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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Right Hemisphere Shows Us the Light

They have been talking about her on TED and on Oprah. She's written a New York Times bestselling book ... My Stroke of Insight (read an excerpt of the book here). In 1996 Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist, suffered a stroke.

In the words of TED this was her experience: "One morning, a blood vessel in Jill Bolte Taylor's brain exploded. As a brain scientist, she realized she had a ringside seat to her own stroke. She watched as her brain functions shut down one by one: motion, speech, memory, self-awareness ...

Amazed to find herself alive, Taylor spent eight years recovering her ability to think, walk and talk. She has become a spokesperson for stroke recovery and for the possibility of coming back from brain injury stronger than before. In her case, although the stroke damaged the left side of her brain, her recovery unleashed a torrent of creative energy from her right."

But the most fascinating part of her voyage of discovery was something very different. View the 18-minute video of Dr. Bolte Taylor at TED or read more below.




If you experience any difficulty in viewing, please click here to view it directly at the website.

The truly fascinating part of her discovery had to do with something else. Amazon writes this:

"In My Stroke of Insight, Taylor shares her unique perspective on the brain and its capacity for recovery, and the sense of omniscient understanding she gained from this unusual and inspiring voyage out of the abyss of a wounded brain. It would take eight years for Taylor to heal completely. Because of her knowledge of how the brain works, her respect for the cells composing her human form, and most of all an amazing mother, Taylor completely repaired her mind and recalibrated her understanding of the world according to the insights gained from her right brain that morning of December 10th.

Today Taylor is convinced that the stroke was the best thing that could have happened to her. It has taught her that the feeling of nirvana is never more than a mere thought away. By stepping to the right of our left brains, we can all uncover the feelings of well-being and peace that are so often sidelined by our own brain chatter. A fascinating journey into the mechanics of the human mind, My Stroke of Insight is both a valuable recovery guide for anyone touched by a brain injury, and an emotionally stirring testimony that deep internal peace truly is accessible to anyone, at any time.

Read a brief interview with her on Amazon. This paragraph in particular, stands out:

"I learned that I have much more say about what goes on between my ears than I was ever taught and I believe that this is true for all of us. I used to understand that I had the ability to stop thinking about one thing by consciously choosing to preoccupy my mind with thinking about something else. But I had no idea that it only took 90 seconds for me to have an emotional circuit triggered, flush a physiological response through my body and then flush completely out of me. We can all learn that we can take full responsibility for what thoughts we are thinking and what emotional circuitry we are feeling. Knowing this and acting on this can lead us into feeling a wonderful sense of well-being and peacefulness."

View the interview Oprah did with Jill Bolte Taylor on her Soul Series here

Photo: Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

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