Harvard-Trained Brain Researcher Says a Stroke Showed Her the Answers to the Mystery of Life

It sounds like the start of a bad joke: So a Harvard brain researcher has a stroke…


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The punchline on this one is amazing, though: As she lost access to half of her brain, she was able to contemplate what was happening and share her incredible, remarkable insight.


Doctor Jill Bolte Taylor, a respected neuroanatomist, had a genuine experience of what it was like to only access the right hemisphere of her brain. Later, she went on to share her story in a TED talk, which has become one of the most-watched TED talks of all time. Watch it in full here, or if you don’t have time check out our breakdown of the key points following the video:



Quoting Dr. Taylor: “We are energy-beings connected to one another through the consciousness of our right hemispheres as one human family. And right here, right now, we are brothers and sisters on this planet, here to make the world a better place. And in this moment we are perfect, we are whole and we are beautiful.”


Eastern religion and Christian mysticism have been commenting on this sort of realization for centuries. In Doctor Bolte’s case, she began to experience this sort of integrated reality as a result of her stroke. As a neuroanatomist, she immediately realized what was occurring in her body and mind; and, more so, understood the importance of the opportunity she had been afforded by her stroke.


Taylor’s stroke gave her a new outlook on the workings of the two parts of her brain. Us everyday people don’t quite think of this on a daily basis — which makes her observation all the more amazing.


Taylor describes her experience of the right hemisphere as having no language; it thinks only in pictures. “It’s all about the right here, right now”, says Taylor. Whereas the left brain thinks in language, quoting Taylor: “It’s that ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world to my external world.”


As she first experienced her stroke, her left and right brains dominated her awareness in turns. As her left brain warned her of needing help, her right brain continued to reassure her — that everything would be okay, and she could experience genuine bliss.


At some point, her chatter quieted: “At first I was shocked to find myself inside of a silent mind. But then I was immediately captivated by the magnificence of the energy around me. And because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there.”


Compared to the left brain, this was a tremendous relief. “And as soon as my left hemisphere says to me ‘I am,’ I become separate. I become a single solid individual, separate from the energy flow around me and separate from you.”


As she lost the portion of her brain that focused on details and separateness, she gained an awareness of the totality of her experience.


Being a brain scientist, able to articulate her experiences on the matter eloquently, Doctor Taylor has this to conclude: “So who are we? We are the life-force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds. And we have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world.”


So, we all have the choice: The peace of our right hemisphere, or the detail of our left?


Source : thepowerofideas.ideapod.com, ewao.com