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The Little Voices in Our Head with Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor

On a podcast about mindfulness, we obviously focus a lot on the mind. But what is the mind? Generally, it is regarded as synonymous with our memories, feelings, thoughts, beliefs, perspectives and is the producer of our behaviors. We can’t see our minds, so like our discussion last week where we touched on spirit and soul, minds are another invisible energy source that isn’t easy to describe, but we know it exists.

The brain, on the other hand, is a three-pound lump of tissue inside our skull, and according to scientists, is the physical source of what we call mind. From a scientific perspective, if we are experiencing an emotion or thought, it’s because the neurons in the brain send electrical signals that release neurochemicals or hormones into the system resulting in that thought or emotion. If this is the case, it seems to me we could better understand our minds if we better understood the brain and how it works.

I recently had the sincere pleasure of speaking with renowned neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor, to discuss her new book, Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life, which explains not only how the brain works, but how we can use that information to achieve more well-being and to gain power over our thoughts, feelings, relationships and lives. Dr. Taylor is a New York Times best-selling author, stroke survivor and one of Time Magazine's Most Influential People. Dr. Jill gave the first TED talk that ever went viral on the Internet and was the premier guest on Oprah Winfrey’s Soul Series.

I’m sure like you, I’ve always known I had a little voice in my head, but now I understand there are actually four, which leads to quite the conversation going on upstairs. I’ve been playing around with my four characters for the past couple of weeks and I have to say, I now feel like I’m supervising the characters instead of them sort of driving the show. The four characters, left-brain thinking, left brain emotional, right brain emotional and right brain thinking each have an appropriate place and time to dominate, but frequently interfere at times that don’t best serve me, so it has been really helpful to be mindful in noticing which one is doing what. Dr. Jill recommends that you name your four characters, which I did, and it does strengthen the framework and make it easier to have that internal chat, i.e., brain huddle, by picturing them by their names.

I have admired Dr. Jill since discovering her through her first book, My Stroke of Insight, and am very grateful that she took the time to join us today to talk about her new book, Whole Brain Living. You can view the full interview on our YouTube channel.

Remember to be mindful of the timeline of an emotion that Dr. Jill shared. When we become triggered with anger, fear, or anxiety, it takes less than 90 seconds for that emotion to flood through us and flush out of our body. So the next time you feel triggered, try breathing through it for 90 seconds and enjoy feeling empowered instead of panicked.

Until next time. Stay well, be kind to yourself and others, and remember to be mindful.

Have a wonderful week.

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