I’ve been reading a lot lately about “the story of separation”, the story that our society is built around, and how it seems to be our undoing… There is a wave of thinking that advocates for us to reclaim “the story of interbeing”, the idea that we are not separate, but deeply interwoven, and if we can shift our understanding so that we operate from that place, that insight, that philosophy, then we can actually make the systemic changes we need to make in order to arrest the climate emergency that is underway.
It is a narrative that appeals to me, because I love anything that is framed as a story, and I can feel the hope baked into it. But it has been feeling like a kind of mythical battleground, with the stock analysts, politicians and CEOs lined up on one side, and the dreamers and protestors on the other. Like, it’s nice… but it feels unrealistic that we’ll dethrone the power paradigm, right? Like, yes, Lisa, we all want to believe in dragons and unicorns, but here’s a shovel, start digging out your bunker.
That is, until I watched this 10+ year old TED talk on brain science, with Jill Bolte Taylor, who subsequently wrote a book called My Stroke of Insight. In this 20 minute talk, to which she even brings a real human brain, with dangling spinal cord, to demonstrate… she speaks with such power of her experience, almost dying of a stroke.
And in this, I see the possibility, the hard science, the way these stories interweave. We don’t have to choose either/or. It can absolutely be YES AND.
Because both ways of thinking are wired into every single one of us. We just need to be reminded of the authenticity and authority of both.
Check it out. Let me know what you think.
At 3:52, she says: “Our right human hemisphere is all about this present moment. It’s all about right here, right now. It thinks in pictures and it learns kinesthetically from the movement of our bodies. Information in a 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, smells like, tastes like, 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.
Our left hemisphere is a very different place. It thinks linearly and methodically, is all about the past, and the future. It’s designed to take enormous collage of the present moment and start picking out details, details and more details about those details, it categorizes and organizes all that information, associates it with every thing in the past we’ve ever learned, and projects into the future all of our possibilities. It thinks in language. It’s the ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world to my external world. It’s the little voice that says to me, “you gotta remember to pick up bananas on the way home.” It’s the calculating intelligence that reminds me when I hve to do my laundry. It says, “I am. I am.” And as soon as my left hemisphere says to me “I am”, I become separate, I become a single solitary individual, separate from the energy flow around me and separate from you.”
Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist, lost that portion of her brain when she had a stroke. She felt her brain functions slip away one by one, and practically narrated the entire experience, her consciousness watching her and thinking “wow, what a weird looking thing…” Her left hemisphere brain chatter went completely quiet. And suddenly, she was dropped into the energy field of everything.
Her talk is so powerful and genuine – do watch it!
Who are we, she concludes: “We are the life force power of the Universe. With manual dexterity and two cognitive minds. We have the power to choose moment by moment who and how we want to be in the world. Step into the consciousness of the right hemishhere where we are, I am, the life force power of the 50 trilliion 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, solid, separate from the flow – 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 hemisphere, the more peace we will project into the world and the more peaceful our planet will be.”