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Thread: A Stroke of Insight

  1. #1

    A Stroke of Insight

    I am sure most of you have seen this TED talk about a neuroscientist's experience of her own brain haemorrhage and how she got to experience the separate hemispheres of her brain. Anyway, watching again this morning with two dharma friends I was struck by how much the brain hemispheres and the way they process reality correspond to absolute and relative reality.

    During her stroke, Jill lost touch with her rational, logical brain side and instead experienced reality directly and non-conceptually. She maintains that all of us have the ability to experience life in both ways and by getting more in touch with the absolute/right-brained part, we become more in touch with the whole picture, even if we are still reliant on conceptual thinking to function.

    Last edited by Kokuu; 11-09-2013 at 03:33 PM.

  2. #2
    Very cool Andy ... thanks for the share. The mind is like the universe ... vast as so unknown.


  3. #3
    Wow... never heard of Jill Roshi ....what a terrible and great experience.....thank you for sharing....but, if I ever gt into that state...I prefer the old, boring, zafu style

    Now, lets sit.

    Thank you for your practice

  4. #4
    Yes, an amazing story and a unique understanding as a neurologist. I recently heard a pair of interviews with here on two Public Radio science programs, Insight and Radiolab. She had something to say about what she recommends to folks as a daily Practice ...

    Taylor: Yea, it was really wonderful, you know we have these two very different hemispheres inside of our heads and they process information in totally different ways. In the right hemisphere thinks in pictures and it is all about the present moment. It is analyzing and perceiving all the information from our sensory systems and creating a big enormous collage of this present moment. And the existence of the present moment is beautiful, there’s no judgment there, it’s just it is. And when I lost the judgment and the critical analysis ability of my left hemisphere in that language structure and the ability to think linearly and sequentially and methodically and the make sense of the past and to project ideas into the future I lost the past, I lost the future I was given the present moment and for me it was a total experience of peacefulness and euphoria. And for me, so much of my motivation to recover and to reconnect with the external world is to help people recognize that they have this experience of deep inner peace right there in the right hemisphere its always there if you allow the left hemisphere verbiage system to shut down enough to allow you to come back to the present moment.


    Taylor: Yea, I think that it’s very important that we recognize that both hemispheres are always functioning and I kind of, I don’t know who it was someone famous said that the blue sky is always there, and to me the blue sky is the consciousness of the right hemisphere. And then the clouds come in which is the consciousness of the left hemisphere and the verbiage and it blocks our ability to see the blue sky but the blue sky is still always there. So I encourage people to pay attention to the two very distinctively different characters inside of your body. You always have the option, moment-by-moment, of saying in this moment I'm going sit back, I’m going to look at the world around me, I’m going to escape all the things that I’m thinking about and I’m just going to pay attention to how the air feels, the temperature of the air, my breath, pay attention to feeling it come in and go out, look at the colors in the field around me stop thinking and analyzing everything that’s going on inside of your left hemisphere, all the jargon. Then you can consciously choose to have that experience at any moment.

    Strainchamps: You make it sound so easy but I don’t think it’s that easy.

    Taylor: You have to be persistent. You know, I think that what I bring to this story that hasn’t been brought before is, through the eyes of a scientist, who specializes in the brain, we do have two very separate hemispheres and I think it’s a matter of recognizing we are biologically designed to have this experience of feeling at one with all that is and to be able to say, oh, all I’m doing is quieting a certain group of cells inside of my brain , you know judgment, that critical judgment not just of I’m wasting my time here, why am I sitting here doing this I’m just wasting my time and it’s like, yea that’s the point , the point is to allow yourself to get out of the fact that you think that you’re wasting your time.
    She said on Radiolab as she was in the hospital ICU ...

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: And I lost all my memories

    ROBERT KRULWICH: And yet she says sitting there and that's suddenly wordless space—

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: I had found a peace inside of myself that I had not known before. I had pure silence inside of my mind. Pure silence.

