Nirvana on the brain

I love it when hard science backs up woo woo that would make my life so much easier if it were true. This time, it came in the form of a You Tube video about the nature of the brain that the plant man recommended. You can watch it here. 

Jill Bolte Taylor is an American neuroanatomist who incredibly, discovered a deep sense of inner peace when she had a stroke at the age of 37, which damaged the left ‘rational’ side of her brain, leaving the ‘intuitive’ right side running the show.

During her stroke, Jill couldn’t work out where she ended and other objects began. She felt part of all the energy that is and ever was. In fact, she felt so expansive, she wondered how she’d ever fit into a small human body again. She also knew without question that everyone and everything is connected.

She writes: “This stroke of insight has given me the priceless gift of knowing that deep inner peace is just a thought/feeling away. To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life. I believe that the feeling of deep inner peace is neurological circuitry located in our right brain.”

You don’t have to undergo a debilitating stroke to tap into the right brain bliss factory. Jill says that we can learn to access it and the more we do so, the more natural it becomes.

The key, as always, lies in the present moment. When you are in the now, you can exercise the right part of your brain. The thoughts about what’s for tea, whether you should call your mother and why on earth you keep reading all this weird hippy shit online are all a product of the left brain.

This is how Jill enables herself to experience the inner peace she discovered during her stroke:

  • Know that you are part of an eternal energy flow and cannot be separated from it.
  • Consciously slow down your mind. Bid the non-stop chatter in your head to stop, just for a bit while you are silent for a while.
  • Think about your breathing.
  • Think about your body. How does it feel? Are you hungry? Does anything ache? How are you sitting?
  • Soften your jaw, release tension from your shoulders and unfurrow your brow.
  • Observe your senses closely. Pay attention to the tastes and textures of different foods. Use your nose. When a smell wafts past, spend time trying to identify it. Let  scents bring you into the here and now. Let your eyes relax and take everything in. Let sounds move you emotionally and physically – dance or sway and let your body get caught up in music. Think about your skin. What texture is your clothing? What can you feel? Is it hot or cold?
  • Take a shower – it’s a great way to jolt you back into the present moment.
  • Have a massage, it will relieve tension and help the fluids in your body to move and do their job.
  • Remember that you are an energy being and become aware of your own energy. Can you sense the mood of a room when you walk in? How do other people make you feel energetically? Listen to your body and trust your instincts.
  • Know that everyone and everything is connected. Send good vibrations to those you love.
  • Consciously release tense muscles.
  • Take up some form of exercise that will help shift your mind –  yoga, Tai Chi or Feldenkrais for example.
  • Walk in nature, sing, create and get lost in music.
  • Use a mantra to quiet the chattering left part of your brain. Breathe deeply and repeat it.
  • Jill loves vocal tuning with singing bowls.
  • She also draws Angel Cards several times a day to help her stay focused.

If like me, you have a left brain that feels as if it’s on speed, don’t give yourself a hard time. I see that it takes practice to reach the inner peace that Jill is talking about. I myself found it for the first time during a silent retreat. I know it is in there somewhere, but I can’t always access it. Smells help me enormously, especially at this time of year when the scent of blossom is thick in the air. Birdsong also helps to anchor me in the present moment, but there are times when the yada, yada, yada of my mind simply will not stop. Even with gin.

You can read about Jill’s stroke experience and what she learned from it in her book My Stroke Of Insight . I can thoroughly recommend it as it’s a fascinating read – the perfect blend of hard science and comforting truths about the nature of reality.

Before I go, it strikes me that the right book, video and message always comes to me just when I need it. Rarely do I drum my fingers and wonder ‘What shall I learn next?’ as there is always a teacher in my midst offering me new insights. Today the plant man suggested a video interview with Russell Targ, but I’ll leave that for another day. If you do have some spare time on your hands, try his iPhone app ESP trainer. According to this simple game, I am so psychic, it’s a wonder I haven’t won the lottery!


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