Last week, the ABC news show Nightline featured a segment on Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained neuroanatomist who, at the age of 37, suffered a massive stroke when a blood vessel exploded in her brain. The hemorrhage occurred on the left side of her brain, almost completely incapacitating all of the cognitive functions which are housed in that hemisphere. In a period of four hours, this brain scientist watched herself deteriorate, losing all ability to talk, walk, and interpret the external world.
Without those functions, she became conscious of herself as expansive energy, something apart from her body and connected to all the energy in the universe. She was no longer the “I am” by which we typically define who we are, but of something much Greater. (Think SELF: the little “s” versus big “S”.) With her brain hemorrhaging and precious time passing, she found herself slipping back and forth between her awareness as a scientist of what was happening and her need to get help and this fascinating place she called “LaLa Land” that offered her great insight.
I simply cannot do the story justice, and thankfully do not have to. Dr. Jill Taylor detailed the experience and her subsequent six year recovery at a conference. The recorded 20 minute speech has been widely posted, becoming something of an internet phenomenon. As a student of the philosophies that inform Anusara yoga, I find her account to be a beautiful, concrete example of the metaphysical in the physical world. Dr. Taylor’s Stroke of Insight is truly a life-enhancing message that everyone should hear.
Dr. Taylor has also chronicled her story in the book: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey. She shares a fascinating exploration into the workings of the brain, detailing her inspirational recovery, and offering readers the wisdom gleaned from the (uncloaked) right hemisphere of her brain. Along with her incredible and thought-provoking story, Jill’s book provides helpful information for those recovering from a stroke and for their caregivers. I found her recovery list of “40 Things I Needed the Most” to be especially informative and applicable ~ not only for stroke survivors ~ but for those facing many life-altering injuries and conditions.
One final note, the website Ted.com is worth exploring further:
“TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The annual conference now brings together the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes) This site makes the best talks and performances from TED available to the public, for free.”
*You can learn more on this story from the 06/23/08 Nightline segment.
May we all have the insight needed to experience life so richly!