just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
October, 2012

Mindful Killing

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

In search of common values, perhaps the biggest dialogue topic is that which deals with life/death. Whether it’s abortion, capital punishment, war, euthanasia, end of life medical decisions, hunting/fishing, trapping a house mouse, slapping an insect, etc.
Whenever we’re involved in terminating the physical life of a living thing, what values do we bring to the table. It would seem our own fear of surrendering our physical body keeps us from these conversations until it’s too late. I would consider myself ‘pro-life’ in that I’m always for placing great care into making these decisions from love. Within my core belief system, where we are interconnected as one another, action that comes from faith, flexibility, the open mind and empathy seems to work. On the other hand, action that comes from fear, inflexibility, the closed mind and lack of faith in finding the Divine in all seems to result in disharmony. So how do we come to the table on these highly sensitive topics? This is where dialogue comes in.

Willingness to dialogue is willingness to open to something bigger. There’s a humble confidence that may at first appear uncertain, weak and tentative. Yet, it really communicates the deepest of courage to suspend one’s beliefs/fixed thoughts to more deeply explore such a sensitive topic as mindful killing. Often perceived as ‘wishy washy’ and weak, in reality, when we can surrender our notions of certainty to the vast mystery, we all move closer to the Divine. This is the essence of what’s meant by placing ‘full reliance upon divine Providence’. So what does this language of dialogue look like?

If we look at those great leaders who’ve been able to enlist the confidence of humanity, we’ll find the phrases Keller and Brown reference in their book, Monologue to Dialogue:

“I may be wrong but here is the way I see it….”
“It could be…”
“What would you think…”
“I think what I am trying to say…”
“Isn’t there something here …”
“What you say might just be so….”
“I don’t know if…”


Obviously, these would be suicidal words in our polarized political arena where inflexibility and monologue are pushed to our detriment. Yet, in this crucial time of rapid change, deeper understanding and flexibility seem to be exactly what we need. Our consensus push seems to scream the mantra “jobs, jobs, jobs”, when in fact, if we want to save our democracy, it needs to be “communicate, communicate, communicate”. We seem to have become a nation of “agree vs. disagree”, often resulting in societal silence for fear of causing trouble. Yet, we all know challenge and trouble come with the inevitability of change, especially such rapid global change. So why not show our real courage and step into dialogue, especially into the pressing life/death issues that face us today?

The Christian faith places a call to renewed intelligence. In Roman 12.2 we’re directed to “be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind…that ye may prove what is…the perfect will of God…”. It directs us to continually transform our ways of understanding, of looking at facts, and examining the very process of communicating with one another.

So how do we face the difficult topic of mindful killing in a society that wants to hide from it? We’re directed to step from our ‘fixed’ notions because we’re always in movement. We’re directed to surrender to bigger actions that better meet present day conditions. We’re directed to listen deeply to each other and to the will of God. No spiritual tradition says we can live forever in our physical bodies and most recognize the eventual need for participating in the life/death process. The intention to which we do this is perhaps the most important. Is it directed from kindness or fear? Is it sensitive to all parties? Is there a better way to handle these societal decisions without getting into the inflexibility of legal language? How do we best dialogue with one another about inevitable impermanence and the interconnection of All?

This morning I set a trap for some mice that had entered our house. This torments me and I know I must find better solutions. Yet, at the moment my wife insists we keep them from our house. This morning I meditated in the middle of the lake on my surf board as shots rang out during duck hunting season. This morning I paddled by some ducks, mindlessly disturbing them from their haven as they startled to the sky to be shot down by some hunters nearby. My lack of mindfulness in keeping the mice out without killing is taking lives. My lack of mindfulness in flushing the ducks to the sky resulted in killing. I’m sure many soldiers are tormented by the loss of life to many civilians, often labeled ‘collateral damage’, innocently killed in a military operation. No doubt, we can’t ‘not kill’. However, we can increase our mindfulness to it. What’s our intention? Can we get bigger than our fixed notions of absolute action? Can we live more carefully, more alive to long term effects of our actions than short term pleasure? I suspect there are hunters and fishermen holding some remorse for the lives taken merely to have a trophy on the wall, just as there are many mothers in regret for having an abortion and many mothers in regret for bringing an unwanted child into the world. I’m sure there are those who regret the lack of courage to let a body release when worn out, just as there may be those who question whether a miracle of longer physical life was in the horizon when the plug was pulled.

