Jill Bolte Taylor’s Ted Talk video is inspiring and illuminating. It reminds me of a book written by Dr. Eben Alexander, a brain surgeon who falls quite suddenly ill with meningitis and ends up in a coma. Both of these extraordinary people are fortunate to be alive, but offer a rare and extremely valuable insiders take on a stroke and a coma, being in the unique position to understand exactly what it is that is happening to their bodies, and minds.
Bolte Taylor’s recount of that fateful morning is presented in a very accessible way given her obviously extensive knowledge of the subject and process. She explains step-by-step her symptoms and thoughts as she endured a severe stroke. She expresses experiencing the logical part of her brain shutting down, to the point where she can no longer discern shapes, or her own body. At one point she falls against the bathroom wall and is unable to tell her own arm from it. Her perception of the world around her continues to evolve until she is experiencing things only as masses of energy. While this presents an image that is disorienting and somewhat terrifying, Bolte Taylor becomes emotional as she recounts that it was an incredibly moving and energizing experience. She speaks as though she is fortunate to have experienced the world in this way, because it gave her a completely new way to understand her world.
This video and experience speak also to cultural norms and constructs. While our own personal and cultural approaches to our surroundings are less extreme in variation, it holds true that no two individuals will see something in exactly the same way, or know something in the same manner. While we may not be able to access the part of our brain that took over for Bolte Taylor in the throes of a stroke, we can make a conscious decision to periodically take a fresh approach to things, to look at them in a new light, from a new perspective.
There also seems to be a somewhat spiritual component to Jill Bolte Taylors experience and presentation. She is clearly emotional and speaks of feeling immense love and peace in her energy-sensing state. While it is easy to dismiss things that seem other-worldly or illogical in the face of Science (which Jill specializes in), perhaps this video serves too as encouragement to keep an open mind, not to be so quick to dismiss things that fall beyond our current sensory spectrum.