The word “clairvoyant” is derived from Latin roots through French to English and literally translates as “clear sight.” Most understand the word as meaning intuitive, psychic, telepathic, second-sighted, perceptive, or farsighted. The first element of the word can also mean “light” as in “clair de lune”—moonlight. It’s a lovely word and perhaps appropriate to a discussion of the right hemisphere of the brain. Brain hemispheres are intriguing subjects for study and they can help us to understand how different cultures functioned, how some people can experience unusual perceptions from non-ordinary sources, and how each of us can develop our “clair” abilities although we exist in a Western culture dominated by left brain thinking. Clairvoyance- seeing- Clairaudience- hearing: Clairsentient – sensing- Claircognition- knowing Clair-Olfactory - smelling.

To better understand the right hemisphere, we might start by understanding modern industrial society’s obsessive dependence on left-brain thinking.

The left side of the brain processes information sequentially and is considered the source of analytical thought. This part of our brain recognizes parts that make up a whole and, in processing verbal information, recognizes that one stimulus comes from another and verbal perception and generation depends on the awareness of a sequence in which sounds or stimuli occur. In other words, it looks for an anticipated organization that “makes sense” in the way that we have been trained to think. A left-brain dominant individual might have trouble “making sense” of right-brain thinking.

How then does right-brain thinking occur? The right brain hemisphere specializes in combining the parts to produce a whole. Unlike the left, the right hemisphere organizes things simultaneously and perceives holistically. It specializes in a method of thought that recognizes and constructs patterns and is most efficient at visual and spatial processing. This is our source for processing non-verbal stimuli. Dreamers, artists, musicians, and visionaries are often right-brain dominant because, what left-brain thinkers see as “non-sense,” right-brain thinkers understand as an alternative way of “making sense.”

Modern Western societies, especially since the time of Isaac Newton and Rene Descartes, have developed a highly analytical and mechanistic approach to understanding the world and have sought a natural and rational explanation for existence that is highly dependent on observable and scientific phenomena that leaves little room for accepting the possibility of supernatural causality. Spirituality has a lesser status as such in left-brain dominant societies. Primitive (the term is used here to mean “first”) indigenous societies were far more developed in their ability to perceive with the right hemisphere of their brain and they understood the world intuitively and held a clear sense of the unity of all things. Where Western culture identifies man as seeking dominance and as being one part of the environment in which he exists, indigenous cultures perceive all existence as a unified whole in a universe of interdependence and constancy.

So now we return to the opening paragraph of this essay and the reference to clairvoyance. We often envision a clairvoyant as a psychic or fortuneteller or one able to see what is not naturally evidenced. However, in the same way that we all possess analytical skills that differ in degree from one person to another, we all also possess the potential for clairvoyant vision and spiritual insight. As one can develop one’s analytical skills through practice and mental exercise and thereby strengthen the functions of the left hemisphere of the brain, one can also cultivate the right hemisphere by deliberate attention to new realms of thought, such as visualization, shamanic journey and deep meditation. These latter developments are more difficult than the former because we live in a society that places a higher value on left-brain thinking and fails to see the true value of the richer states of thought that create seemingly impossible accomplishments and open the society to new and better futures. One might say that the effective use of the analytical side of the brain permits us to succeed in the day-to-day life of Western society while the right hemisphere provides the opportunity to create a new world that is limited only by our imagination and willingness to form new paradigms of existence. As quantum theory has replaced Newtonian Mechanics as a new understanding of existence and mechanistic images have been supplanted by an extraordinary unified theory of oneness, we have been placed at the threshold of a new age where conflict and a sense of helplessness are displaced by unbounded potential and cosmic harmony. To be truly participatory, we must hone our “clair” abilities by attending to our right-brain hemisphere. The difficulty in acquiring such second-“clair” powers is primarily a product of the indoctrination that we have allowed to dominate our culture, but the “clair” is accessible by everyone who chooses to remove the blinders of Western certitude and open one’s mind to infinitely greater possibilities.

The primary limitation of left-brain thinking is the failure to recognize that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The mechanistic paradigm that governs left-brain thinking sees the parts of a system as independent elements and assumes that the combination of the parts produces the whole. A living system paradigm, the source imagery of right brain thinking, understands the whole as the true nature of existence and the disassembly of the whole into imagined components actually causes the whole to disappear. An analogy for understanding this distinction might be to mentally picture two images—a clock and a human being. Imagine taking the clock apart and arraying the parts on a table. Your mind can effectively reconstruct the clock back into its original form and you can even understand this form from the parts that are in front of you. The cogs and wheels and dials, etc. have meaning as a clock even in their separation. Now consider a human being and what we determine to be the essence of a human being. Now mentally disassemble this human into its component parts—muscles, skin, organs, hair, etc. and mentally array the parts before you. We can recognize the parts but the sum of those parts do not represent or restore that which we understand as life. Emotional states, spiritual constructs, meaning and purpose, reverie and contemplation, etc. are the core components of life, not the aforementioned pieces of the body. The left hemisphere is very competent at understanding the parts of the body and can apply mechanistic thinking to providing shelter, medical attention, and social organization for people, but the right hemisphere offers expansive possibilities for growth, change, invention, and transitions inaccessible to the left hemisphere. One might say that the left brain allows you to survive while the right brain offers one the opportunity to thrive. We all strive to survive but we desire to thrive.

Vibrational energies that imbue our auras are present in all people regardless of whether they are left brain or right brain dominant. The difference for individuals lies in their awareness of and ability to influence the higher dimensional energies. The beginning of the ascension process is to develop the right hemisphere of the brain, which will provide a portal into these dimensions, and to continue the refinement of this deeper source of thought until one can begin to alter oneself and the universe in which we live. The other dimensions, seeing or experiencing spirits, the feelings of oneness and non-separation are all experiences of the right brain. Every small ripple of change from our personal efforts ripples out into a cataclysmic alteration of the cosmos because we are at one with the universe. If we create again a right brain dominant culture, our possibilities are infinite.

Author's Bio: 

Jan Engels-Smith is a graduate of the Foundation of Shamanic Studies and has trained with individual shamans. She has had a thriving shamanic practice since 1994. She has performed over 3,000 soul retrievals and viewed as an expert in her field. She is an author, Shamanic Practitioner, Reiki Master, a Licensed Professional Counselor, a Chemical Dependency Specialist, a Marriage and Family Counselor a Hypnotherapist and a Reconnection Healer.

Jan founded the LightSong School of Shamanic Studies, which has eight associate teachers and is the first of its kind to offer three accredited degrees in shamanism: Internship (IP), Licensed Master Practitioner (LMP) and Doctorate in Shamanism (ShD). You can learn more about these programs at

Jan also conducts individual and group healing seminars for intensive personal growth.
Her training and experiences have been extensive both in the traditional philosophies and metaphysical traditions. Her personal philosophy is to assist individuals in gaining their own personal empowerment, which will in turn, promotes self healing, better communities and a healthier world.

Contact Jan at or call 503-669-3013 (Portland, OR).

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