Feature

Author of the week

Jill Bolte Taylor

Brain expert Jill Bolte Taylor­­ is becoming a most unusual spiritual guru, said Leslie Kaufman in The New York Times. Recently named by Time as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, she was an obscure Harvard researcher until February, when she delivered a conference speech that quickly gained an Internet audience in the millions. The subject: Taylor’s 1996 stroke, and how it convinced her that nirvana resides in the right hemisphere of every human brain.

The stroke attacked her brain’s left hemisphere, temporarily robbing her of the ability to speak, walk, and even recognize her mother. It took her eight years to fully recover. But thanks to her expertise, said Kim Zetter in Wired.com, Taylor experienced the stroke itself “as if she were a curious explorer taking field notes.” She was amazed. “I felt like a genie liberated from its bottle,” she writes in My Stroke of Insight, a self-published memoir that has just been rereleased by Viking. The left hemisphere, she explains, is the part of the brain that says, “I am,” and it’s where worries reside. The right hemisphere is entirely focused on the present moment. “I felt at one with all the energy that was,” Taylor says, “and it was beautiful there.” She hopes that other people will learn to access that state without suffering a medical crisis. “There is no doubt,” she says, “that we can get there.”

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