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Book Review: My Stroke of Insight

I picked up "My Stroke of Insight" curious to read about Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor's mesmerizing true story. Imagine the irony. A Harvard trained neuroanatomist -- a highly skilled brain expert - suffers a stroke and amazingly watches her left-brain functions quickly disappear. Dr. Jill relates a stroke victim's experience from the academic, scientific and personal perspectives. One quickly grasps that the human brain has amazing capabilities. Through Dr. Jill we see how the brain's plasticity (it's ability to repair and heal) works. She explains the science behind the reality that "we each have the power to change our minds, change our brain, change the way we think and feel" and in doing so change our lives for the better.

The story opens on the day of the fateful hemorrhage that destroys Dr. Jill's left-brain functions. Over the next eight years she is right brain dominant. The battle to regain left-brain functionality and the methods used to do so are just a cornerstone of Dr. Jill's story. Her historical recount lays the fabric but her journey through the eyes of a brain scientist intrigues and teaches. This story is a gift to society. It gives the medical community, stroke victims, stroke survivors, you and I a new brain perspective.

With her ego driven left-brain disabled from the stroke, Dr. Jill was forced to live life differently. She now operated from her right brain. This shift awakened something. As Dr. Jill rewired functions in her left brain, she wondered if she needed to bring back certain personality characteristics such as anger, worry, stubbornness, arrogance or meanness exactly as they had been before. She realized she didn't. She could choose. Jill found that "with lots of effort, I have consciously chosen to recover my left mind's ego center without giving renewed life to some of those old circuits."

The techniques Dr. Jill uses over her recovery help us understand that the brain's capacity to recover is phenomenal. Dr. Jill not only provides a stroke victim and their families hope and guidance but she gives all of us proof of more. She presents in simple terms how anyone can change their mind and consciously take responsibility for their energy, thoughts, and feelings to create a better and richer quality of life.

I realized as I came to the end of My Stroke of Insight that I was not only inspired but thoughtfully considering how I interact and react in my world. Dr. Jill states the importance of being mindful of "the energy I bring into a room". What a simple thought that can create dynamic change. Imagine if we did "tend the garden of our minds" what our world would be like.

Robin Parisse is interested in all avenues of brain change, function and expression, and an experienced marketer with over 20 years in a variety of industries: technology; consumer products; fashion retail; cycling and outdoor. Robin writes reviews, business plans, white papers, collateral and other business and consumer materials as well is a speaker and moderator for industry technology conferences.

Upcoming event: Presentation by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor