I seem to be hooked on “ted.com”, an internet site where fascinating people give short speeches about topics they consider to be important messages to share with the rest of us. Most of these speakers are far more intellectual than I’ll ever be, and for that reason, I’m even more interested.
The most recent speech I listened to was by Jill Bolte Taylor. Now Ms. Taylor is a neuroscientist, fantastically brilliant, and equally passionate about the topic in her speech. I have since learned that Taylor was on Oprah and maybe most of you know who she is, but because I never watched Oprah, her story was new to me.
Regardless, Taylor suffered a stroke, and over four hours, witnessed the changes in her mind/body, and then spent the next eight years working toward full recovery. The fact that she fought back and managed an amazing recovery was miracle enough, but it was actually something else in her speech that brings me comfort.
Just as an aside, if you’ve ever suffered from an acute migraine headache—not one that lasts for days, but rather one that’s preceded by an aura—you might also find her experience interesting because some of it is very similar to a migraine aura and subsequent pain. But I digress.
Taylor gives a very brief explanation of how the two sides of the brain function. Among other things, the left is our internal voice, reminding us to pick up groceries, keep an appointment at a certain hour etc… Here is what forms our individuality, as in “I am”. The right side is what connects us to each other. We are, as she explains, made up of energy, as is everything else, and our right brain is connected to that.
When Taylor lost the ability to use the left side of her brain, due to a blood clot the size of a golf ball pressing on her left hemisphere, she was instantly connected with only the right side. All the internal chatter was gone. She was in complete silence. She was unable to discern where her body began and the rest of her surroundings started because she saw only energy. She was expansive and enormous and in a place where everyone and everything was connected, utter euphoria – as in, “we are”.
It was this that brought me comfort.
Meditation, if any one has tried it, is extremely difficult – at least for me. Trying to quiet my mind is like asking for a modern miracle, and trust me when I say I’ve tried. But those who can quiet their minds and access the right hemispheres of their brains profess to have found nirvana, as Ms. Taylor did. There is an inner knowing, a deep peace, a connection to all that is, all that has gone before and all that is to come—proof that we are all one.
I’m not exactly sure why this brings me such comfort. Probably it’s because it affirms my belief system. Learning from others, who to me are brilliant, rational, intelligent people—not just “nut jobs” in other words—lends credence to my hope for the future.
I hope that, as humans, we can all learn to access that side of ourselves, that which is so much greater than our individualism, and move forward knowing we are so much greater than our bodies.
I encourage you all to watch the speech by Jill Bolte Taylor and see if it brings you some comfort too.