The knowledge a Harvard-trained brain researcher gained after her stroke and the loss of access to the half of the brain is nowadays an inspiring story that answers multiple questions related to life itself.
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor was trained in brain science, being a published neuroanatomist, so she could reflect on what happened to her and experience using the right brain hemisphere only.
After many years, she decided to share her experience and solve the mystery of life on the TED stage, and this became one of the most popular TED talks of all times.
“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.”
This resembles the state of consciousness depicted by mystics of all world religions. When she suffered the stroke, she experienced this state, and realized that she has been given the unique chance to study her own brain from the inside out.
As she described it, the right hemisphere has no language and thinks in pictures. “It’s all about the right here, right now”, while the left one thinks in language and is concentrated on details: “It’s that ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world to my external world.”
When she suffered the stroke, the hemispheres alternately dominated her awareness, and after a while, she felt light and calm.
At one point the chatter in her head went silent.
“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.”
The left brain, on the contrary, worked differently:
“It’s that calculating intelligence that reminds me when I have to do my laundry. But perhaps most important, it’s that little voice that says to me, ‘I am. I am.’”
“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.”
This part was lost on the morning of the stroke. After 8 years, she was completely recovered and she decided to share her experience:
“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.”
We all need to decide: Will we allow the left hemisphere to separate us, or let the right hemisphere provide the deep inner peace?