There are no absolute answers to these questions. There never will be complete agreement. Yet, the degree to which we delude ourselves into ‘thinking’ absolute answers exist, that no more dialogue is needed, is the degree to which we whither as a peoples. Again, we can’t ‘not kill’, but we can aim to follow the will of God in love for one another, even our perceived enemy. We can aim to awareness and mindfulness to the results of our actions, always aiming to what’s best for all with harm to none.

Awareness and mindfulness may be the major motivation to meditation simply because we reduce our likelihood to mindlessly kill. I was told a story about a famous meditation master. He had written several books and was finishing a long workshop when a student asked him what he was most proud of through his prolific life. He had fame, thousands who listened to him, a great history in charity and healing, and so he took the question with deep thought. The audience sat in stillness for almost half an hour before he answered. His reply, “I’m most proud of the fact that I haven’t killed anyone.” It’s my sincere hope that we can all heal from those mindless moments where we cause harm to others, particularly when it involves life/death decisions. My heart says this is why prayer and meditation are food for the soul. Without stillness, we may risk hearing the voice of divine Providence, God’s willful command to love one another and faith’s contempt for the harm that comes from fear.

How We Language the Ultimate

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Our reasoning minds want answers. Language gives us the illusion of ‘knowing’. It certainly helps point us in the right or wrong direction as we travel our spiritual journey, our opportunity to ‘be’. So how does language play into this?

By it’s very nature, language is dualistic. If functions from a subject vs. object orientation that counters much spiritual wisdom claiming that separation is an illusion. So what happens when we eliminate the ‘object’, the notion of ‘me here and you there’? This seems to be the essence of our great spiritual teachers as they direct us to love others as ourselves, to respect the All in the all. I’ve struggled with this concept for many years, finding it difficult to break the dualism ‘me here, Divine there’. When we understand that meaning is in the person, that language triggers semantic reaction, whenever and whatever we name will somehow infect our experience of whatever we call it (i.e. God, Divine, Ultimate, Enlightenment, buddha nature, Awareness, Allah, Nature, etc.). Worse yet, our reactive minds are hard to still when another fails to hold reverence to these words.

Could it be that we can only use language to point to that which is too big to label? The command to ‘be still’ and experience the matrix, the interconnected fabric of all things beyond notions of time and space, seems quite universal in many spiritual traditions. To get to this place of the ‘preverbal’ or ‘empty mind’, I’ve found it helpful to not only abandon the ‘subject/object’ linguistic concept, but to also move from Divine as noun to verb.

I’ve always appreciated the phrasing that, “God is love.” Put another way, “If it’s not about love, it’s not about God.” So how do you read the word ‘love’, noun or verb? If you’re spiritual tradition is theistic/dualistic, I’d suspect it’s much easier to read it as a noun. There’s something quite unsettling to the dismissal of some centralized, organized intelligence we’ve tried to capture as a noun. Could this be the real message of ‘God is dead’? It’s not a denial of awareness to nature’s laws of impermanence and interdependence. It’s an invitation to go deeper, beyond the limitations of language. It’s an invite to surrender past our conceptual mind, to ‘feel’ beyond thought and words, and to experience God as verb, as the action of love and kindness.

As we advance as a human species, we deepen in understanding the futility of war. While nuclear disarmament talks seem absent this election cycle, we become more aware of the problems created from greed for power. Our international strategy seems to be moving more and more to diplomacy. Yet, we hold diplomacy hostage when we refuse to sit at the table together unless certain belief systems are conceded to. Diplomacy from such closed minds is seldom successful. Real diplomacy can grow when parties can sit together in silence. When we no longer argue about who has the right label or the right concept, we open to that which is bigger than us. This is where we water the seeds of the Divine as verb. This very process is kindness in action, even when we run the least risk of violence/harm. Today’s problems are huge and our challenge is to actualize the Divine as verb past our notions of huge, touching the very purpose to which we’re here, to love one another as ourselves, to reverently touch the All in the All.

