For many reasons I am in love with my brain, your brain, the brain. Yet until recently, I’ve known next to nothing about the most phenomenal organ in my body. Thanks to Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, "My Stroke of Insight," I am on a new mission: Know thy brain. In doing so, I have a hunch that I will come to know myself at a deeper level. Have you read this book? If not, I highly recommend it. Your brain will thank you, just like mine did. Here’s a nutshell synopsis from Amazon:
On the morning of December 10, 1996, Jill Bolte Taylor, a 37-year-old Harvard-trained brain scientist, experienced a massive stroke when a blood vessel exploded in the left side of her brain. A neuroanatomist by profession, she observed her own mind completely deteriorate to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life, all within the space of four brief hours. As the damaged left side of her brain – the rational, grounded, detail-and time-oriented side – swung in and out of function, Taylor alternated between two distinct and opposite realties: the euphoric nirvana of the intuitive and kinesthetic right brain, in which she felt a sense of complete well-being and peace; and the logical, sequential left brain, which recognized Jill was having a stroke, and enabled her to seek help before she was lost completely. In "My Stroke of Insight," Taylor shares her unique perspective on the brain and its capacity for recovery, and the sense of omniscient understanding she gained from this unusual and inspiring voyage out of the abyss of a wounded brain.
It took Jill eight years to recover completely. How she did it and what she learned speaks to my healing journey. Not just because I have an incurable stage 4 canser, but because I am terminally human, totally complex, ever evolving, bursting with energy and “insight,” facing new struggles and triumphs just like, oh … 6.94 other billion people on the planet. When Jill lost her left logical brain, she found her right mind. The side of her brain that sees in pictures, feels at one with the universe and perceives this whole super disco as pure energy. When I was told that there’s no treatment, no cure and no hope for recovery, I too went into my right mind (though I am very grateful for how logical I remained, it helped me to make a brilliant, integrative, plant-based game plan). But it was my sense of wonder and flow that helped me think beyond science to fully understand energy, cellular integrity and my body's innate healing wisdom.
As I’ve said before, health is not the absence of disease; it’s the presence of vitality. Health is life force. I have it in spades. And here’s why: I’ve learned to protect and heal my energy. I’m turning 40 this year. And that number has me thinking about a lot of things. Mostly, I just decided to take a break … from my computer, from work and from my life as “Kris Carr: the this, that, and the other thing.” I’m back now, and I have to say, my time off was wicked fun. And I feel so totally renewed. I’ve laid off of TV (um, after thoroughly devouring 76 episodes of Battlestar Galactica and getting over my crush on Starbuck), been practicing yoga for 1-2 hrs daily (thank you Elena Brower and Tara Stiles) and have been building a serious EFT practice (thank you Nick Ortner) which has totally blown my mind – pun intended. I’ve also been mowing, riding tractors, building unicorn pavilions and hunting rainbows – all in a days work. Basically, I’ve been giving my brain a rest. And it’s been very enlightening. Here are a few more golden neuron nuggets from lovely Jill:
I highly recommend Jill’s Ted talk.
I’m also wildly inspired by what Oprah said about Jill during her final episode: "Dr. Taylor sent me a sign that I have hanging in my makeup room. It says, 'Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space.' And I ask the same thing in my home and at my companies. Thank you, Dr. Taylor, for that simple but powerful lesson. All life is energy and we are transmitting it at every moment. We are all beaming little signals like radio frequencies, and the world is responding in kind.”
Both Jill and I agree that our “illnesses” were the best thing that ever happened to us. Canser (spelled wrong, just because I feel like it) and other issues in my tissues have taught me more about livin’ than dying. So let me get to the point of this musing. Give yourself (and your brain) a break. Get out of the logic and into the expansiveness. In the stillness you know exactly what you need to recover. Yes, we are all recovering from something. The sooner you embrace it, the easier it will become. I sure hope I get to meet Jill someday. I sure hope I get to meet you, too.
Peace and plasticity,
Photo credit: ALA the American Library Association
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