Jill’s Stroke of Insight

“Although I experienced enormous grief for the death of my left hemisphere consciousness – and the woman I had been, I concurrently felt tremendous relief. That Dr Jill Bolte Taylor had grown up with lots of anger and a lifetime of emotional baggage that must have required a lot of energy to sustain.  She was passionate about her work and her advocacy.  She was intensely committed to living a dynamic life.  But despite her likable and perhaps even admirable characteristics, in my present form I had not inherited her fundamental hostility.  I had forgotten about my brother and his illness. I had forgotten about my parents and their divorce.  I had forgotten about my job and all the things in my life that brought me stress – and with this obliteration of memories, I felt both relief and joy.  I had spent a lifetime of 37 years being enthusiastically committed to “do-do-doing” lots of stuff and a very fast pace. On this special day, I learned the meaning of simply “being”.

When I lost my left hemisphere and its language centers, I also lost the clock that would break my moments into consecutive brief instances.  Instead of having my moments prematurely stunted, they became open-ended, and I felt no rush to do anything.  Like walking along the beach, or just hanging out in the beauty of nature, I shifted from the doing-consciousness of my left brain to the being-consciousness of my right brain.  I morphed from feeling small and isolated to feeling enormous and expansive.  I stopped thinking in language and shifted to taking new pictures of what was going on in the present moment.  I was not capable of deliberating about past or future-related ideas because those cells were incapacitated.  All I could perceive was right here, right now, and it was beautiful.

My entire self-concept shifted as I no longer perceived myself as a single, a solid, an entity with boundaries that separated me from the entities around me.  I understood that at the most elementary level, I am a fluid.  Of course I am a fluid!  Everything around us, about us, among us, within us, and between us is made up of atoms and molecules vibrating in space.  Although the ego center of our language center prefers defining our self as individual and solid, most of us are aware that we are made up of trillions of cells, gallons of water, and ultimately everything about us exists in a constant and dynamic state of activity.  My left hemisphere had been trained to perceive myself as a solid, separate from others.  Now, released from that restrictive circuitry, my right hemisphere relished in its attachment to the eternal flow.  I was no longer isolated and alone.  My soul was as big as the universe and frolicked with glee in a boundless sea …

…  My stroke of insight would be:  peace is only a thought away, and all we have to do to access it is silence the voice of our dominating left mind.”

∼  Jill Bolte Taylor, “My Stroke of Insight”

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