Jill Bolte’s Stroke of Insight

Watch Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED Talk here (Links to an external site.)!
 25brain_2.190About Jill Bolte Taylor
Jill Bolte Taylor had an incredible opportunity that few people would wish for. Taylor had a massive stroke and watched the progression of her brain functions as they shut down one by one. Because of this experience, she has become a very powerful and influential voice for not only brain recovery but altering mindsets.
“Jill Bolte Taylor was a 37-year-old Harvard-trained and published brain scientist when a blood vessel exploded in her brain.  Through the eyes of a curious neuroanatomist, she watched her mind completely deteriorate whereby she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Because of her understanding of how the brain works, her respect for the cells composing her human form, and an amazing mother, Jill completely recovered her mind, brain and body.” Source (Links to an external site.)
When reading Taylor’s book, I found myself “on the edge of my seat,” figuratively speaking, for the whole duration of the book. She is able to illustrate the stages of her stroke as visual pictures for her viewers to easily interpret and picture for themselves. Through the experience of reading My Stroke of Insight, you feel as if you are a more-involved “fly on the wall” to the movie of her life, rather than being lectured about an insightful experience. Below is an excerpt of her out of body experience reaction, with the stroke as followed:
“And in that moment, my left hemisphere brain chatter went totally silent. Just like someone took a remote control and pushed the mute button. Total silence. And at first I was shocked to find myself inside of a silent mind. But then I was immediately captivated by the magnificence of the energy around me. And because I could no longer identify the boundaries of my body, I felt enormous and expansive. I felt at one with all the energy that was, and it was beautiful there.” Book
Through this moment she was able to map out the brain, her emotions, reactions, and senses for the users to try to sympathize with the feeling.
And the next thing my brain says to me is, Wow! This is so cool! This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out? – So I had to wield my paralyzed arm like a stump and cover the numbers as I went along and pushed them, so that as I would come back to normal reality, I’d be able to tell, “Yes, I’ve already dialed that number.” Book
Taylor accurately separates the difference between the right and left hemispheres and how they are essentially two of the same pieces with highly contrasted personalities. The right hemisphere – the “right here, right now” side that is highly visual and works on movement and energy. The left hemisphere – the “all about the past and future” side works on language. It identifies the text then categorizes the information to associate it with the past, then project assumptions for the future.
Media Presentation Timeline
  1. Presentation at TED
  • Viewed by millions around the world
  • Positive user response helped her become a highly sought-after public speaker
  • Chose by TIME Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2008
  • Premiere guest on Oprah’s Soul Series Web-Cast
  • Interviews with Oprah and Dr. Oz
  • CEO of My Stroke of Insight, Inc
  • Chairman of the Board of the not-for-profit Jill Bolte Taylor Brains, Inc
  • Dedicated to providing educational services, programs related to brain awareness, recovery, etc.
  • Feature Film (TBA)
“When neuroscientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor had a stroke that put her logical, sequential left brain temporarily out of commission, she experienced a temporary state of peaceful, all-connected consciousness that changed her forever.” HuffPost (Links to an external site.)
Her Influence
What’s incredible is that she saw this event as an opportunity rather than a setback – Iit would serve as a blessing and motivational tool to others going through similar symptoms. I think it’s incredibly valuable how she took advantage of her public speaking skills to share her powerful story. Among the visual examples, she expresses her vulnerability with every movement, thought, and action in the story of her stroke. This not only allowed the public to see a window inside Taylor’s comedic personality, but illustrated her human-like qualities. It brought the thorough case study to life. These verbal elements worked to gain her a significant amount of attention.
To be able to effectively tell these stories, she soon realized that she needed to emphasize her involvement, especially in the digital space due to several of her viewers overseas. She exudes a type of yogi personality with a encouragement and motivational Twitter account (Links to an external site.). She is constantly encouraging and interacting with her followers through inspirational quotes or simple sayings to send them positive vibes and energy throughout the day. What’s miraculous is that she is using her Twitter handle to spread the joy – and to spread her incredible story:
“Jill helps others not only rebuild their brains from trauma, but helps those of us with normal brains better understand how we can ‘tend the garden of our minds’ to maximize our quality of life.  Jill pushes the envelope in our understanding about how we can consciously influence the neural circuitry underlying what we think, how we feel, and how we react to life’s circumstances.” Source (Links to an external site.)
Her social media presence is the key to her success. Without TED’s large user base and the ability to display the video online to be streamed worked to her advantage. This is how she spreads her story and works to reach out to any individual in need of assistance or motivation.
“I believe the more time we spend running the deep inner peace circuitry of our right brain, then the more peace we will project into the world, and ultimately the more peace we will have on the planet.” Book
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