As she nears the end of My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor talks about how she enjoyed having a less dominant left brain for a while. The damage caused by her aneurysm suppressed and damaged many of the logical and linear functions of the left side of her brain. For a while she was almost completely in touch with the right side of her brain without the interference of the time-conscious, duty-bound, task-oriented left hemisphere.
"From a neuroanatomical perspective, I gained access to the experience of deep inner peace in the consciousness of my right mind when the language and orientation association areas in the left hemisphere of my brain became nonfunctional" (page 135).
It's not that she wishes she could dispense with that dominant and domineering left hemisphere. Instead she strives for a clearer neurological balance between the characters of the two hemispheres.
"Creating a healthy balance between our characters enables us the ability to remain cognitively flexible enough to welcome change (right hemisphere), and yet remain concrete enough to stay a path (left hemisphere). Learning to value and utilize all of our cognitive gifts opens our lives up to the masterpiece of life we truly are" (page 138).
This description of her longing to retain some of the benefits of trauma struck a chord with me. During Anne's hospitalization and after her death, I wrote poetry. It's not the first time I have waxed poetic, but it had been many years since I had written anything of artistic depth and quality. All that energy had been poured into sermons and classes and articles and books.
Could it be that the helplessness of my situation had stunned my left brain dominance for a while? I don't know. It is speculation at best. Perhaps, however, the part of me so used to being in control just went into shock for a while when everything descended into chaos.
I didn't experience anything close to a "stroke of insight." At the same time, I was in touch with art, music, poetry and dance in ways that I hadn't considered for decades. I wonder what was happening.
I'd be interested to know if anyone has tested left-brain dominance in the newly bereaved--especially those of us who experienced sudden losses. A functional MRI study of such subjects might be very interesting.
In the meantime, I too worry about losing some of the real benefits of a traumatic experience. I haven't written much poetry in the last year--back to sermons and studies and books (and blogs). I'm less in touch with music and spend very little time listening these days. I fear that my left brain is back in charge, and I'm not sure I like the current administration as much as I used to like it.
As I reflect on Bolte Taylor's experience, I think I need to return to some more creative pursuits in writing and music. I miss that lovely right hemisphere being more active (or allowed to be). It's time, perhaps, to get back into my right mind a bit.