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Why Chaplains Should Always Look their Patients in the Left Eye 👁️

As a Clinical Pastoral Educator, I'm continuously exploring ways to deepen our connection with those we serve. A recent discussion between a neuroscientist, Dr. Tara Swart, and podcaster Steven Bartlett, sheds light on a simple, yet profound aspect of human connection - the power of eye contact, specifically, looking into someone's left eye.

The neuroscience behind this is fascinating. The conversation explains how, from infancy, our emotional resonance and social behaviors are significantly influenced by eye contact. For babies, this journey of emotional understanding begins with the right eye of the mother aligning with the baby's left eye, especially common as right-handed mothers often hold their baby in their left arm. This alignment is more than just a gaze; it's a gateway to deeper emotional connections.

This right-to-left eye contact activates the optic nerve and interacts with the amygdala, a crucial area for emotional processing in the brain. It forms what is described as an emotional resonance loop, essential in the bonding process.

As chaplains, understanding this could transform our pastoral care. When we consciously make eye contact with a patient's left eye, we may be tapping into a deeper level of emotional connection, akin to the bond shared between a mother and child. This practice isn't just about seeing, but truly connecting and resonating on an emotional level.

This approach could be particularly impactful in our ministry, allowing us to foster a sense of safety, understanding, and empathy. It's a reminder that sometimes, the simplest actions can hold the most profound impact on our ability to connect and provide comfort.


To learn more about this fascinating topic, check out this insightful video.



To learn even more buy Dr. Tara Swart's book, The Source.



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