Monday, October 27, 2008

"My Stroke of Insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor

I guess I have a special interest in this book since I saw Jill Bolte Taylor on the Oprah Show when I was in the audience. All attendees received Jill's book, and I read it quickly. She has an amazing story. As a 37-year-old Harvard brain scientist, she experiences a massive hemmorage on the left side of her brain. Instead of experiencing panic, she finds it to be very "cool" (her words) to be able to experience something that she has studied all her life. She loses all ability to walk, talk, recognize people...she becomes "an infant in a woman's body". It takes her nearly eight years to recover all her faculties, but comes out at the end of the rehabilitation a changed person (no doubt, right?). But in ways you wouldn't imagine.

While her left brain was not operational, she was able to fully concentrate on what the right brain had to say. She had a sense of oneness with the world. She was peaceful, without the negative "chatter" you get from the left side of the brain. She was free of her emotional baggage! And although she didn't understand language at the earlier stages of recovery, she recognized a person that was a safe haven, and she could tell when someone was lying. Because her right brain was so euphoric, she had to be convinced to come out of herself, back into the world. It was so much work for her to do this, she would only respond to those who treated her like a human being, not a blob. She would work hard for the doctors and nurses that would hold eye contact and would touch her. She would shut down on those that did not. Now, when she is fully recovered, she is using her learnings to lead a more peaceful life, living in the now.

I sort of had an "ah-ha" while listening to Jill speak. First and foremost, for anyone who has had an acquaintance with a brain deficiency (stroke, accident, Alzheimer's), it is enlightening to know that in some instances these people are in there and aware of what is going on. I've now heard it from one who has been there. And secondly, any of us can choose to be more aware of the part our left and right brains play in how we act and what we do. It is a choice to which side we listen to.

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