In an incredible twist of fate, a Harvard-trained brain researcher had a stroke and lost access to half of her brain. Being trained in brain science, she was able to reflect on what was happening and ended up surviving to share an incredible insight. What she learned is truly remarkable.
“At first I was shocked to find myself inside of a silent mind. But then I was immediately captivated by the magnificence of the energy around me. And because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there.”
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a published neuroanatomist and was able to experience what it meant to have access to only the right hemisphere of her brain.
Many years later, she shared her inspiring story and answer to the mystery of life on the TED stage, which has gone on to become one of the all time most viewed TED talks.
Here’s the talk which we recommend watching in full. If you don’t have time to watch, read on where we share the key points.
In this particular case, it was the state of being Bolte Taylor experienced when she suffered her stroke. Being a neuroanatomist she immediately realized what was happening to her, including that the stroke was affording her an incredible opportunity to study her own brain from the inside out.
Bolte Taylor’s stroke brought the different workings of the two sides of her brain into sharp focus, something that we don’t normally experience – (we never stop to think: now I’m using my right brain or now my left brain is taking over).
She describes the right hemisphere as having no language. It thinks in pictures. “It’s all about the right here, right now.” The left hemisphere thinks linearly and focuses on details, and it thinks in language. “It’s that ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world to my external world.”