Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., awoke with a headache the morning of December 10, 1996. She expected to spend the day at the Harvard University lab where she worked mapping how brain cells communicate. Instead, she ended up having a massive stroke.
More specifically, the left hemisphere of her brain was bleeding from an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a rare congenital condition she wasn’t aware she had that results from an abnormal connection between an artery and a vein. As the blood from the rupture clotted, it pressed against her brain’s language centers, causing her left hemisphere to shut down over the next several hours. This eventually left her with access only to her right brain’s perception—an opportunity the neuroanatomist found fascinating.
At one point, before she realized what was happening, Taylor was attempting to take a shower and almost lost her balance. She put out her arm to steady herself, and when she looked at her arm pressing against the wall, she couldn’t tell where the atoms and molecules of her limb ended and where those of the wall began. They had all blended together in a shimmering fluidity.
“It was all just energy,” she remembers. In the midst of what she would later realize was a life-threatening medical emergency, she was experiencing euphoria and a blissful sense of oneness with all that is.
In our discussion for this issue’s “Listening in With …,” Taylor talks about the abilities the stroke gave her, including a greater understanding of the right-brain perspective and how we can live more peaceful, expansive, and joyful lives by deliberately tapping into the right hemisphere more often instead of giving it short shrift. Our lives work much better, she explains, when we respect both hemispheres equally. In a more balanced state, Taylor insists, peace can truly be a conscious choice; we have way more power over our thoughts and their effect than most of us realize.
On a different note, you’ve no doubt noticed that with this new year, Unity Magazine has a new look. We’ve improved the graphic design and have condensed our longer columns to make room for a few new ones. Noted genetic researcher and ordained New Thought minister Dawson Church, Ph.D., will be taking a scientific look at the mind/body/ spirit connection in “Healing, Science, and Spirituality,” while Rev. Ed Townley will share the metaphysical meaning behind various passages from the Bible and other sacred texts in “The Spirit of Scripture.”
These new columns are just the beginning of an effort to cover more advanced spiritual ideas and practices. While we hardly shied away from that in past issues, we’re dedicated to diving even deeper in the future. Check out our new mission statement, which appears on the table of contents, for a fuller picture of where we’re headed.
Katy Koontz, Editor