My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey

AUTHOR: Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

PUBLISHED: 2006

MY COMMENTS:

This is a book with profoundly important insights that can help make life easier and more joyful. 

This book recounts the experience of Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard-trained brain scientist, having a massive stroke in the left side of her brain. 

Within four hours, she couldn’t walk, talk, read, write or remember anything … she was as a newborn babe.  It took her eight years, but against all odds, she fully recovered.

I first read this book in 2011 and it spoke directly to me.  As someone with a strong left-brained, analytical orientation … still looking to science for credible explanations … this book delivered.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s life completely changed as a result of her stroke.  While her recounting of what happened, and how she recovered, is quite fascinating, what I found truly valuable were the insights she gleaned as a result … which she recounts in the later chapters.

Limited to only her right-brain function, without the filtering mechanisms of the left brain, Jill Bolte Taylor discovered and experienced her connection to “oneness” … to the Universe.

And with it, she realized our natural state is one of deep inner peace and joy.  She describes why it is we deviate from this … and how to return to it whenever we wish.

She reveals that we actually have control over the state of mind we choose to experience … Did you know that the emotions that arise within us require only ninety seconds to be fully processed physiologically?   

This is the time needed for the brain to release chemicals in response to the emotion just triggered, and for those chemicals to course through the blood.  And then disappear.  Ninety seconds ….

Wow!  Think about this for a moment.  Many believe we can’t control our emotions … that when we feel an emotion welling up, we are powerless to change it. 

True … but only for ninety seconds

After that, it’s our choice as to whether we hang on to it ….  

And, in fact, we may choose to hold onto it … for whatever reasons we may have.  But the important point is that the power rests within us to make this decision … whichever way we choose to make it.

This was a life-changing learning for me … one that I continue to draw on today to make my life easier and more joyful

Now, when a negative emotion is triggered within me … and it’s sticking around … I remind myself of the “Ninety-Second Rule.”  This forces me to realize that what comes next is my own decision …

Do I stay mired in these feelings awhile?  (And sometimes I do!)

Or do I tell my left brain to lighten up and get back into joy?

Usually not a tough choice!


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