Wednesday, 11 June 2014

A no-brainer

This week I tried something new. I attempted to step inside the right hemisphere of my brain and find my inner peace. Pardon? Yup, you heard correctly. So if you need me, that's where I'll be: connecting with the 'here and now', thinking in pictures and receiving energy streams. And before you dismiss this as a load of codswallop, I heard about it from a brain scientist. So there.


A tree blocking out the sunshine
Turning to the right-side of my brain
Let's backtrack a little. It has been a busy old week. I have been juggling the usual demands of family life with a promotion/sale of my book and preparation for a 45-minute presentation on self-publishing at the BritMums conference later this month. In between cooking supper and packing school bags, I have been padding back and forth to the computer to proof power-point slides and check the latest figures on my book sales.

By mid-week, my brain was firing on all circuits and refusing to switch off at the requisite times. I was completely plugged into my work, but also slightly removed from reality. And despite all the brain chatter, my focus was becoming slightly glazed. Cue neuroanatomist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, who gave an influential TED Talk back in 2008 about a stroke she suffered aged 37. (Don't worry, I didn't have a stroke.)

In 1996 Jill suffered a severe brain haemorrhage and over the course of a morning witnessed a deterioration in her self-awareness, speech and motion as the left side of her brain shut down. Despite all the trauma of the stroke, she found the experience of existing solely in the right side of her brain strangely uplifting. 


No more emotional baggage


As Jill explains in the TED Talk, the right hemisphere of the brain functions in the immediate present, processing our environment as the body's different sensory systems receive streams of energy. Meanwhile, the left hemisphere of the brain takes this collage of impressions and selects details to categorise and associate with memory. In other words, the left hemisphere makes us individual and separates us from the flow of environmental data. "It is the little voice that says I am," adds Jill. 
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
Jill Bolte Taylor: "I felt euphoric!"

As the left-side of Jill's brain went off-line, she experienced a tremendous sense of inner peace. She was captivated by the "magnificence of the energy" around her. "Imagine what it feels like to lose 37 years of emotional baggage... Oh I felt euphoric!" Ever since, she has been driven to share her experiences and encourage people to run the "circuitry of the right hemisphere and project peace into the world".

So, this morning as I was walking the dog, I gave it a go and tried to open my mind to the sunshine, the birdsong and the delicious, green curve of the hill in the distance. It was like meditation in motion and strangely it seemed to work, as long as I could push all those other busy thoughts to the back of my mind. 

To some degree, this seeking of inner peace only works as a form of self-avoidance. You have to focus on the 'here and now' at the expense of other thoughts and feelings jostling for space in your head. Most of the time, I confess I am happy to function as a fully conscious individual with both sides of my brain operating together. However, just occasionally, it could be refreshing to tune out the left side and exist in the beauty of the moment. Come and join me when you can.


P.S. If you fancy a more literary form of escapism, you can pick up my novel, A Sister for Margot, for only 99p / 99 cents this week. It's a romantic tale and a World War II adventure with a modern twist! Here's a rather nice review from the fabulous CountryWives site.

I am also speaking at the BritMums conference on the 21st June at 14.10 on 'How to successfully self-publish'. Hope to see some of you there!


Thanks to Jamie and Sasha Reed for directing me to this TED Talk, and also to my book club for our discussion on consciousness.