Opposite Day

How can opening a car door with your opposite hand help you grow your brain and become more creative?  Or for that matter, how does writing with your non-dominant hand raise your self-awareness?  It’s funny what lessons you learn when you start out having an adventure just to readjust your posture.  Rather, I discovered these lessons when I was given the advice to try “Opposite Day.”

The backstory

On a recent camping trip I met a spiritual healer.  This healer, Joe, specializes in whole body adjustments. He surveyed me and told me I am uneven.  I wasn’t surprised – looking at myself in yoga class, or in the True Mirror, or the few times I was measured for a bra…I knew this.  As my sixth grade art teacher stated as we were learning to draw faces, there are no straight lines in nature and nothing in nature is perfect.  (She may have been combining the quotes of Antoni Gaudi “There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature.” Or Alice Walker “In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.”)  Joe looked at my neck muscles and pointed out how they are stronger on my left side than my right.  Then he asked if I was right-handed.  This led to an interesting conversation.

When you look in a True Mirror, you see the flip of what you normally see in the mirror – you see how others actually see you. In my True Mirror, my uneven neck muscles are more noticeable to me. (Photo via TrueMirror.com /Circus Picnic video)

Uneven neck muscles

If you’re a guy, you’ve probably heard about how you should not wear a wallet in your back pockets because it could distort your posture and even lead to sciatica.  For women, the multi-billion back pain industry is fueled by big purses (and the backpacks carried on one shoulder instead of both).  For me – I’m guessing my issues started when I had kids and carried the heavy diaper bag on my left shoulder and the baby on that hip.  Then as they got older, purse styles got bigger.  I carried not only stuff for them, but things to entertain me on my commuter train ride to work.  I remember one ride where we were stuck for hours due to flooding, and I had plenty of work-related magazines to read.

In my conversation with Joe, the spiritual healer, we discussed this phenomenon as it related to my uneven neck muscles.  We agreed it could be the cause.  Definitely not scoliosis (which a friend’s dad tried to tell me when I probably had – like his daughter – when I was a middle-schooler.  Yes, I freaked out and a test showed I was fine.)  Here’s where the adventure starts – Joe challenged me to a new way of restoring my alignment: play the “Opposite Day” game.

Opposite Day game

Here’s how the Opposite Day game works.  Use your non-dominant side more often than your usual dominant side.  I have been attempting this for more than a day, and am hoping it becomes habit.  Trust me – it’s a challenge!  Here are a few of the things I noticed that took conscious effort:

  • Opening the car door
  • Unlocking the front door
  • Brushing teeth
  • Soaping up (for that matter, any bathroom stuff)
  • Buttoning pants/jeans
  • Using the mouse
  • Typing on the phone
  • Carrying a purse, grocery bags, or a yoga mat
  • Pushing elevator buttons
  • Switching the side of the bed to sleep on
  • Taking a step with the “other” leg first
  • Caressing a pet
  • Holding hands with my partner
  • Cutting food (I was extra careful with this!)
  • Which hand I held my wallet and which hand I used my debit card
  • Writing

The intention is to build up the muscle on my right side by making sure I carry the heavy stuff on that side.  In a sense, my right hand is the “lazy” side, since usually I hold keys/cards or open doors etc., while my left shoulder holds the weight of my purse/gym bag/groceries.  Forcing your body to learn new habits, after a lifetime of doing it the old way, isn’t easy.  The brain wants routine.  If you are right hand dominant, you mostly use the left side of the brain.  When you switch it up to using the opposite side, your brain gets confused.  Basically, you’re making your brain grow because it’s learning new things and using parts of the brain that normally are not.  It’s also the right side of your brain where creativity lives.  Using the left side of the body triggers the right side to be more active…and increases your creative thoughts!

Non-dominant hand journaling method

There is a way I’ve learned over the years to access my own inner wisdom.  This technique involves writing a question with your usual hand (your dominant side).  Then write the answer with your non-dominant hand, letting the words (as awkward and messy as the script may be) flow out.

writing with the non dominant hand on Opposite Day

Often-times you will come up with a better answer than you would have using your normal thought pattern.  This switching allows you to cut through the judgements, the ‘shoulds’, the habitual thoughts and allows the more artistic, spiritual side of your brain create the answer.  Some people address their questions to their “inner child,” and some address their spirit guides, or their angels.  No matter what you call this higher power or opposite brain, the answers tend to be very wise.  I often go back to this technique when I feel I am getting in my own way!

Recently there was a person who kept frustrating me with his selfish behavior.  I didn’t like how he triggered me and I would get angry at his silly stunts.  I finally went to my special journal and wrote out the question “why does he bother me?”  Instead of answering something about who this guy is as a person, my higher-self pointed out a time when a family member acted out similarly and I felt unsafe as a child.  With this self-awareness, I was able to take action that replaced my anger with serenity.

Share the fun

I told my Bikram Yoga instructor about my Opposite Day experiment, and loved how he supported my efforts and joined in the fun.  During the hot yoga class, where we are doing the same 26 poses that Bikram is based on, he snuck in some comments to remind us to switch up which side we turn over on when getting up off the floor from the corpse (or savasana).  This makes me smile every time!  In a class where the moves are the same no matter where you are in the world, done the same way so that poses often become part of muscle memory…this is one fun way to switch things up!

While I can’t tell you if I’ve become more creative over the past few weeks, I can tell you that I have become much more conscious of every day routines.  I’ve slowed down and appreciate the small things more.  Even cutting a cucumber has become more of a slow art than a quick dice.

Cutting cucumbers on Opposite Day

I don’t mind that my neck muscles are uneven.  In fact, I’m grateful that this part of me brought up an interesting conversation, and a chance to appreciate the gloriousness of my imperfectness through Opposite Day!

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  1. Anne-Marie

    Enjoyed this read. I might just give Opposite Day a try!

    • Stacey Newman Weldon

      Let me know how it goes for you? Did you have any laughs? Learn anything?


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