Yesterday I was watching Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk about her experience having a stroke. There is a moment when she described how she could feel herself losing connection to her left brain and being lost in the right side of her brain. When her left brain became silent, she suddenly felt euphoric, all of her ‘emotional baggage’ from the last 37 years disappeared, she felt bigger then herself, completed connected and part of everything around her. She called this ‘la la land’.
This morning in cycling class I was reminded again of that feeling of being completely present and part of the moment you are experiencing, when you do not feel a separation between you and the bike; you are just one being. Another way I can describe my personal experience is having a moment when I felt so powerful and so much bigger than the individual that I am in my own body; and when I’ve felt that way I’ve had a hugely positive impact on others lives (so they’ve told me…).
The new insight I got from Dr. Taylor is being aware of which part of your brain you are accessing to form your consciousness is something that we have power over and we can choose. There is a huge overdependence on the left side of our brains and I think we forget that the right side and developing the ability to switch to using that side of our brain is also important for innovating, solving complex problems and ultimately our own happiness and feeling that our life has meaning.
I think this ability to go to ‘la la land’ is also what allows people to build resilience to survive even in the harshest and most miserable conditions. I remember reading Victor Frankl’s descriptions of survivors in concentration camps; that those who survived did because they were able to detach themselves from feeling their individualism being attacked, to feeling a deeper spiritual connection to being part of something bigger than just themselves and finding hope for the possibility of the situation changing.
One of my colleagues shared with me recently that she noticed I could keep generating ideas during a project meeting we were having, even if our colleagues we were meeting with would ‘judge’ every idea as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ or ‘how can you prove that will work’ and she found herself shutting down. I think I can keep going not feeling ‘judged’ or having my ‘individual self’ harmed by them because I am not focusing my energy on that and I’m not paying attention to the ‘boundaries’ of myself. In the meeting I focused instead on drawing on my creative energies because that was more important for us to solve the problem at hand.
Growing up, adults would also say to me, ‘stop daydreaming’, ‘don’t get carried away by your imagination’ or ‘you have your head in the clouds’. In my own maturation process I realize more and more that going to ‘la la land’ itself is not a bad thing. It depends on the context; sometimes using our left brain is killing us more than just letting ourselves enter the euphoria of ‘la la land’.