How About God as Verb Rather than Noun

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Rather than the noun God, how about God-ing? If God is love, how about just calling it ‘big loving’? This breaking of the illusion of separation needs reference, but I suggest the reference is cleaner when presented as verb rather than noun. It’s more difficult to put possession to that which is moving. How many battles have been fought in the name of ‘my God’? We came somewhat close to an action oriented change with the statement, “God is love”. The more powerful, less confusing interpretation is found in the verb of ‘love’, rather than object noun.’’

When aligned with the divine, it’s an action verb. When caught in the abstraction of a noun, great confusion exists, further entangling us in the thicket of thought. The command to ‘love one another as yourself’ is the commanded selfless action. All of Jesus’ parables can point to this God-ing. As we go through our day, a continual examination for solid action would ask, “What would Jesus do?”

To What (Who) Do You Surrender?

Friday, October 5th, 2012

This may be one of life’s most difficult questions. I’ve found it practically helpful to try to stay out of the way from others. This becomes more difficult when under attack. When I was a child I was taught to surrender to the authority of my parents, the church and the state. This changed when what they were asking didn’t align with something that was deeper. The more curious I got the more I found the need for flexibility. Conditions were forever changing and what I ‘thought’ was truth at one time was totally flipped on its head another time. I’ve seen how those who struggle to stop change eventually break. I’ve seen how those pioneers who push to make change are seldom rewarded in history, at least in their lifetime. And I’ve seen how wisdom has grown in those who hold a bigger view, allowing for uncertainty and the gift of divine providence.

I’ve studied language and thought intensively for the past forty years. It’s utterly fascinating to see how we fight over various ‘beliefs’ which are basically ‘thoughts we’ve attached to’. As we attach to these fixed beliefs in a constantly moving environment we increase our chances to break. We become rigid and brittle. Yet, nature advises us to surrender in faith, to be limber, flexible, curious, kind and in harmony. It seems as if we’re doing everything but fostering harmony these days as we fight amongst one another. We proudly attach to our ‘thoughts’ of being right. We call these our convictions. And just as convicts are imprisoned behind their limiting walls, we close ourselves to growth through our fixed thoughts.

Thoughts are by definition linguistically driven. You can’t have a thought outside of language. Language can point to the universal, to the experience of the divine. Yet, the experience of All (God) comes before the birth of a thought. Once thought (language) comes into the picture we’re necessarily ‘divided’. Uchiyama Roshi describes it as:

“Ordinarily we divide up the world into this and that on the basis of thought.  But to give up thought, to be free from thought, is to be prior to thought and hence to be before the separation of things into this and that.  We can say then that when we are practicing zazen there is not yet any separation between now and eternity, or between self and the world.  This way of speaking may sound like mere theory;  but for the man of zazen* this is no logical deduction as such but a direct personal experience given in zazen.”  p. 115 Approach to Zen. *the practice of sitting meditation

Today we face potential wars of great proportion based on our attachment to having the correct ‘thought’. We all have our myth and through pride, arrogance, and a sense of conviction, we’re willing to kill/harm one another. Yet, when we go to the complete demand to surrender, the Declaration of Independence recognized that it has to be bigger than surrender to nationalism, to church, to military commander, etc. Their statement of faith was a commitment to surrender to full reliance upon divine Providence. I propose that this is God before labels and language. This is that universal experience of support that is free from thought and language. It’s the universal direct experience of peace and support that’s felt before thoughts separate us from each other. It’s the sense of the divine that says we are each other, beyond thoughts’ temptation to label one another as enemy.

We all know this, yet any sense of meeting one another in this space seems to be withering away. From fear and anxiety, we scream ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’. It seems we’ve lost our faith and replaced it with fear/materialism. I recently heard a call from a local minister that said, “As we worship God we let go our fears that keep us from loving, we put down our masks that hide our true selves. We turn to God seeking wholeness and forgiveness in our own life and the courage to offer forgiveness to each other.” Letting go our fear and seeking wholeness (non-duality) is big work, big faith and big courage. Faith has contempt for fear. Can we find the divine before thought, judgment and separation (fear) enter? Where does our sense of belonging stop? Who is no longer our neighbor? If we deeply look at this we’ll likely find where our violence begins, where our peace feels threatened.

