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26 May 2009 @ 10:26 am
My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor  
I've just finished reading an interesting book, My Stroke of Insight (MSOI) by Jill Bolte Taylor. In 1996, Taylor experienced a massive stroke when an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a congenital brain condition, exploded in the left hemisphere of her brain. Taylor is a Harvard-trained brain scientist, so she was more intrigued than frightened by what was happening to her on the morning of stroke. (She points out that she was very fortunate not to have the amygdala implicated in the stroke, in which case thoughts and sensations of rage and fear would most likely have entered into the picture.) As it was, she managed to get help in time to save her life, after which she began an eight-year recovery period. She has regained most of the cognitive functioning that was compromised by the stroke, and has written this very interesting account of what it was like to experience life from a primarily right hemispheric perspective.

I read the book because I'm interested in the different cognitive capacities of the left and right brain. Just from popular science writing, many people understand that right-brain functioning is involved with imagery, intuition, and non-sequential, "big picture" thinking. Taylor characterizes right brain reality neatly as  "spontaneous, carefree, and imaginative" (30). Since right-brain intelligence does not recognize time or space (at least in the limited, sequential manner that left-brain intelligence does), it is also associated with heightened understanding of oneness among people, what Thich Nhat Hanh calls interbeing. So I'm intrigued by Taylor's account as both a teacher and seeker.

In the next few journal posts, I'll share passages from MSOI that I noticed while reading. 
 

 
 
 
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