Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Buddha Baby on Brain Science

I know that Henry is brilliant. I know he will be fine. There's not a doubt in my mind he will have a deeply satisfying life and will shape the world around him in unimaginable ways. I know this. But I'm the mom, so I play every 'what if' scenario in my head and project futures that are entirely dependant on what I'm doing right now. Everything from the daily therapies to what he eats for breakfast to why potty training will never happen... don't get me started on weaning. The rational side of my brain knows that he will eventually be potty trained, he won't nurse forever, high fructose corn syrup won't destroy his potential and that the daily therapies matter. I know that. That's the left side of my brain, the constant chatter, the inner dialogue, the detailed language I use to project, study, organize, predict. That's the left side. Cause and effect. Linear. Detailed. Left.

But that's the side of Henry's injury, the part he lost in his stroke. So what does his brain sound like?  How do right-brained people think?  Yesterday I found myself mesmerized by a Ted Talk (  seriously check them out if you haven't before!) by Jill Bolte Taylor who authored "My Stroke of Insight". Short version, she was a neuroscientist who had a stroke at 37, and recovered fully. In her Ted Talk, she spoke about the difference in right brain and left brain thought, and it gave me new insight into Henry's world. The right brain deals in the sensory experience of this very moment. It thinks in pictures, embracing the collage of sights, smells, sounds that make up the now. It learns through movement, it feels. The right brain focuses on the (quoting Seamus Haney here) "IT of it all". It connects us to the world around us, and each other as sentient beings in that world, on a cellular level. It is experience. It is sensation. Being one with the universe because no one told you not to be.

I know that Henry's left brain wasn't lost, that he will recover the same way Dr. Bolte Taylor did. I know that. What I secretly hope is that he will retain the ability to turn off the left side's brain chatter and embrace his predisposition to live in the moment. That he will be big, confused about how to squeeze the enormity of his being into the tiny body that is Henry. That he will experience life more fully somehow than those of with excessive mom brain chatter. That he won't project a thousand what if's, and instead just be present. Just Be.

As long as we're sharing secrets here, the other secret I have is that I can't do yoga without crying. I can't turn off my brain chatter and be. It terrifies me. I am far more comfortable living in the land of projections and hypothesis than the current reality.

So that's my challenge to myself. To be present. To embrace my right brain and turn off my left brain. To taste dinner instead of putting it on the table while running a bath, reviewing Charlotte's homework, listening to the news. To cry during yoga, but to be okay with that.

Hug your kids/partner/pet, and turn off the chatter. This moment will never come again.


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