right-brained—say with meditation—
but they feel as though their right brain
won’t talk to them?
JBT: Everybody meditates differently.
For some, the silencing of the mind
is never going to happen, but that’s
not really the point. The point is not
to care about the chatter and to focus
instead on the present moment. That’s
the domain of the right brain, and you
don’t have to quiet that.
Personally, I don’t like to quiet my
mind. I almost died with a really quiet
mind. What I do want is to bring my
mind to the present. We have the
power to choose the temporality of our
minds, moment by moment. When I
bring my mind to the present, I care
about different things. I think about
different things. I worry about different
things, if I’m worrying at all. I shift
my awareness. So you don’t have to
meditate in order to be in your right
brain. Actually, meditation is more
an action of the left brain trying to
quiet itself so that you can have the
experience of the present moment.
KK: You teach that we have more
power over our thoughts than we
know, but what happens when our
surroundings work against that?
JBT: I think you’ve already mastered
that because I’ve noticed you laugh
a lot. Isn’t that the key to life, being
able to laugh about things, whether
we like them or not? Allow your sense
of humor to come in and see that
everything is pretty ridiculous. The fact
that we even exist is pretty amazing.
I mean, it is an absurd concept that I
exist at all, but it seems that I do, so I’m
going to laugh about it, and if you’re
going to take it way too seriously, I’m
going to laugh about that too.
KK: What’s the 90-second rule you
JBT: At any moment, only three
things are going on inside of our
brain. We’re thinking a thought, we’re
feeling an emotion, and we’re having
a physiological response. So if I think
of my mother, who I lost unexpectedly
two years ago, I automatically stimulate
the circuit of grieving, and I might tear
up. Anything we think and anything
we feel is just circuitry, just a bunch of
cells performing their function.
It takes only 90 seconds from
having a thought and triggering a
chemical response for that chemical
to surge through my body and then
totally dissipate from my blood. That’s
it—in 90 seconds, from a biological/
physiological perspective, my
automatic response is totally finished.
If I’m still feeling emotion, it’s because
I’ve made the choice to let that circuit
continue to run—I’m holding on to
that emotion, and therefore it escalates
and lasts longer.
So the next time you feel angry, look
at your watch, because just by doing
that, you are observing yourself in this
action instead of going through it, and
it’s a different kind of experience. That
makes it easier to simply allow those
emotions to naturally pass through
your body and flush themselves out.
KK: Are there any advanced
techniques you’ve incorporated into
your spiritual practice?
JBT: Anat Baniel, who worked with
Moshe Feldenkrais, has intuitively
created a technique called the Anat
Baniel Method (or NeuroMovement)
that is an evolution of the Feldenkrais
Method. It’s a movement pattern built
on neuroplasticity. I have a practitioner
work on me once a week, and now I’m
actually going to train in this myself.
This will infuse my writing, my view
of us as human beings, what I believe
to be true, and my work helping others
become healthier people.
KK: How powerful do you think we
can be? Are we gaining momentum,
or are we actually spitting into the
wind? Some days the headlines would
indicate the latter.
JBT: For life to be interesting, you
have to have a this and a that. That’s
why our brain has two hemispheres.
It’s the nature of how we are to have
two sides in combat. Sometimes it
goes one way, and sometimes the
other way, but in the big picture, we’re
all fine. As awful as things seem to be
in the physical world, you and I are as
big as the universe, and we’re just fine.
KK: That’s comforting.
JBT: That’s really how I feel. I live on
a boat, and when a big storm hits and
my mooring ropes threaten to bust,
it doesn’t matter. If they break, I deal
with them. I move into the present
moment. I raise my engines, and I do
this and I try that, and I laugh a lot.
It will be what it will be. In the big
picture, I’m as big as the cove—bigger,
even—so it doesn’t matter. Even if I die
in the storm, it doesn’t matter. We are
all this enormousness, part of the flow,
always and in all ways.
Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., is
the CEO of My Stroke of
Insight, Inc., and chair of the
not-for-profit Jill Bolte Taylor
BRAINS, Inc., which promotes
whole-brain awareness on all
levels. Taylor is also a national
spokesperson for the Harvard
Brain Tissue Resource Center
(Harvard Brain Bank). Harpo
is adapting her best-selling
book, My Stroke of Insight,
into a motion picture. Visit