Search Mediators Near You:

NeuroAnatomist Jill Bolte Taylor Narrates Her Own Stroke and Finds Nirvana

It’s Sunday . . . and since I inadvertently celebrated my own little Brain Week here, I thought I’d give you something extraordinary to watch . . . it has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with negotiation!

UPDATE:  As you can see from the link in my friend Stephanie West Allen‘s comment below (she blogs on neuroscience and the law at Brains on Purpose) there’s considerable controversy about the brain science recounted in this arresting presentation. 

This presentation caused me a little cognitive dissonance because my own experiences (1969-1971 — I’m sure the statute of limitations has run) with psychedelics as well as those described by others (see Aldous Huxley’s Doors of Perception */) duplicate Bolte-Taylor’s to a T.  As I watched this with the friend who introduced it to me yesterday I kept thinking “psychedelics don’t act only on the right or left part of the brain, so what’s the deal here?”

I’ll take the left-brain/right-brain description metaphorically.  Since I’m not a brain scientist, the science described, right or wrong, doesn’t get in the way of my appreciation for the described experience.

Once you open this particular “door of perception” you can find your way back to it by way of meditation.  As Huxley wrote:

The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less sure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance yet better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable mystery which it tries, forever vainly, to comprehend.

From the TED site:

One morning, a blood vessel in Jill Bolte Taylor’s brain exploded. As a brain scientist, she realized she had a ringside seat to her own stroke. She watched as her brain functions shut down one by one: motion, speech, memory, self-awareness …

Amazed to find herself alive, Taylor spent eight years recovering her ability to think, walk and talk. She has become a spokesperson for stroke recovery and for the possibility of coming back from brain injury stronger than before. In her case, although the stroke damaged the left side of her brain, her recovery unleashed a torrent of creative energy from her right. From her home base in Indiana, she now travels the country on behalf of the Harvard Brain Bank as the “Singin’ Scientist.”

“How many brain scientists have been able to study the brain from the inside out? I’ve gotten as much out of this experience of losing my left mind as I have in my entire academic career.”   Jill Bolte Taylor


*/  The title comes from William Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell:

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern.


Victoria Pynchon

Attorney-mediator Victoria Pynchon is a panelist with ADR Services, Inc. Ms. Pynchon was awarded her LL.M Degree in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute in May of 2006, after 25 years of complex commercial litigation practice, with sub-specialties in intellectual property, securities fraud, antitrust, insurance coverage, consumer class actions and all… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


[PODCAST] The Divided Community Project’s Commitment to Community Change Through Dispute Resolution

JAMS ADR Blog by Chris PooleIn this podcast, JAMS neutral Michael Lewis; Carl Smallwood, executive director of the Divided Community Project; and Nancy Rogers, who serves on the Divided Community...

By Michael Lewis
Category Helps Divorcing Couples Resolve and Learn From Conflicts

Originally published at In the US, a divorce occurs every 13 seconds, and separations affect 50% of all marriages. Divorce can be one of the most stressful events in one’s...

By Sean Garrity

Reflections on our First Half Year

New York Peace Institute Blog, the Hecklist by Brad HeckmanFolks, I’d like to reflect on the amazing, whirlwind year that’s coming to a close. We officially became the New York...

By Brad Heckman

Find a Mediator