My Stroke of Insight

Jill Bolte Taylor recalls her experience in My Stroke of Insight.

My Stroke of Insight
When the stroke occurred, she was disconnected from her language center. This silenced her brain chatter.

This chatter reinforces our perception as separate individuals by asserting, "I am."

In this total silence, she became captivated by the magnificence of the energy around her. She felt no stress or emotional baggage and felt lighter in her body with a strong sense of peacefulness.

Jill Bolte Taylor experienced a constriction in her area of perception. As a result, she focused on her internal systems which seemed to be speaking as she walked, "OK, you muscles relax... and you contract."

Losing her balance, she propped against the bathroom wall. The molecules of her body seemed to merge with the wall. She couldn't tell where her arm ended and the wall began. There appeared to be no boundaries to her body. She felt enormous and expansive, at one with the energy all around.

A moment of clarity occurred as her left brain briefly went online, broke in and told her to get help. She repeatedly drifted out between her "la-la land" euphoria and the warning messages from her left brain. When her right arm went numb, she knew it was a stroke.

My Stroke of Insight - Reality Hits

After the "cool" factor wore off, she realized that she was a busy lady and didn't have time for a stroke. She knew she had to call her office, but couldn't remember the number. Digging through a stack of business cards, she found that she didn't recognize numbers or language. She could only see the pixels printed on the cards, rather than words or numbers.

45 minutes later, a wave of clarity hit her once again, and she was able to match the squiggles on the card to the squiggles on the phone. She tried several times to dial the number, but couldn't remember if she had already pressed the prior digit.

Eventually, she was able to dial the number, but couldn't understand her colleague on the phone. He sounded like a golden retriever. Clearly in her mind, she said, "This is Jill, I need help." But what came out of her mouth also resembled the noises a golden retriever would make.

A Moment of Transition

This colleague of Jill Bolte Taylor recognized that she needed help and called an ambulance.

Jill Bolte Taylor Stroke

On the way to the hospital, she felt her energy lift and her spirit surrender. She realized that she was no longer the choreographer of her life. Either the doctors would save her, or this would be her transition to the other side.

Having said goodbye to her life, she woke in the afternoon, shocked to find herself still alive. But, her mind was still suspended between two opposite realities. She could not identify the position of her body in space. She felt too large for her body, almost like a genie outside of it. Her spirit soared free through a silent euphoria.

Though she felt that she could never fit back into her body, she realized that she was still alive and that she had actually found nirvana. What she realized was that anyone can find nirvana, if you choose to find it. You must choose to step to the right of your left hemisphere.

Two and a half weeks after the hemorrhage, surgeons removed a blood clot the size of a golf ball which had been pushing on her left brain's language center.

It took her 8 years to recover completely.

Jill Bolte Taylor Stroke of Insight

Who are we?

In My Stroke of Insight, Taylor ponders this age-old question.

We are the life force power of the universe. With manual dexterity and two 2 cognitive minds.

Left vs Right Brain

When you step into your right brain, you have the power to choose, moment by moment who you want to be and how you want to be in the world. On this right side, you are at one - with all that is as well as all the molecular genes that make you up.

Step into your left brain, and you will discover that you are a single individual. Solid, separate from the flow and separate from you.

You can choose to experience nirvana and project this blissful peace into the world. Or, you can choose to let your left brain rule and operate as a separate entity, removed from the rest of the Universe.

These two sides comprise the "we" inside of you and me.

"I realized that the blessing I had received from this experience was the knowledge that deep internal peace is accessible to anyone at any time... 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.”
~Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

Which side do you choose?

Read My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey