“Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters that Drive our Life” is a key to unlocking the mystery of how we are both spiritual beings who are one with the universe but also can get totally caught up in the material 3D world.
We have all heard the wild statistics that we only use a tiny percentage of our brain in our day-to-day life. Well, Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. is here to make sure we understand our whole brain and feel qualified to use it to promote peace in the world.
While she is a Neuroscientist, Dr. Taylor doesn’t make us work hard to understand her book. She breaks the brain down into four distinct parts, calling them characters 1, 2, 3, and 4. Then she helps you name yours with something that makes sense for you and relates to how that part of the brain shows up.
Once you understand the different parts of the brain, she shows you a way to have them sit down together for a “brain huddle” and get something out of the experience.
The first half of this book is about the neuroanatomy and psychology of each of the parts of our brain. Instead of looking at it as right-brain emotional and left brain rational, four distinct areas are defined. These descriptions are in my own words, my very oversimplified interpretation after reading the book.
Character 1 – Left thinking – The organized perfectionist, logically getting things done
Character 2 – Left Emotion – The inner child, wounded and insecure, can easily play the victim
Character 3- Right Emotion – The creative, wants to play and move and create without a care
Character 4 – Right Thinking – The spiritual center, is connected to all that is and the higher purpose
This book is groundbreaking because it teaches us how to get past emotional reactivity and into real peace. “At any moment we have the ability to choose which consciousness we want to focus on: our left-brain external reality or our right-brain present moment.” Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor.
We not only learn how to recognize the four characters in ourselves through this book, but we can also see how others in our lives are showing up in each of their characters as well. This can help us build more compassionate and resilient relationships. If I have four characters, and another person has four characters, any 1 on 1 conversation is actually between 8 characters! This explains a lot of relationship issues in my past. What about you?
The Impact of Whole Brain Living
As a Millenial, I have been raised to always look for the scientific proof that backs up my beliefs. That is why my spiritual awakening that has been unfolding over the past few years has been so unsettling. Anecdotes from others with similar experiences were not supposed to be enough proof for me to believe that something is “true”. However, I have been able to find just enough science to back up what I want to believe is true to keep on the path of spirituality.
This book, and her previous one, “My Stroke of Insight” have had a huge impact on me because of the scientific explanation of the spiritual experience. I love when she explained, “In the moment of birth, we gained our physical individuality, but we would never shed the shared consciousness of the universal energy that infused our every cell.” It validates what I already knew to be true in my character 4 so that my character 1 can get on board with it.
The book also is helping me to see that when I’m in my rational mind caught up in the day-to-day, there is nothing bad about it. And moving into peace is always a choice. It’s never something that I have found or lost, it’s just a character in my brain that I can bring to the front or allow it to move back. I love the empowerment that this brings.
My Personal Insights
The part of my brain that used to make me a “perfectionist” is the same part of my brain that I often need to kick me into gear now. But I have silenced that part of my brain so much, it doesn’t speak up and tell me what I need to do as much as I now feel I need it to.
Before realizing this, I was confused about my complacency on things that seem like common sense to do. I was spending so much time with my Character 3 creating things. My character 1 was NOT allowed to speak up about the bookkeeping or organizational things that need to be done.
I said, “That’s just not me. I’m not organized.” It’s hard to be an entrepreneur without a strong character 1. Before I read “Whole Brain Living” I was questioning whether this is what I really want. Why I don’t seem to have the motivation to do the things that I know are non-negotiable? But now I realize I always have the choice to bring that part of the brain forward!
I realized I have named and shamed this part of my brain so much, she is probably hiding in a corner afraid to make a peep. I treated her like the enemy and now I am working toward bringing her back onto my team. I tell her that she is a valuable part of me and that I want to listen to her more often. After all, she is the one making this blog post happen right now. If I never let her do her thing, all of my creations would stay on my hard drive, or in my drafts. But she helps me get organized enough to hit the publish button.
How I’m Incorporating Whole Brain Living
The biggest change for me after reading “Whole Brain Living,” is this overall sense that I am whole. It’s hard to explain but I used to perceive my spiritual self as kind of separate from my intellectual self. My creative self was just my inner child, and the part of me that could show up scared and victimized was totally pushed aside. I feel like this perspective has helped me to see myself as one whole instead of many individual parts. But at the same time, it has empowered me to choose where I want to be at any moment in time.
I don’t have to judge myself when different characters take over. If I observe what they want, and it’s not aligned with who I am, I will change it. I will just take a moment to do the BRAIN huddle. Then I will choose how I want to move forward!
I challenge you to check out this book, or one of the many videos where she talks about it start to incorporate it in your life! I would love to talk with you about it if you feel called to, use this link to book a conversation with me about it!
“At any moment in time, there are pretty much only three things going on in our brain. We think thoughts, we feel emotions, and we run physiological responses to what we are thinking and feeling.”
“At a neuroanatomical level, when we experience conflicting feelings it is because we have two emotional groups of cells that are completely separate from one another in that they do not share any cell bodies.”
“So, from a purely biological perspective, we humans are feeling creatures who think, rather than thinking creatures who feel.”
“By taking responsibility for the character I embody, I take responsibility for the energy I bring into a room.”
“Character 1 sees our body as a vehicle. Character 2 sees our body as a responsibility. Character 3 sees our body as a toy. Character 4 sees our body as a temple of the soul.”
“None of us is getting out of this life alive, so once all of our Four Characters agree that our ultimate goal is to live well, and die well, we can all weigh in on what we need to do to make that happen.”
“When I choose to pass a problematic scenario up to God, I am not shirking my responsibility. I am merely shifting my perspective and choosing peace over fear and fret.”
“When we choose peace within us, and we choose peace between us regardless of our differences, our brains evolve.”
“We are energy beings connected to one another through the consciousness of our right hemispheres as one human family. And right here, right now, we are brothers and sisters on this planet, here to make the world a better place. And in this moment we are perfect, we are whole, and we are beautiful.”
If you are like me and you have a healthy appetite for reading, you may be wondering where to get books. I do my best to support small local businesses and be as eco-friendly as I can be, so here are the options I have found.
#1 by far is to check your local library. I get most of my ebooks and audiobooks from the library which is cost-effective and environmentally a great thing to do.
If you prefer to buy books, here are some alternatives to the giant A word:
Better World Books
Feel free to leave your recommendations below and I can add them to this list as I know I am missing out on resources sometimes since my library is so accesssible!