"I am large. I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Friday, April 25, 2008

In My Right Mind

Some Mayang facts: I am left-handed. Some people are ambidextrous but I am without a doubt, not one of them. I use my left hand to control the computer mouse. Even with my eyes, my left eye is the dominant one. And when I play the piano, my eyes gaze only at my left hand and if I lose that gaze, I lose where I am in the piece.

Apparently, what all this means is that I use my right brain hemisphere more than my left. Thanks to the corpus collosum that connects both brain hemispheres to each other, my right brain remains friendly with my left and vice versa, but I live mostly in my right mind. Scientists say that a right brain person like me is a parallel thinker, not a linear one. That I think in pictures more, I am attuned sensorially and I am more about the present moment.

You may be wondering what's up with this runaway train of thought. Well, a few weeks back, I chanced upon a presentation by Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor which moved me to tears. It was a recounting of her stroke and what she was thinking and experiencing while she was going through it.

It was poetic and heart-rending. She spoke of how it was a journey from one hemisphere to another and back, and that when she was rising out of the stroke, it was like moving from her right brain where she was intrinsically connected to everything and everyone that was and is, back to her left where she would then again feel the separate entity that was herself.

I realize that we are - all of us - not one half or the other, but the sum of both parts. We are whole. We are whole when we're together. And whole when we're apart.

I think it moved me too because it made me see more vividly what Pa went through when he had that stroke last year. And I am so glad he came back. I'm in Manila on a work trip and I had coffee with Pa yesterday afternoon. What a delight that is to just sit across him and listen to his stories.

"(I thought) There's no way I would ever be able to squeeze the enormousness of myself back inside this tiny little body.

But I realized "But I'm still alive! I'm still alive and I have found Nirvana. And if I have found Nirvana and I'm still alive, then everyone who is alive can find Nirvana." I picture a world filled with beautiful, peaceful, compassionate, loving people who knew that they could come to this space at any time. And that they could purposely choose to step to the right of their left hemispheres and find this peace. And then I realized what a tremendous gift this experience could be, what a stroke of insight this could be to how we live our lives. And it motivated my to recover.

So who are we? We are the life force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds. And we have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world. Right here right now, I can step into the consciousness of my right hemisphere where we are -- I am -- the life force power of the universe, and the life force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form. At one with all that is. Or I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere. where I become a single individual, a solid, separate from the flow, separate from you. I am Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, intellectual, neuroanatomist. These are the "we" inside of me.

Which would you choose? Which do you choose? And when? I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world and the more peaceful our planet will be. And I thought that was an idea worth spreading."

~ Jill Bolte Taylor

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