"It was this incredible, seductive, magnificent experience of the present moment which was pure euphoria."
Imagine being completely focused on the activity of the right hemisphere of your brain, the side that relates to creativity and consciousness. This is what it feels like when you can shut off the left hemisphere, the analytical side, the hemisphere that controls speech and tends to dominate our existence.
The description is remarkable, because it's what happened to Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroscientist, as she was experiencing a stroke.
It happened in 1996, when a large clot disrupted the left side of her brain, leaving her severely incapacitated. After many years of therapy, Jill Bolte Taylor has returned to work and is reviewing what she learned during that experience. She has written a book called "Stroke of Insight" and was recently interviewed by Maclean's magazine (where her remarks quoted in this post originate).
The analysis of a stroke by someone who studies brain function offers a unique perspective, not only on how the body responds during such a traumatic injury, but also on the power of our often suppressed right-hemisphere brain functions.
Staying in touch with the right-brain means being able to tap into a deep reservoir of consciousness, of connecting to the universe at a different level. During her stroke, Bolte Taylor describes how she didn't feel fear, pain or worry; she no longer felt separate from her body: "...I was nothing more than cellular molecular life, if you will. When you stop and think about you as a living entity, a conglomeration of trillions of little cells, then you're very aware that you're 80 per cent fluid. I was a fluid in a very fluid environment. Everything was in motion."
She tells people that peace is within reach of everyone: "...I think both hemispheres are always functioning and deep inner peace is always present. It's always a choice. If' I'm attached to my drama, the pain in my past, and I'm not willing to put it aside, that's my left brain interfering with the purity of having that right-hemisphere consciousness."
These words echo those expressed by many ancient and modern philosophers. Bolte Taylor's insight provides some scientific support for them.
Her conversation with Maclean's magazine is a revealing read. The description of her stroke, as seen from her perspective is unique. You can find it here.
She has lectured also at various international conferences. You can watch her presentation at the prestigious TED conference.
Two related posts in this blog were "The present is the only thing that's real" and "Can humanity evolve to a new level of consciousness."