Mar 16

Jimmy Guterman

Jimmy Guterman

Jill Bolte Taylor's amazing TED talk

At least three of this year's TED talks were flat-out amazing: Tod Machover's, Benjamin Zander's, and Jill Bolte Taylor's. The first of them has just been posted:

Jill Bolte Taylor, a Harvard neuroanatomist, eavesdropped on her own stroke. As I wrote the day of her talk, she walked us through what she felt and thought while her brain was going wild, from the borderline-metaphysical ("I can't define where I begin and where I end") to the borderline-hilarious ("I'm a busy woman. I don't have time for a stoke"). Her description of her time in that strange state, caught between two worlds, the rare researcher who has been able to chronicle a brain-changing event from the inside, was astonishing.

And now you can see and hear it, too:

The brain she's holding there is a real one, by the way.

We'll alert you to the other two classics when they're published.

tags: biology, thought provoking, videos  | comments: 23   | Sphere It

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Comments: 23

  Brooks Jordan [03.16.08 08:59 PM]

That was absolutely amazing. Thanks for sharing. I've passed it on.

  Sans S [03.17.08 09:06 AM]

That was incredible. Ms Taylor provides so much insight and opens up so many more questions. For starters: What is choosing? Is choosing is an emotion artifact? Then; where is emotion manifested or processed? It suggests an inherent collaborative being or episode.
Lovely reflection, insights AND spirit.

  Kundan Ewan [03.17.08 04:03 PM]

Fantastic! Thank you so much. How long will this be available for viewing? Is it possible to download?

  Johnny Pink [03.19.08 12:27 AM]

Beyond the edges of us there is a space that calls. A space where no thing is separate of the one thing and where all things exist in the one moment. This is the place of awareness where all cultures seek to find our one true connection.

Could this be the edge of all questions and answers? Is this the rare knowledge that elusive mysterious held to gift that only a few masters found? Can this be the place that the disciples huddle together and share reverend whispers about?

How cool how brave how fortunate how awsome how inspiring to have it shared in such a way for us all to equally experience.. Jill Bolte Taylor you are a true gift your enthusiasm a joy .. your discovery takes a person both within and without your find it is ......... a real treasure

  yasmin Quartermaine [03.20.08 04:35 AM]

Awsome... Jill Bolte Taylor has my full attention.. i have passed this on to many. How can I view more of her story.. I am truly on the edge of my seat!

  hipmonkey [03.23.08 11:17 AM]

Video isn't working:(

  Nousha [03.27.08 03:10 PM]

WOW, Thank you, Thank you and Thank you. I am in tears, what an amazing lady. With all respect!

  Janet Cameron [03.28.08 10:53 AM]

Amazing experience, amazing woman! Truly inspiring! Jill Bolte Taylor is a gifted enthusiatic speaker and I too have passed this on and would love to see more of her story.

  wiseblueeyes [04.01.08 09:45 AM]

Very informative. send more. Thanks.

  karen stevens [04.04.08 11:22 AM]

I have just finished watching this amazing woman. Today is the one anniversary of my father's death and tomorrow my mother's. My mother had a stroke 9 years ago and my father 2 years ago. They died 14 hours apart. What interesting insight. After my mother had been in a coma for many weeks she suddenly looked down at her arm and said "I wish they would take this giant fish out of the bed." I visited her daily she was rarely aware of her situation. She was lucid and incredibly loving and kind. But she saw some amazing things which she often conveyed to me. Most often she felt an energy in space, and told me she had had been in outer space. She was also able to tell me all kinds of things I never thought possible. Bless you Jill Bolte Taylor you have helped to understand .
Sincerely, Karen Stevens

  NoStroke [04.18.08 04:59 PM]

what this woman is describing are effects of a significant dose of Lysergic acid diethylamide, also known as LSD. The symptoms match EXACTLY what one would experience after consuming a decent quantity of acid.

  rainbowprof [04.21.08 01:45 AM]

NoStroke's comments are accurate insofar as psychoactive substances can bring about these experiences. Additionally, deep insight meditation also helps one to access these subtler realms of existence, but we are reticent to call this 'nirvana.- more likely to be but a step on the path. Metaphysical experiences come in many shapes and colours, but are not an end unto themselves. One must be careful not to confuse milestones along the way with the final destination.
A very moving story about what life really is. Stirring to note that so many of us are caught up in day-to-day life that we miss the deeper awareness of what life really is beneath the fetters of are imprisoned lives and paradigms that enslave us. Thanks for jolting us back with glimpses of the infinite.
Thank you, Jill Bolte Taylor

  tom wilke [04.24.08 03:09 PM]

The silence of the left hemisphere, though, does not necessarily constitute a mystical experience. Nor does the right hemisphere 'mediate' a mystical experience. The brain is part of the temporary world. The Pure Silence of a true mystical experience is not contingent on the temporal, but is eternal. How can a temporary structure mediate an eternal experience?

More important than how the brain/mind works is WHY the it works. If the Silence is so wonderful, why is the information processing mechanism, right or left hemisphere, ever used at all? This is all sorted out in the recent book "Why The Mind Works" by The Nectar Project.

