Oprah continues her conversation with Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, the Harvard-trained brain scientist who suffered a stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. They talk about her book My Stroke of Insight and what life was like in the days after Dr. Taylor's brain surgery and the years of recovery that followed. Plus, Dr. Taylor explains her discovery that through the right hemisphere of the brain, inner peace is just a thought away.
In the time before and after brain surgery to remove a golf ball-size blood clot in the left hemisphere of her brain, Dr. Taylor says her brain chatter—the constant flow of thoughts most of us experience—was gone. "I sat in an absolutely silent mind for the two and a half weeks before surgery and up to two and a half weeks after surgery," she says. Because thoughts and language are controlled by the left side of the brain, Dr. Taylor says she experienced the wonders of the right brain intensely. "It was beautiful and it was tranquil and peaceful, and I felt so whole and so enormous," Dr. Taylor says. "I would sit on my couch with this goofy grin on my face because I was alive and the colors and the environment…it was stimulation and it was fascinating."
While others may have looked at her and saw an adult woman reduced to infancy—drooling and not able to care for herself—Dr. Taylor's mother, G.G., saw the daughter she loved slowly recovering from a stroke. "It was beautiful for both of us, and everyday we saw progress," Dr. Taylor says. Many stroke patients can become hopeless because no one is paying attention to the little daily progresses in their recovery, but Dr. Taylor says her mother's care and celebration of her small triumphs helped her spirit and healing immensely.
As her recovery progressed, a few memories of her life came back to her—including emotional baggage she had been living without—but Dr. Taylor says she made the choice to not include those memories in her present, peaceful life. She says everyone can change their thoughts from painful memories and constant mind chatter to inner peace. "Pay attention to what you are thinking, and then decide if those are thoughts that are creating the kind of life you want created," she says. "And if it's not, then change your thoughts. It's really that easy."