'peaceful' societies, divide labour and work in collaboration. He also explains why the evolutionary theory based on competition became the canon, against many scientists' contrary beliefs and findings.
As towards a fundamental reason why our societies are dysfunctional, there are many opinions but no united view. There are secondary explanations, from capitalism to imperialism, from ruling elites to bad nutrition, from government control to technology and the media; but the larger question remains: shouldn't the human race be inherently good? And if so, why is it not acting that way? What gave rise to our destructive tendencies?
Again there are many explanations. Some say we are an alien race, and do not belong to this earth. Others say we are mind-controlled by an alien race. Others believe in different types of evil forces at play.
Somehow it never fitted my view of life that evil forces could exist. It always seemed to me that everyone I speak to is good-willing, although people, including myself, can be weak and end up causing harm to themselves and others. Furthermore, if one believes in the scalar/ chi energy and the power of high vibrations, it would seem impossible for something to be powerful and bad-willing at the same time. So in my view, the question is why are we weak and is it something that can be overcome?
It seems that in the 21st Century there is a sort of a super-human mentality brewing in many different disciplines and internet communities, which proposes that our capabilities are much greater than we think and that we have to learn to make full use of our mental and physical powers to overcome our weaknesses and to finally build functional societies and a peaceful earth. This book belongs to that category, and Gynn's and Wright's ideas are worth a good long look. This is how they outline the current problem:
"If we look at our global society, it is apparent that all is not well. Despite good intentions and attempts at cooperation, we live in a very fragmented and violent world. There is war and genocide, we are inflicting havoc on the only planet that sustains us, and we are having increasing problems with interpersonal relationships. It seems we are incapable of behaving anywhere near the ideal we would like to maintain. These problems are becoming more intense in our present era as increasing population and dwindling resources exert more and more pressure." (p. xi-xii)
"The mythic traditions of paradise allude to our naked, forest-dwelling, fruit-eating past. Various cataclysmic disasters portrayed in tales of floods, vulcanism and meteor impact brought the days of perfection to an end. These disruptive, earth-shattering events initiated a change in man too - a single divine self was split into two and the more fallen, delusional self assumed overall control. The impetus to treat this condition and the ingenious techniques devised to access the suppressed 'god-side' of man gave rise to religions.
"These ancient traditions are mirrored by our scientific view of the past and present. Anthropologists tell us that our direct ancestors lived in the tropical rain forest - and our closest relatives, the fruit-eating apes, still do. Various disciplines, including climatology and palaeontology, have found that the evolution of many forms of life have been profoundly affected by repeated ecological catastrophes. And from the sciences of neurology and psychology we know that we have two distinct selves. The latest research in this field is now revealing that the dominant side [of the brain] is perceptually limited and continually makes up confabulated tales to cover its fractures of reality. The dormant side [the right hemisphere], in contrast, has exceptional latent abilities - even its capacity for pleasure is more encompassing." (p. xiii)
Tony Wright and Graham Gynn also propose an interesting theory on how reading and writing have evolved out of our inability to use our higher senses (verbal skills being connected to the left brain dominance). They explain how pictorial languages (ancient scriptures, character-based languages) enable highly creative interpretations, indicating right-brain activation. Hebrew and Aramaic, on the other hand, are slightly less right-brain activating written languages but due to the lack of vowels, and the reading order from right to left, are still very intuitive. The highly ordered and specific-in-meaning modern Western languages, in contrast, are very limited in meaning - narrow - activate the left brain and indicative of reduced brain capacities...
"The need for reading and writing can also be interpreted as a response to a mental failing that included declining memory and reduced access to direct intuitive knowledge." (p. 91)
One of the many historical references in 'Left in the Dark' for gradual diminishing powers of the human mind/ brain:
"The decline of the right hemisphere control is illustrated in historical Greek culture by the declining role of their oracles." (p. 88, Left in the Dark)
Tony Wright in 1995 spent three days and nights awake to test his brain function with a result that his left hemisphere of the brain fell asleep causing all the normal symptoms of fatigue. However, his right hemisphere stayed awake and could now function without interference from the left brain. As a result, for 20 minutes, he felt euphoric and also had superior perceptual abilities, compared to his normal self. This lead to further research by both Tony Wright and Graham Gynn, which was based on the hypothesis that we have an imbalance in our brains, which causes a type of psychosis, the domination by the left hemisphere of the right, causing a blockage in the majority of our higher brain functions.
"...reducing sleep changed the area of brain activation - there was a reduction in left hemisphere activity and a corresponding increase in the right."
(p. 21, Left in the Dark)
"Research carried out over the last thirty or so years has quietly revolutionised our understanding of how the human brain works. Some of it challenges long held notions of who and what we think we are. We may be on a cusp of a new and very profound understanding of consciousness [...] This new perspective will, we predict, reach into the realms of enhanced health, supercharged immune systems and consciousness change. [...] Recent research has indicated that [the] foundations of physics and biology, though they have been in the past helpful to our understanding, are only partially true. In our everyday lives we may think of ourselves as being separate, however we all have the ability to open ourselves to a much more subtle level of experience - one of underlying unity and connectedness. [...] We are now discovering, for example, that the mind has direct connections to the immune system, raising possibilities of 'thinking ourselves well'. Renewed scientific interest in the phenomenon of autistic savants is also beginning to unlock the secrets of what were once considered to be supra normal abilities. All this new evidence has started to shift the orthodox scientific view. What is becoming clear is that the human mind has untapped powers." (p. 2)
To summarise from Graham Glynn's and Tony Wright's 'Left in the Dark':
The following help to access the 'right hemisphere self':
Right hemisphere physical and mental states and capabilities:
"...most learning and change takes place at an unconscious level. And when they refer to the unconscious level they are really, in our view, talking about right hemisphere function." (p. 111) [my emphasis]
"...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:
"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?)
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."
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)
"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)
Update: This book is now available to read online in its entirety - download a free pdf from Leftinthedark.org.uk
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":
Ulla is the Editor of Cheap Health Revolution, covering natural remedies and health solutions.