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April 23, 2009

Stroke of Genius

Quieting my mind for sleep always requires a bedtime book, and it’s typically a memoir or novel so I can fall into someone else’s story (real or otherwise). This week’s book is “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist who had a stroke at age 37 (spend an incredible 19 minutes with her at http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/229). The brilliant, highly analytical, hard-driving woman found euphoria, peace and wellbeing in the loving, in-the-moment presence of the right side of her brain. She even refers to these nirvana times as being in her “right mind.” In the 10 years spent painstaking redeveloping her brain circuitry and a healthy balance of her right and left hemispheres, Jill made conscious choices not to forge “automatic” pathways to the not-so-admired, ego-centered left-brain portions of one’s character—judging, mental obsessing, aggression, verbal abuse of self and others, etc. Jill’s experience taught her that she can choose to “step to the right” when she finds herself reacting to a situation with negative self-talk, a real waste of anyone’s time and energy. I realize that for many years I’ve been trying to “forge new pathways to my right hemisphere,” though I’ve never identified my actions in such a manner. Today I created a new visual: putting my left hemisphere on a yoga break and installing new file cabinets in the right. How blessed I am to skip the stroke and the decade of recovery. Will now keep vigilant watch on my brain’s automatic responses and my ability to build new pathways of choice.


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