    JAD ABUMRAD: Pure silence

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: Pure Silence

    JAD ABUMRAD: What was—

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: You know, not that little voice that you know you wake up in the morning and the first thing your brain says it Oh man the sun is shining. Well imagining you don't hear that little voice that says man the sun is shining you just experience the sun and the shining.

    ROBERT KRULWICH: Is this the absence of reflection of any kind? Is it just sensual intake and “period?”

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: That is exactly what it was it was. It was all of the present moment.

    JAD ABUMRAD: Did you have thoughts?

    JTB: I had joy.

    (R. laughing.)

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: I just had joy. I had, I had this magnificent experience of I’m this collection of these beautiful cells. I am organic. I’m this, this organic entity.

    ROBERT KRULWICH: Did you have a dead head period by any chance?

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: You know why I missed that by a few years, but I get that a lot.

    ROBERT KRULWICH: And, and the other thing that she told us is that lying in that bed without words, she says she felt connected to things, to everything, in a way that she never had before.

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: Oh yeah I lost all definition of myself in relationship to everything in the external world.

    JAD ABUMRAD: You mean like he couldn't figure out where you ended.

    ROBERT KRULWICH: How much of that was about language. A little part? A lot? I mean.

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: Oh I would say it was huge. Language is an ongoing information processing it's that constant reminder. I am, this is my name, this is all the data related to me, these are my likes and my dislikes, these are my beliefs, I am an individual, I'm a single, I am a solid, I'm separate from you. This is my name…

    JAD ABUMRAD: Now as fruity as this may all sound to pin all this on language, we have run into this idea before. A couple seasons ago. Paul Brucks, remember him?

    ROBERT KRULWICH: Yeah sure.

    JAD ABUMRAD: Neuropsychologist.

    P: Well if you have to ask me about myself…

    JAD ABUMRAD: He told me that there's a theory out there, which he believes actually, that all a person is in the end. Like all the personhood of a person, the I or the you of a person all that is in the end is a…

    P: Story.

    JAD ABUMRAD: A story you tell yourself.

    P: What we normally think of when we think about ourselves. Is really a story; it's the story of what's happened to that body over time.

    JILL BOLTE TAYLOR: I did not have that portion of my language center that tells a story curious little Jill, me, Jill Bolte Taylor climbing the Harvard ladder, through language, loves dissection, cutting up things, that language was gone. I got to essentially become an infant (baby sounds) again.
    Yeah, yeah ... blue sky, clouds, past present and future, judgments, like and dislikes, names dropped away ...

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 11-10-2013 at 05:18 AM.

  5. #5
    Fascinating stuff. Thanks for posting.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Koshin View Post
    Wow... never heard of Jill Roshi ....what a terrible and great experience.....thank you for sharing....but, if I ever gt into that state...I prefer the old, boring, zafu style

    Now, lets sit.

    Nice one Koshin. Me too, I prefer to keep both hemispheres. Don't wanna wait for a stroke before I sit shikantaza.


  7. #7
    Remarkable lecture, thank you for sharing. I've had the book for a while but have not yet managed to read it.


  8. #8
    Hi y'all ...
    I recently picked this book up and made it through. Came to Treeleaf to search for her to see if any of you had come across this. I had watched the TED talk and some interviews, which lead me to the book. The book goes in to good detail on right vs left brain domination characteristics, the inner narrator chattering (and intention to quiet that), oneness with the universe, all sorts of things. Fascinating book. If you enjoyed the TED, please read the book, it's really fun and interesting. Kat did you get to read it?

    The final few chapters talk about monitoring your emotional responses, narrator, being present, etc.
    All familiar territory. But the twist is this told not from a contemplative background but a neuroanatomist observing her own brain from the inside out and the right/left differences to boot.

    Rodney SatToday

  9. #9
    Oh cool! Thanks for bringing this up, it looks fascinating.


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