This courage to surrender to that which is bigger than our ‘thought’ knowing is what real communication is about. It’s been called dialogue. Rumi captured it when he wrote:

Somewhere out there is a field beyond right knowing and wrong knowing.
Let us meet there.

There’s a moral dimension that lives beyond our judgment of good or bad. There’s a deep respect for the limits of language and the fact that meaning is in the person, not the word. This capacity to cultivate deeper faith in stillness, prior to being captured by language and thought, opens us to a bigger knowing and limitless respect for the mystery of life. This is where we cultivate integrity through faith. This is where we find the courage to dialog. In an article titled “Toward a Meaning-Centered Philosophy of Communication” found in Bridges Not Walls, Dean Barnlund writes:

“Integrative instruction in communication encourages the student to work out better meanings concerning his own communication with himself and his fellowmen. By “better” I refer to meanings that permit more consistency in his personality between what he assumes, what he sees, and what he does. By “better” I refer to meanings that will increase his openness, curiosity and flexibility. By “better” I refer to meanings that will make him more independent, and more confident of his own judgment.”

Tonight is the eve of our first presidential debate. This is a competitive warring format that’s far from cultivating any sense of real communication. We’re electing the most powerful position in the country where ‘confidence of judgment’ through integrity is of utmost importance. Yet, for days they’ve been coached on answers that are anything but authentic. We will not see an openness to one another, a curiosity to understand one another and a flexibility to see things in new ways, all the characteristics we really need for a peaceful world. It will be a battle of who is right and who is wrong, who stands up best to the supposed ‘fact’ checkers, and who cons us best into believing they’ll get more jobs. It’s a test of everything we don’t want in a leader. When the battle cry could be, “Communicate, communicate, communicate”, we’re stuck with the mantra of materialists dedicated to more conflict in the never ending fight to be ‘right’.

It’s my big hope that we’ll once again find our faith, a bigger faith that goes before thought and words. It’s a faith that has contempt for fear and separation, for greed and ignorance to kindness. It’s a humble confidence that’s willing to cultivate a practice of sitting/surrendering to the silence found before thought/words. As this local minister said, it’s a surrender that cultivates the experience of wholeness and unity, knowing “God has loved you, loves you now, and will love you always”, that God is All beyond notions of division. This is real wholeness, real unity, and what gives us the courage to surrender to divine Providence, this knowing that we’ve never been alone, aren’t alone now, and will never be alone. It’s waking from the illusion that we’re separate, and this happens before thought.

Jill Bolte Taylor’s Powerful Stroke of Insight

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2012

A friend recently forwarded me this Ted Talk that exquisitely communicates the human experience of non-duality and duality from a physiological perspective.


I grew up to study the brain because I have a brother who has been diagnosed with a brain disorder: schizophrenia. And as a sister and later, as a scientist, I wanted to understand, why is it that I can take my dreams, I can connect them to my reality, and I can make my dreams come true? What is it about my brother’s brain and his schizophrenia that he cannot connect his dreams to a common and shared reality, so they instead become delusion?

So I dedicated my career to research into the severe mental illnesses. And I moved from my home state of Indiana to Boston, where I was working in the lab of Dr. Francine Benes, in the Harvard Department of Psychiatry. And in the lab, we were asking the question, “What are the biological differences between the brains of individuals who would be diagnosed as normal control, as compared with the brains of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective or bipolar disorder?”

So we were essentially mapping the microcircuitry of the brain: which cells are communicating with which cells, with which chemicals, and then in what quantities of those chemicals? So there was a lot of meaning in my life because I was performing this type of research during the day. But then in the evenings and on the weekends, I traveled as an advocate for NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. But on the morning of December 10, 1996, I woke up to discover that I had a brain disorder of my own. A blood vessel exploded in the left half of my brain. And in the course of four hours, I watched my brain completely deteriorate in its ability to process all information. On the morning of the hemorrhage, I could not walk, talk, read, write or recall any of my life. I essentially became an infant in a woman’s body.

If you’ve ever seen a human brain, it’s obvious that the two hemispheres are completely separate from one another. And I have brought for you a real human brain. So this is a real human brain.

