Thursday, September 30, 2010


I am a little over half way through my latest book, My Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, and one of her realizations on recovery hit the spot on an issue I have been thinking about for some time.  I have heard this type of speak before, but always in a very metaphoric, fantastic sort of way (read: hippie-speak) and never from a scientific point of view.  So I thought I would share an excerpt from her book.

A very brief synopsis: Dr. Taylor is a neuroanatomist (brain doctor) who experienced first-hand what a failing brain feels like, living to tell the experiences of her stroke and how she recovered.  Here she speaks of recovery after losing her left brain functions (calculation, past/future, details, "brain chatter").

"One of the greatest lessons I learned was how to feel the physical component of emotion.  Joy was a feeling in my body.  Peace was a feeling in my body.  I thought it was interesting that I could feel when a new emotion was triggered.  I could feel new emotions flood through me and then release me.  I had to learn new words to label these "feeling" experiences, and most remarkably, I learned that I had the power to choose whether to hook into a feeling and prolong it in my body, or just let it quickly flow right out of me.
I made my decisions based upon how things felt inside.  There were certain emotions like anger, frustration or fear that felt uncomfortable when they surged through my body.  So I told my brain that I didn't like that feeling and didn't want to hook into those neural loops.  I learned that I could use my left mind, through language, to talk directly to my brain and tell it what I wanted and what I didn't want.  Upon this realization, I knew I would never return to the personality I had before.  I suddenly had much more say about how I felt and for how long, and I was adamantly opposed to reactivating old painful emotional circuits.
Emotional healing was a tediously slow process but well worth the effort.  As my left brain became stronger, it seemed natural for me to want to "blame" other people or external events for my feelings or circumstances.  But realistically, I knew that no one had the power to make me feel anything, except for me and my brain.  Nothing external to me had the power to take away my peace of heart and mind.  That was completely up to me.  I may not be in total control of what happens to my life, but I certainly am in charge of how I choose to perceive my experience."
- Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., My Stroke of Insight, (p.120-1)

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