One morning when she was 37 years old, Jill Bolte Taylor lost much of her mind. A malformed artery-vein junction in the left hemisphere of her brain burst open, flooding surrounding brain cells with blood that is toxic when not where it’s supposed to be.
Over the next few hours, as various left-hemisphere functions faded in and out and then shut down, it became quiet inside her head. No more chattering voice-of-me analyzing, judging, building anxiety, anger and fear. No more awareness, as well, of being separate. Just right-hemisphere peace and the bliss of being one with the energy of the universe.
However, Taylor was a PhD brain scientist, and she realized she was having a major stroke; bliss or no bliss, she was in serious difficulty. She managed to summon help—and then she spent the next eight years rebuilding her left-brain functions, including the “self” that had words and boundaries and could function in a world where past and future and other linear concepts matter.
She did quite a good job. In 2006, she published a book that became a bestseller, “My stroke of Insight.” In it, she offered hope and advice to stroke patients and their caregivers. However, she had a message for the rest of us, too: We can all get a taste of the bliss she experienced during her stroke by learning to “step to the right”—by choosing to cut off the negative chatter that our highly trained logical, analytical left hemispheres are so good at coming up with and accessing the deep peace that she says is the nature of the here-and-now, non-verbal right hemisphere. Continue reading