What brings you comfort?

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.

Here is the link: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

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4 Responses to What brings you comfort?

  1. Patricia: Insightful piece of writing. The Book called, My Stroke Of Luck by Ms. Bolte is a fascinating read — I read it a number of years ago. Ms. Bolte is a PhD and after studying stroke victims for years, she experienced a devastating one at a very early age.

    Along similar lines, and equally interesting is another book that I highly recommend, which came out Christmas 2011 called, Thinking Fast, Slow by Daniel Kahneman.

    Nobel Prize winner in Economics Daniel Kahneman summarizes research that he conducted over decades, in collaboration with Amos Tversky. It covers all three phases of his career: his early days working on cognitive bias, his work on prospect theory, and his later work on happiness.

    “The book’s central thesis is a dichotomy between two modes of thought: System 1 is fast, instinctive and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. The book delineates cognitive biases associated with each type of thinking, starting with Kahneman’s own research on loss aversion. From framing choices to substitution, the book highlights several decades of academic research to suggest that we place too much confidence in human judgment.”

    Just a bit more to delve into, when you have a moment and are looking for another perspective.


    • patriciahung says:

      I always appreciate book recommendations! I’m a little late to the game with all this stuff, but loving the journey!!!

      • nugroho says:

        Thank you for that. Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight is one of the most incredible stiroes I’ve heard in a long time. Her TEDTalk video blew my mind wide open to new possibilities. On the one hand, there’s what she went through and how she emerged from it. On the other hand, there’s what she can teach all of us.I saw the 4 part Oprah interview on Oprah dot com Soul Series and I did learn a lot from that, but I’d like to find our more of how to do what Dr. Taylor did, without having a stroke of course!Thin how many of us are living too much in the head, and not the heart. And of course, you can’t get more left brain than a Harvard Brain Scientist. Isn’t it ironic that she should be the one to have the stroke and transform from the quintessential left brainer into this seen the light ” disciple of finding inner peace?I hope this movement keeps going. Maybe there will be My Stroke of Insight classes where we can practice what Jill Bolte Taylor is preaching.

    • Yukano says:

      I read My Stroke of Insight in one sitting I clodun’t put it down. I laughed. I cried. It was a fantastic book (I heard it’s a NYTimes Bestseller and I can see why!), but I also think it will be the start of a new, transformative Movement! No one wants to have a stroke as Jill Bolte Taylor did, but her experience can teach us all how to live better lives. Her TED.com speech was one of the most incredibly moving, stimulating, wonderful videos I’ve ever seen. Her Oprah Soul Series interviews were fascinating. They should make a movie of her life so everyone sees it. This is the Real Deal and gives me hope for humanity.

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