Last week, Dr Jill Bolte Taylor was in Seattle to speak about her book, My Stroke of Insight. Taylor, a neuroscientist, suffered a debilitating stroke, then after months of hard work and persistence, was able to make a full recovery. The book is about her experience and the lessons she learned from it, as a person and as a brain scientist.
In an interview with the New Spirit Journal, Dr Taylor shed light on the inner workings of the brain. “It’s only been in the last decade that neurocientists have learned two very important things about the brain. One is that we actually do generate some new cells, some new neurons. So in the case of trauma there is the potential for there to be some new neural development which gives the person the chance to create new circuitry. Second, neuroplasticity, the ability of neurons to rearrange their connections inside of the brain. We’ve learned the brain is a much more dynamic and lively place.”
Dr Taylor goes on to explain the importance of the mind-body connection. When we have a thought, it stimulates an emotional response, which stimulates a physiological response. She says, “From the time I think the thought to the time I trigger the emotional circuitry to the time I have the physiological response come and go is all less than 90 seconds. It’s totally amazing.
“We can stay angry longer than 90 seconds but what we’re doing is restimulating the physiological response. We have the ability to say ‘Wait a minute. I’m restimulating this. I feel it in my body. I recognize I am running it. I can choose to observe it instead of engaging it’. As soon as I do that, I am stepping outside of just running on automatic and I actually have a say in what is happening in my brain.”
Many self-help books and websites teach us about conscious choice, the ability to be the creators of our own reality, instead of letting life happen to us. What captured me about Dr Taylor’s article is it echoed the idea of conscious choice on a deep neurological level. When we respond consciously to a situation, we reinforce or recreate our neural pathways. We can personally choose how our brains develop by what we choose to focus on. Think about that. Harnessing your personal power to make better choices can actually rewire your brain. Awesome. Acknowledge your personal power to change your brain, your body, and your life, and you realize that the possibilities are endless. Go for it.