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The Biomedical Engineering blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to engineering principles of the medical field. Here, you'll find everything from discussions about emerging medical technologies to advances in medical research. The blog's owner, Chelsey H, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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Break on Through to the Other Side

Posted June 04, 2008 12:00 AM by Sharkles

Experiencing nirvana is something that most humans will never achieve. However, neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor, CR4's woman of the week , did just that – by having a stroke.

On December 10, 1996, a blood vessel in Dr. Taylor's brain burst, causing a piercing pain behind her eye. Within minutes, the left lobe of her brain began to fail. As her sense of rationality, analysis, and logic faded, Jill Taylor felt great. She no longer had to think about the everyday stressors in her life; rather, she says that her perceptions had changed. "My perception of physical boundaries was no longer limited to where my skin met air", she writes.

While her spirit felt like a "genie liberated from its bottle", Jill Taylor had a golf ball-sized clot in her head. The failure of the left side of her brain took away her ability to speak, understand numbers and letters, and recognize her mother. After surgery and eight years of recovery, however, Dr. Jill Bolte is alive and well. Her desire now is to speak to others about achieving nirvana – the reason, she says, that her spirit returned to her body.

Not Your Typical Stroke Patient

Injuries to the left side of the brain rarely lead to bliss. Often, the result of a stroke is the exact opposite of what happened to Dr. Taylor. Stroke is the number two cause of death world-wide, and third in the United States alone. Potentially, a stroke can cause permanent neurological damage, complications, and even death if not immediately diagnosed and treated. Luckily for Dr. Taylor, the left side of her brain was not completely damaged. This is the reason doctors believe she was able to make a full recovery.

For Jill Taylor, it wasn't faith that saved her, but science. She now brings her personal insights to the study of the brain. Science knows that the two lobes of the brain have different "personalities". The left brain gives us logic and rationality, while the right side is known for creativity and emotion. For most people, the left side is dominant as it processes language. Yet Dr. Taylor says that it doesn't have to be like this. Rather, Taylor believes that people can sidestep the left brain to live a more spiritual and peaceful life.

In February, Dr. Taylor spoke to the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) conference for presenting innovative scientific ideas. See the video here.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroke

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/25/fashion/25brain.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ei=5087&em&en=72f0660cfb53889d&ex=1212120000

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/229

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#1

Re: Break on Through to the Other Side

06/04/2008 9:29 PM

Nice find sharkles!

Try this out: http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/97/art-of-work.html

"Flow" And at work no less. No dangerous blood vessel failure needed. Thanks for the post.

milo

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People say between two opposed opinions the truth lies in the middle. Not at all! Between them lies the problem, what is unseeable,eternally active life, contemplated in repose. Goethe
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#2
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Re: Break on Through to the Other Side

06/05/2008 11:42 AM

Milo-

What a fantastic article! It was a great read, thank you for suggesting it. There are times where I feel like I've experienced "flow" as well - only didn't have a name for it. I particularly liked how they summed "flow" up in this paragraph:

"Passive leisure activities such as TV-watching consistently ranked low on participants' scales of satisfaction -- even though they often sought out these experiences. Instead, people reported the greatest sense of well-being while pursuing challenging activities, sometimes even at work, and often while immersed in a hobby."

I liked the article so much, I am now considering reading the book. Thanks again for suggesting it - and I'm glad you liked the blog entry

Cheers!
-Kate

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Sharkles
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Re: Break on Through to the Other Side

06/05/2008 11:53 AM
__________________
People say between two opposed opinions the truth lies in the middle. Not at all! Between them lies the problem, what is unseeable,eternally active life, contemplated in repose. Goethe
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Re: Break on Through to the Other Side

06/06/2008 12:57 PM

I have had that experience at work occasionally where you just know that what you are doing is coming together in a way that is special and wondrous, and it brings great joy... Unfortunately just when you get to that point, the boss will walk in and demand that you immediately attend a two hour meeting on enterprise management software implementation or expense account policy changes... and the feeling is murdered in cold blood.

But I more often experience it when playing with a band... Most of the time, especially when playing with amature musicians, things work and the song comes out fine....

But every now and again, something happens and everyone in the band is completely reading the minds of everyone else, and things come together perfectly.. Musicians speak of it as being "in the groove" and that is something really special, and produces in me a nirvana like feeling. Sort of lost in time and space and filled with a joy that is hard to describe... very cool..

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