The Day I switched Off My Left Brain

This post was inspired by a recent Ted Talk that I watched titled:

‘My Stroke of Insight’. This video is the story of  brain scientist, Jill Bolte Taylor who had a stroke which temporarily disabled her left brain creating a surprising and astonishing experience.

I switched off my left brain yesterday. Just like that. I ended its incessant chit-chat, labels, and judgements. I shut it down, and like a messy and inexperienced surgeon I ripped out its rotting intellectual filter. Enough of its biased commentary based on experience long past. Enough of its projection in to a future uncertain. It was the now for which I longed, the ever and eternal now free from psychological time.

At first it was the silence. So quiet, so still. Like the damp, dank earth waiting silently for the first glimpse of sun on a new day, like those seconds before dawn, everything is just allowed to be in the ‘is-ness’ of the moment.

I saw the world anew again. Like a child where summer days so clear so crisp they felt as though they weren’t bound by time. Like the associated smells that cling to old memories. A girlfriends lip balm, my teenage aftershave or the smell of blooming jasmine at my childhood home in Spring.

I turned off my left brain and dissolved the notion of ‘I’, ‘Me’ as separate from the world, separate from others, separate from you. I became instantly as one with the universe, as my cells and atoms spun, buzzed, collided and spilt over eternity. No longer could I tell the boundary between I and the world. It was, after all, the same. I was broken like the clack of billiard balls scattered from uniformity at the break. But at the same moment I was more whole than I’ve ever been.

I was so large, so enormous and grand. I was time and space together as the same. I was me, but I was also perceiving me. I looked at my body with its awkward limbs, prehistoric digits and physical frailty. I pondered, disgusted at its odd boundaries between it and the world around. For I was more than my body, merely the vessel that enabled physical worldly interactions. I was the universe, I was God, I was the oxygen worldly bodies breathe and I was the stars at which we gaze on a clear winters night in the back yard of our home with a sense of ‘there must be more…’

Words, language, labels made no sense. For this state cannot be understood by the mind. It cannot be articulated with a pair of clumsy lips and slippery tongues used to form base vowels and consonants. It cannot be grasped by clammy palms or fleshy fingers. It’s too grand, too big, too sensational for any worldly senses to comprehend.

So I swum about the universe and drank the stars. I lay down on Saturn rings and took a bite out of the dry, chalky, pasty moon. Would I ever go back? Could I ever fit this expansive soul into such a small frail vessel so tortured by the judging, criticising, limiting entity that is the left brain?

Nevertheless I descended back down through the cosmos. I scurried back across the corpus callosum  that binds my cerebral hemispheres. Back to my dormant left brain now dark, musty and stale and I turned it back on.

I watched as the cosmos faded and dancing atoms stopped, froze and then bound back to each other with haste to form physical separate forms. As the flick of a light-switch throws a room from dark unknown forms in to distinguishable separate physical objects. In a flick, I was again human. I was I, me, separate form.

I reclaimed my emotional baggage from the cloak room of the cosmos, I handed in my objectivity for a perception full of judgement. I traded the beautiful silence and stillness for incessant mental chatter. There is, after all, work to be done and bills to pay.

But every now and then, I still escape. I still turn off my left brain, scurry back across the corpus callosum and sit in awe in the expansive, unbounded realm of my right brain. I expand again so great so large and become one with the universe… just for a day.

2 Replies to “The Day I switched Off My Left Brain”

  1. I recommend “Song of Myself” by Whitman. Echoes these thoughts exactly.

    A few short excerpts from a very long poem:

    I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
    And what I assume you shall assume,
    For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

    Swiftly arose and spread around me the peace and knowledge that pass
    all the argument of the earth,
    And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
    And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
    And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women
    my sisters and lovers,
    And that a kelson of the creation is love,
    And limitless are leaves stiff or drooping in the fields,
    And brown ants in the little wells beneath them,
    And mossy scabs of the worm fence, heap’d stones, elder, mullein and


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