  Anthony Citrano [05.04.08 11:59 PM]


(Finally) watched this on the plane today. It occurred to me that she was describing the LSD experience almost exactly. I wonder what could be learned from that connection. I'm especially glad to see many others have drawn that parallel to her talk (so I know I'm not crazy.)


p.s. i owe you a phone call

  Michaela [05.06.08 12:44 PM]

With regard to the LSD experience, wasn't that
what Timothy Leary was on about? That one could experience enlightenment through taking acid?

There is a podcast with the lady here:

I too want to share her experience with everyone
I know. Seems as if not everyone I know is as ready to be blown away as I was.

  Ellen [05.16.08 08:12 PM]

I've been recommending a book by Jill Bolte Taylor called "My Stroke of Insight" to everyone I know. It's an amazing story, both uplifting and powerful on three levels: physical, emotional, and spiritual, but the spiritual aspect alone makes this the best book I've read all year.

How often do you get to hear a neuroscientist describe having a stroke, nearly dying and finding Nirvana, and then making a miraculous recovery so that she's back to teaching medical students!?!

I came away with a renewed sense of understanding, wonder and hopefulness about the capabilities of the human brain. I give "My Stroke of Insight" highest marks!

You can get the book for just $16.47 with free shipping from Amazon!

  Bridget [05.19.08 09:11 PM]

Impt Update - You can see Jill Taylor on Oprah's Soul Series - there are four amazing interviews with Oprah and you can view or download them from the Oprah website - click Jill BOolte Taylor or Soul Series. I was very impressed with how closely Oprah had read Jill's book MY STROKE OF INSIGHT - this was no LSD experience, but it can teach us all how to live better, combining left and right brain .

Here's the Amazon link for the book - I got it at a good discount there

  steve [05.26.08 10:58 PM]

On the subject of relating her experience to the LSD experience, or psychedelic experiences in general:
yes, what she describes is definitely closely related, however I would urge people not to simply take this as a reason to focus attention on drugs. Instead, take this connection as an opportunity to understand the brain more. There are a variety of physical processes that can attack the functions of the left brain, allowing the right brain to overtake and provide visions, revelations and a sense of wholeness beauty. Aldous Huxley wrote about the many ways towards the mystical experience in his book The Doors of Perception. Granted, his writing of the book was motivated by his experience with mescaline, but after having had this experience, he didn't spend his time merely attaching huge undue significance to drugs alone, but he instead looked into as many ways as possible to have a mystical experience.
The reality is that many of the ways towards this experience involve somehow poisoning, harming, or depriving the left brain, such as excessive fasting or self-castigation. But he also discusses the possibility of achieving a similar experience through ecstatic singing or performing music. Plenty of musicians have performed while taking LSD, but I can attest to having had close to mystical experience while performing music not under the influence of any drugs. Also, meditation is another way to achieve this state without drugs.
The point is not to suggest that attaching any significance to drugs is wrong, but to suggest that drugs are not the only way.
Drugs have opened many people's minds to the possibility of the mystical experience, and yet many people do not realize that in order to recreate that experience or to allow its revelations to have lasting impact in their lives they must dedicate themselves to a disciplined life that tends to include a lot of meditation and sober reflection. I've seen too many people attach too much significance to drugs and take too many and harm themselves and their lives as a result. end of story.

  Nancy [05.28.08 10:44 PM]

The New York Times Sunday Newspaper on May 25 had a great two page article on Jill Bolte Taylor and her book, "MY STROKE OF INSIGHT". Her book is a must read and this NY Times article - called "A Superhighway to bliss" is worth checking out too.

  Joseph [05.30.08 12:06 AM]

I read "My Stroke of Insight" in one sitting - I couldn't put it down. I laughed. I cried. It was a fantastic book (I heard it's a NYTimes Bestseller and I can see why!), but I also think it will be the start of a new, transformative Movement! No one wants to have a stroke as Jill Bolte Taylor did, but her experience can teach us all how to live better lives. Her speech was one of the most incredibly moving, stimulating, wonderful videos I've ever seen. Her Oprah Soul Series interviews were fascinating. They should make a movie of her life so everyone sees it. This is the Real Deal and gives me hope for humanity.

  Melita [06.02.08 09:57 PM]

MY STROKE OF INSIGHT was ranked #5 in all books sold on Amazon today and #1 in Memoirs above even Barbara Walters' memoir. Babs had been promoting her book for months in advance and Dr. Taylor's book was self-published.

Then Oprah recommended it. There's the Power of Now, and then there's the Power of Oprah!!

"My Stroke of Insight" is out in Hardcover now for less than the old paperback edition. Amazon has it for 40% off.

  R. Brill [07.27.08 10:40 AM]

I teach pre-teens and adults about managing their brain functions to boost their coping ability to get over life upsets and stress. When I heard Jill Taylor being interviewed on PBS radio I realized her personal experience took her light years beyond traditional neuroscience and neuroanatomy. She speaks of "greater uses" of our brain in everyday life. Both kids and seniors in my programs seem excited to learn that we have the power to regulate our brain's "functions." Jill's personal insights go beyond her traditional neuroscience training to enlighten both young and old that we have enormous capacities for creative uses of our brain far beyond the benefits of rote learning. We can teach brain-based coping skills because humans must learn to adapt to the realities of life. Jill's testmony is that we all have the ability to learn about our greater brain capacities to adapt, cope with stressful experiences, and channel our brain power into far greater problem-solving solutions to the problems that plague humanity.

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