Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight

02 Mar

The original, extremely interesting TED talk can be found here:

Time: 18 Miutes, 42 seconds

This was the very first TED talk that I watched and it blew my mind.  I remember feeling that this felt very much like watching a (fake) television program scripted to show a very intelligent woman and sharing concepts that are just beyond the common thought process that we as ‘normal folk’ live by.

But in parallel with her talk of two different hemispheres of the brain, I also knew that this talk was real.  This person, was real.  There actually are people out there in the world who can express themselves in terms of both scientific and symbolic fashion.  Throw in the additional fact that the story itself is captivating in its own right, and we have a TED talk that makes an excellent ‘starter’ video for introducing one to what TED is about.

What caught me off guard:

The language with which she uses to express herself and her ideas.  And her voice is very distinct, which plays with the ear so you end up listening more closely.   She is a visually expressive speaker, closing her eyes and reliving every moment of her story with her actions and you can sense that her emotions are intensely attuned to her story.

One Sentence Summary:

(Well, this is difficult.  My original idea was to see if I could generate a single line sentence to describe the TED Talk, but I fear that this is an injustice.  However, I do see a benefit from having attempted such a thing so I will do so despite the vanity of making the attempt)

Our minds are a double highway that links both the minutia details of logic/reason and also a universal conduit to the connections all around us that is nirvana and that we should seek to spend time in exploring both.



Who is Jill Bolte Taylor?  Is she still a neurologist?  Why did I see her name on a billboard while driving around the city one time?

Not surprisingly, there is a very detailed Wikipedia entry about Jill here:

Summarizing the details presented, after Jill suffered the stroke in 1996 she wrote a best selling book detailing her recovery entitled “My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey” which was covered on Oprah in 2008.  Since then she was recognized many times and was one of the top 100 influential people at one point.  She is also the national spokesperson for the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center.

Jill has her own webpage:

Here one can actually contact Jill (or her press secretary) to book for a speaking engagement at a conference or public event.  Given how excellent a speaker she is, I would not be surprised if her planner is quite full.


So what does this all mean?

What is most provoking is that it asks the question, who are you now?  It is a question that we answer by defining ourselves at every moment and at every situation and thus we dictate our own mindset and quite possibly our own happiness.  It is a pretty damn big question to be asking.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t lead me with a good answer on the how.  I fully get that in my mind is the potential to be one with the universe, I actually have moments where that inner peace is so attainable that I could reach it with a back scratcher so I know there’s something there.

On the other hand, it might be better that this be left as an open question so that each individual should be seeking to finding their own method of interacting with each hemisphere of their brain.  It certainly makes a very good reason to try to know oneself and not have to wait for a stroke  to realize it.


Updated every Thursday.


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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in TED Talks


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