Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist and neuralanotamist. She spends her time studying the brain, mapping micro-circuitry of the brain. One morning she woke up to a peculiar pain behind her left eye. She did not realize at that time that she was experiencing a stroke in the left side of the brain that was getting progressively worse. She clambered onto her exercise machine hoping that the pain would go away as she exercised. As the stroke progressed her experience shifted and instead of experiencing herself as being on this machine she experienced herself as a witness that was having this experience on the machine.
The left hemisphere of the brain is a serial processor that is charged with taking the collage of experience of the right hemisphere and creating out of it a sequence in time. It maps the inputs from the right hemisphere to our prior experience and then projects these into the future. The left hemisphere is the thinking, analytic part of our cognitive experience. It is responsible for our thoughts and the chatter inside our brain. The right hemisphere on the other hand is like a parallel processor. It lives in the present moment rather than arranging things sequentially. The cognitive power of the right hemisphere takes the sensory input of sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch and creates a beautiful, wonderful and expansive sensory collage in our brain.
As the stroke progressed, at one moment, Jill found that suddenly the chatter emanating from her left-brain went silent. “It was as if suddenly someone had pressed a mute button and I found myself in a silent mind,” she says. Immediately she felt captured by the energy around her. “Because I could no longer identify the boundary around me, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt one with all energy and it was beautiful there!”
Even as her stroke progressed she found “moments of clarity” when her left-brain sporadically came back online. Somehow she summoned help and was taken to a hospital. When she recovered consciousness, following surgery, her left-brain was not functioning normally and she had a two-fold experience. At one level she found it painful to deal with the constant flow of sensory input flowing into her left-brain. On the other hand she felt unbound and free and her spirit soared like a giant whale swimming in an ocean of consciousness. “I felt like Nirvana! And I could not comprehend how I would ever be able to squeeze the enormity of my experience back into my tiny little body!”
“Who are we?” Jill asks. “We are the life power of the Universe!” She responds to her own question with a voice quivering in emotion. “At any given moment, I have a choice. Either to be with my right hemisphere, and be one with the 50 trillion molecular geniuses (my cells) that make up my form, and also be one with all there is. Or I can be with my left hemisphere, and be separate from the flow and become Jill Bolte Taylor.”
“Which one should I choose? Which one would you choose?” She asks. “I feel that the more time we spend with the right hemisphere the more peaceful we will be and the more peace we will project out into the world. And this is the stroke of insight I want to share with you and this world!”