This is the front of the brain, the back of brain with the spinal cord hanging down, and this is how it would be positioned inside of my head. And when you look at the brain, it’s obvious that the two cerebral cortices are completely separate from one another. For those of you who understand computers, our right hemisphere functions like a parallel processor, while our left hemisphere functions like a serial processor. The two hemispheres do communicate with one another through the corpus collosum, which is made up of some 300 million axonal fibers. But other than that, the two hemispheres are completely separate. Because they process information differently, each of our hemispheres think about different things, they care about different things, and, dare I say, they have very different personalities.

Excuse me. Thank you. It’s been a joy. Assistant: It has been.

Our right human hemisphere is all about this present moment. It’s all about “right here, right now.” Our right hemisphere, it thinks in pictures and it learns kinesthetically through the movement of our bodies. Information, in the form of energy, streams in simultaneously through all of our sensory systems and then it explodes into this enormous collage of what this present moment looks like, what this present moment smells like and tastes like, what it feels like and what it sounds like. I am an energy-being connected to the energy all around me through the consciousness of my right hemisphere. We are energy-beings connected to one another through the consciousness of our right hemispheres as one human family. And right here, right now, we are brothers and sisters on this planet, here to make the world a better place. And in this moment we are perfect, we are whole and we are beautiful.

My left hemisphere — our left hemisphere — is a very different place. Our left hemisphere thinks linearly and methodically. Our left hemisphere is all about the past and it’s all about the future. Our left hemisphere is designed to take that enormous collage of the present moment and start picking out details, details and more details about those details. It then categorizes and organizes all that information, associates it with everything in the past we’ve ever learned, and projects into the future all of our possibilities. And our left hemisphere thinks in language. It’s that ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world to my external world. It’s that little voice that says to me, “Hey, you gotta remember to pick up bananas on your way home. I need them in the morning.”

It’s that calculating intelligence that reminds me when I have to do my laundry. But perhaps most important, it’s that little voice that says to me, “I am. I am.” And as soon as my left hemisphere says to me “I am,” I become separate. I become a single solid individual, separate from the energy flow around me and separate from you. And this was the portion of my brain that I lost on the morning of my stroke.

On the morning of the stroke, I woke up to a pounding pain behind my left eye. And it was the kind of pain — caustic pain — that you get when you bite into ice cream. And it just gripped me — and then it released me. And then it just gripped me — and then it released me. And it was very unusual for me to ever experience any kind of pain, so I thought, “OK, I’ll just start my normal routine.”

So I got up and I jumped onto my cardio glider, which is a full-body, full-exercise machine. And I’m jamming away on this thing, and I’m realizing that my hands look like primitive claws grasping onto the bar. And I thought, “That’s very peculiar.” And I looked down at my body and I thought, “Whoa, I’m a weird-looking thing.” And it was as though my consciousness had shifted away from my normal perception of reality, where I’m the person on the machine having the experience, to some esoteric space where I’m witnessing myself having this experience.

And it was all very peculiar, and my headache was just getting worse. So I get off the machine, and I’m walking across my living room floor, and I realize that everything inside of my body has slowed way down. And every step is very rigid and very deliberate. There’s no fluidity to my pace, and there’s this constriction in my area of perceptions, so I’m just focused on internal systems. And I’m standing in my bathroom getting ready to step into the shower, and I could actually hear the dialogue inside of my body. I heard a little voice saying, “OK. You muscles, you gotta contract. You muscles, you relax.”

And then I lost my balance, and I’m propped up against the wall. And I look down at my arm and I realize that I can no longer define the boundaries of my body. I can’t define where I begin and where I end, because the atoms and the molecules of my arm blended with the atoms and molecules of the wall. And all I could detect was this energy — energy.

And I’m asking myself, “What is wrong with me? What is going on?” And in that moment, my brain chatter — 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.

Then all of a sudden my left hemisphere comes back online, and it says to me, “Hey! We got a problem! We got a problem! We gotta get some help.” And I’m going, “Ahh! I got a problem. I got a problem.” So it’s like, “OK. OK. I got a problem.”

But then I immediately drifted right back out into the consciousness — and I affectionately refer to this space as La La Land. But it was beautiful there. Imagine what it would be like to be totally disconnected from your brain chatter that connects you to the external world.

