Yesterday my daughter sent me a video of brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor talking about her experience of a massive stroke to the left side of her brain. Having just returned from a contemplative worship service, I was extremely interested in what Dr. Taylor had to say, because it seems to provide such an intriguing explanation for my own internal struggles to quiet the brain and sense the oneness of things.
Dr. Taylor's left brain didn't stop functioning all at once, but rather gradually, moving in and out of consciousness as it lost functionality, so she was able to experience both the left brain's attempts to control the situation and, when the left side receded from consciousness, she could experience the right brain's sense of mystical oneness with all of life, and was in fact unable to feel her own boundaries.
Somehow thinking about this brought to mind a conversation I'd had before the worship service with my old friend Max. I happened to mention to him that my husband and I had been speculating that, since the nervous system is all about synapses, making connections, perhaps the more intelligent or sophisticated a brain is the more it delights in uncovering connections. But Max reminded me that it is really the heart that lies at the root of knowing.
And so, having seen Dr. Taylor hold out an actual human brain to us, and having seen that brain flop dramatically open to display how completely distinct its two halves are, I began to wonder if the function of meditation might be to strengthen the connection between our left and right hemispheres, so that the left brain decisions might be more informed by the right brain's understanding of wholeness and unity -- and if the way to connect the two -- at least at this point in our evolution -- is through the heart.
So I created this image as a way of exploring that heart/brain connection, and I am intrigued, both by the organic quality of that portion at the bottom of the heart, and by the sense that the division appears to come from above, and looks almost like divine hands reaching down through the two halves of the brain and in to the heart, both splitting the brain and, at the same time, a sort of inverse gesture of namaste.
I think I'll stop here; too much to think about! And I think it may be time to look more closely at Daniel Siegel's work on interpersonal neurobiology. But I did also want to share this wonderful quotation from George Bernard Shaw, found in the Richo book I've been reading:
"This is the true joy in life: being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, being thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap, being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy."
Yup. That's where I want to be. I suspect that's where all of us want to be. Now if we could only figure out how to get there!