Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Are You in Your Right Mind?

Are you enjoying the summer rain?  Why not?  I know of someone who enjoys summer rain very much.  her name is Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

When Jill was thirty-seven, she suffered a massive hemmorage in her brain, that over the course of a few hours, drowned most of her left hemisphere in blood.  She lost her ability to speak and understand speech, to grasp the concept of time, to perceive the physical borders of her body, and most of her memories of who she was and her life up to that point.

She also lost: her brain chatter, her ego, her selfishness, her competitiveness, her sense of isolation, her fear, and her pain.

When her left brain shut up, she was left with peace.  When she no longer knew where her body ended, she felt at one with the universe.  When she no longer knew who she was or what she wanted, she was filled with love, and compassion for herself and all other beings.  When she lost track of linear thinking, she experienced each moment fully, with no connection to the past or the future.

Sound familiar?

Turns out Nirvana is as close as our right hemisphere.

And no, I'm not advocating everyone have a stroke.  Our left hemisphere, and even all that brain chatter that comes from our language center, is very useful.  I couldn't write this blog without my left hemisphere.  We wouldn't know  that our jeans have to go on before our underwear without our left hemispheres.  True story: the right hemisphere has no grasp of linear thinking or chronological relationships.

I am pointing out that in this culture we tend to be very left hemisphere dominant.  We're so concerned with who we are, and where we are on hundreds of different continuums.  We think logically, we put things in order, we plan for the future, and we remember the past.

All too often we care only about ourselves, not daring to reach out to others because we fear failure, we worry about the future, and ruminate about the past, we rerun old loops and memories, obsessively checking for patterns, trying to prevent bad things from happening in the future...

and surprise, surprise: it doesn't work.  Bad things happen anyway.

You don't have to do those things all the time.  You can choose to disengage your left hemisphere, and engage your right hemisphere.  You can choose to be present, you can choose to perceive how we are all connected, just a bunch of atoms loosely configured in different shapes.

Having a stroke that obliterates your left hemisphere is one way to cultivate a shift in how you think and function.  Meditation is another.  When we choose to stop focusing all our attention on our brain chatter in our left hemisphere, we open ourselves up to the softer perceptions of our right hemisphere.

There are other ways to affect this shift, too, and you can purposefully retrain your left hemisphere to not run negative loops ad naseum, too.  It's all in Jill's book:
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.
Seriously.  This is not a test.  Read it now.  The Brooklyn Public Library has copies, and probably most other libraries, too, it's for sale at Jaya Yoga Center (East Location), and of course, it's on Amazon.

Oh yeah, spoiler alert: over the course of years, Jill made a full recovery.  She wrote this book to share what she learned during and after her stroke with others.  Most compelling of all, she shares how tempting it was to NOT choose to recover, how beautiful and blissful it was to be only right-brained, experiencing only peace, joy, and love.  But how much cooler is it that she has access to those feelings all the time, and is still a freakin' brain scientist?  In fact, that might be the coolest part of the book: the fact that it's anatomically accounted for.  This isn't a spiritual book, it's just science, and these feelings of bliss are already inside your brain, just waiting to be tapped into, whether you believe in God, angels, Vishnu, Buddha, or just the brilliant world we've had the good fortune to evolve into.

Get it.  Read it.  Love how awesome you are.

Live Omily,
~em


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