So here I am in this space, and my job — and any stress related to my job — it was gone. And I felt lighter in my body. And imagine all of the relationships in the external world and any stressors related to any of those — they were gone. And I felt this sense of peacefulness. And imagine what it would feel like to lose 37 years of emotional baggage! (Laughter) Oh! I felt euphoria — euphoria. It was beautiful.

And then, again, my left hemisphere comes online and it says, “Hey! You’ve got to pay attention. We’ve got to get help.” And I’m thinking, “I got to get help. I gotta focus.” So I get out of the shower and I mechanically dress and I’m walking around my apartment, and I’m thinking, “I gotta get to work. I gotta get to work. Can I drive? Can I drive?”

And in that moment my right arm went totally paralyzed by my side. Then I realized, “Oh my gosh! I’m having a stroke! I’m having a stroke!”

And the next thing my brain says to me is, “Wow! This is so cool.” (Laughter) “This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?” (Laughter)

And then it crosses my mind, “But I’m a very busy woman!” (Laughter) “I don’t have time for a stroke!”

So I’m like, “OK, I can’t stop the stroke from happening, so I’ll do this for a week or two, and then I’ll get back to my routine. OK. So I gotta call help. I gotta call work.” I couldn’t remember the number at work, so I remembered, in my office I had a business card with my number on it. So I go into my business room, I pull out a three-inch stack of business cards. And I’m looking at the card on top and even though I could see clearly in my mind’s eye what my business card looked like, I couldn’t tell if this was my card or not, because all I could see were pixels. And the pixels of the words blended with the pixels of the background and the pixels of the symbols, and I just couldn’t tell. And then I would wait for what I call a wave of clarity. And in that moment, I would be able to reattach to normal reality and I could tell that’s not the card … that’s not the card … that’s not the card. It took me 45 minutes to get one inch down inside of that stack of cards. In the meantime, for 45 minutes, the hemorrhage is getting bigger in my left hemisphere. I do not understand numbers, I do not understand the telephone, but it’s the only plan I have. So I take the phone pad and I put it right here. I take the business card, I put it right here, and I’m matching the shape of the squiggles on the card to the shape of the squiggles on the phone pad. But then I would drift back out into La La Land, and not remember when I came back if I’d already dialed those numbers. 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.”

Eventually, the whole number gets dialed and I’m listening to the phone, and my colleague picks up the phone and he says to me, “Woo woo woo woo.” (Laughter) And I think to myself, “Oh my gosh, he sounds like a Golden Retriever!”

And so I say to him — clear in my mind, I say to him: “This is Jill! I need help!” And what comes out of my voice is, “Woo woo woo woo woo.” I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, I sound like a Golden Retriever.” So I couldn’t know — I didn’t know that I couldn’t speak or understand language until I tried. So he recognizes that I need help and he gets me help.

And a little while later, I am riding in an ambulance from one hospital across Boston to [Massachusetts] General Hospital. And I curl up into a little fetal ball. And just like a balloon with the last bit of air, just, just right out of the balloon, I just felt my energy lift and just — I felt my spirit surrender.

And in that moment, I knew that I was no longer the choreographer of my life. And either the doctors rescue my body and give me a second chance at life, or this was perhaps my moment of transition.

When I woke later that afternoon, I was shocked to discover that I was still alive. When I felt my spirit surrender, I said goodbye to my life. And my mind was now suspended between two very opposite planes of reality. Stimulation coming in through my sensory systems felt like pure pain. Light burned my brain like wildfire, and sounds were so loud and chaotic that I could not pick a voice out from the background noise, and I just wanted to escape. Because I could not identify the position of my body in space, I felt enormous and expansive, like a genie just liberated from her bottle. And my spirit soared free, like a great whale gliding through the sea of silent euphoria. Nirvana. I found Nirvana. And I remember thinking, there’s no way I would ever be able to squeeze the enormousness of myself back inside this tiny little body.

But then 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.” And I pictured 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 me to recover.

Two and a half weeks after the hemorrhage, the surgeons went in and they removed a blood clot the size of a golf ball that was pushing on my language centers. Here I am with my mama, who is a true angel in my life. It took me eight years to completely 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. I am 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.