One morning in 1996, a blood vessel in Jill Bolte Taylor's brain exploded. Within moments, her left lobe--the source of ego, analysis, judgement and context--began to fail her. And much to her shock, the Harvard-trained brain scientist felt great. She'd been given a ringside seat to her own stroke, and a host of powerful insights as a result. As Taylor shared with the audience at a recent TED conference, "I believe the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, the more peaceful our planet will be." Or as she put it another way to The New York Times last week, "Nirvana exists right now."

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  • L Jonsen

    Dear Jill, as a survivor of an almost identical stroke, I share your exact experience, and I was the same age as you were. It was an eight year recovery for me as well before I felt I was "back to the day" previous to my stroke. My stroke took place in 1986, but had no operation as you did, the egg sized "dead space" remains in it's place. I had the same right brain Nirvana experience and was feeling the peace as you described it. I had sort of an out-of-body thing going. Although I was clinically dead or nearly so, I was "able" to know everything going on in the emergency room, "see" what was going on and "help" them know that I was "there". Ha! Not so much. I was sort of angry with the medical team that kept "pestering" me by calling out "Mrs Peterson" - no one ever referred to me that way, so I kept wondering just WHO they wanted and as I finally surfaced to the left brain world I told the Doctor to "quit yelling" - although, I didn't know I couldn't speak and it took some time to formulate those two words. He smiled a big smile and I'm sure I was forgiven for being so rude. At that moment I felt reluctant to leave the peaceful warm and loving cocoon of Nirvana. As you spoke of in your video, how peaceful it was to be released from my 36 years of baggage that drags you down. I reflected later that it is a place I strive to be in more often - even after nearly 30 years has passed since that day that changed everything forever. Thank you for sharing and so eloquently putting "our" experiences to word and video. I've never found anyone else that I could so easily relate this stroke experience to. People I've tried sharing this with (even doctors) will look at me as if I have told them something that can't have happened since there is no outward signs of ever having a stroke. I was released from the hospital one month after the incidence and proceeded to create my own recovery program - I sold my businesses, and started going to the shopping mall to learn how to do everyday things like: noticing that others parked a car in a specific space in a parking lot and imitating that, ride an escalator, open doors to a store, which way will they open - and the small details to know the difference, how to purchase something with cash money or credit card, or simply that items in a store must be purchased not just taken, etc. Your description of a telephone key pad and business card was spot on. With a right side that refused to cooperate to my standards (who knew what a standard was, but being of Norwegian/German/Irish decent, I was stubborn enough to not accept what was then considered adequate to live a "normal" life- even after 6 weeks of out-patient therapy. The beauty of having "lost everything", I also lost inhibitions to try things that in my former life, I would "calculate" the difficulty and start logically with simple and move to difficult. I first decided that learning to knit would be a good thing - I had no prior experience with knitting, but my mother was a knitter so I started with a pair of mittens and immediately went on to knit a complex Norwegian color pattern sweater - unaware that this was considered advanced in the world of knitting. Knitting is creative, detailed, requires logic, challenging and is repetitive enough to meet the requirement for relearning those things I lost that morning. Repeating this pattern of achievement to reach my goal, and the right leg was still not cooperative enough for me, I took up Scandinavian folk dancing. The exacting dance steps/skills required to do this type of dancing was a perfect solution to the problem, and it was excellent exercise. In general, I noticed that anything I needed to learn that I had previously known, took about 3 experiences to get to be something I could recall - sometimes more experiences were needed. Once again, Jill, thank you for all you have done. God speed.

  • Naldus

    Reminds me of Richard Pryor and his experiences ;)

  • shoshana

    Bless you Jill for sharing your life changing experience. I had a wonderful experience last year. I would like to share with you. I sat down in a chair to watch a video on my lap top. I put my legs on the bed and started to watch the video. I noticed a slight change in my perception, nothing seemed real at that present moment in time, hard to put into words. I suddenly looked at my feet and thought to myself who's feet am I looking at, I did not recognize the feet and legs as mine.They did not feel part of this body My awareness did not seem to be in my body, it was encompassing the whole room. It was a blissful experience. Over the past year I have very much been observing which side of the brain I am in at any given time, as I know I used to live in the left side to much. It is truly divine when I am in the right side, I am much more at peace within. Of late I have noticed the earths energy very strong at dusk. I feel my whole body vibrating with this energy, I can see it rising from the earth, and from my own form. It is the most awesome feeling of such amazing Love, I feel my form could dissolve completely in this energy. Eternal Love Shoshana

  • shoshana

    Bless you Jill for sharing your life changing experience. I had a wonderful experience last year. I would like to share with you. I sat down in a chair to watch a video on my lap top. I put my legs on the bed and started to watch the video. I noticed a slight change in my perception, nothing seemed real at that present moment in time, hard to put into words. I suddenly looked at my feet and thought to myself who's feet am I looking at, I did not recognize the feet and legs as mine.They did not feel part of this body My awareness did not seem to be in my body, it was encompassing the whole room. It was a blissful experience. Over the past year I have very much been observing which side of the brain I am in at any given time, as I know I used to live in the left side to much. It is truly divine when I am in the right side, I am much more at peace within. Of late I have noticed the earths energy very strong at dusk. I feel my whole body vibrating with this energy, I can see it rising from the earth, and from my own form. It is the most awesome feeling of such amazing Love, I feel my form could dissolve completely in this energy. Eternal Love Shoshana

  • Stacey

    I was amazed how Jill's experience of a stroke ties in so directly with the experiences of those who meditate on a consistent basis. As she stated ""I believe the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, the more peaceful our planet will be." It seems strengthening our right hemispheres through a meditation practice correlateds with creating more peace for oneself and everyone. Thank you Jill for sharing your wonderful, courageous insights from what must have been a very difficult time!

  • Patricia

    Dear Jill, Amazing information. It's another part of the puzzle of who we are! Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • Linda

    Jill your insight was your gift to share, thank you for reminding us of how our body mind and spirit are one with each other.

  • Page 1

  • Jill's stroke eliminated most of her left brain functions, including math and language. Read about how she used her right brain abilities to drive her rehabilitation.

  • The brain is one of the most complex and magical parts of the human body. Learn more about it.

  • Approach a challenge in your life with a set of skills, abilities, or perspectives that you're not used to--and see what happens.

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