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My Stroke of Insight

--by Jill Bolte Taylor (May 25, 2009)


One of the greatest lessons I learned was how to feel the physical component of emotion. Joy was a feeling in my body. Peace was a feeling in my body. I thought it was interesting that I could feel when a new emotion was triggered. I could feel new emotions flood through me and then release me. I had to learn new words to label these "feeling" experiences, and most remarkably, I learned that I had the power to choose whether to hook into a feeling and prolong its presence in my body, or just let it quickly flow right out of me.

I made my decisions based upon how things felt inside. There were certain emotions like anger, frustration, or fear that felt uncomfortable when they surged through my body. So I told my brain that I didn't like that feeling and didn't want to hook into those neural loops. I learned that I could use my left mind, through language, to talk directly to my brain and tell it what I wanted and what I didn't want. Upon this realization, I knew I would never return to the personality I had been before. I suddenly had much more to say about how I felt and for how long, and I was adamantly opposed to reactivating old painful emotional circuits.

Paying attention to what emotions feel like in my body has completely shaped my recovery. I spent eight years watching my mind analyze everything that was going on in my brain. Each day brought new challenges and insights. The more I recovered my old files, the more my old emotional baggage surfaced, and the more I needed to evaluate the usefulness of preserving its underlying neural circuitry.

Emotional healing was a tediously slow process but well worth the effort. As my left brain became stronger, it seemed natural for me to want to "blame" other people or external events for my feelings or circumstances. But realistically, I knew that no one had the power to make me feel anything, except for me and my brain. Nothing external to me had the power to take away my peace of heart and mind. That was completely up to me. I may not be in total control of what happens to my life, but I certainly am in charge of how I choose to perceive my experience.

--Jill Bolte Taylor, from "My Stroke of Insight" (more: video)


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9 Previous Reflections:

 
On May 26, 2016 jlmh wrote:

 Indulged myself  in Pity Parties for years  during my unhappy marriage, it wasn't until I stopped (or limited them)
that I could find and develop pleasant times and ways to cope.  Still married (54 Yrs)  May God Bless the marriages of today with   insight, patience  and humor.



On May 27, 2009 supun wrote:

I liked reading these findings by Drs Blair & Rita Justice from this dailygood article: http://www.dailygood.org/more.php?n=3641

Researchers have found that when we think about someone or something we really appreciate and experience the feeling that goes with the thought, the parasympathetic -- calming-branch of the autonomic nervous system -- is triggered.  

An example of practicing gratitude is volunteering to help others in return for having been helped. As an experience, it is felt in the same frontal regions of the brain that are activated by awe, wonder and transcendence.   


 



On May 27, 2009 Mulako Chisenga wrote:

This article is truly life changing. I totally agree that the whole healing process of our past hurts lies in us. I wish I got to learn this some time back, but it is never to late! I love it.



On May 26, 2009 Carolyn Moody wrote:

These paragraphs describe perfectly my journey of the last several years and my arrival at a place where I now teach this to others. I can't tell you how many of my students have exclaimed, "Why don't they teach us this stuff in school?!" Such important lessons for life that most of us only discover 'by accident'.



On May 26, 2009 Michael Nagler wrote:

This is valuable experience, but we must be aware that it is what Buddhists call vedana, sensation, and not the highest level of experience available to us.  That level is far above the body and is only realized when the body and its sensations subside to a degree.



On May 26, 2009 Rod Templin wrote:

Yes, Yes, Yes!

My first introduction to this notion that we choose our own responses to literally everything, was about 35 years ago in a wonderful little book by Ken Keyes called Handbook to Higher Consciousness. I still return to it's simple wisdom frequently.



On May 26, 2009 Nora wrote:

The irony of me receiving this today, I just completed this book over
the holiday weekend, it literally changed my life !!!!



On May 26, 2009 Barbara wrote:

This is one of the best insights I've ever seen. I love it.



On May 25, 2009 xiaoshan wrote:

This passage describes a simple yet powerful truth that can only be understood through personal experience.   See full.

This passage describes a simple yet powerful truth that can only be understood through personal experience. 

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