neuroscience and spirituality for the differently wired (and everybody else, too)

I'm not sure how to credit this image from a new book by Carl Schoonover -- Portraits of the Mind:Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century (Abrams). The slide is from researchers Michael Hendricks and Suresh Jesuthasan (2008), and shows the arrangement of proteins that form the elaborate molecular scaffolding of axons in the human brain. Photo is linked to Schoonover article and more amazing brain images.

This post is for any of us (and yes, I proudly consider myself a card-carrying member of this not-so-exclusive club) who are consciously aware that we are “differently wired.”

Perhaps you, like me, have experienced what some would call a Traumatic Brain Injury (tbi), and others would refer to as an Accelerated Spiritual Emergence or Global Ascension Syndrome. Perhaps you have moved through experience that has left you “walking in two worlds” or “disassociated” or “biochemically imbalanced” or “highly sensitive” or saddled with the letters PTSD — even as you have created a life of uncommon texture and attunement.

The words and labels and descriptors mean very little. If you feel that your central nervous system framework rests upon a different operating system than most — regardless of how you got there — then you are accurate in that regard.  What matters is that perhaps you, like me, have journeyed with the knowing that you simultaneously feel larger than — and less than — nearly everyone you know or observe around you. Perhaps you, like me, have always known that you process information and experience in a way that has left you feeling a sense of “alien-nation,” frequently outside the margins of some generally agreed-upon sense of what is “normal.”

You, like me, may have been praised and adored and celebrated for this difference, or perhaps you, like me, have felt your experience to include being constantly misunderstood, judged, labeled, or otherwise set apart, seemingly without the inner tools to create a more sustainable state of belongment.

If so, you may find a certain level of deep peace in your soul (as I did) from the material in these two links:

Here, on Huffington Post, Rabbi Adam Jacobs, Managing Director of Manhattan’s Aish Center, writes on “Kabbalah and the 32 Types of Consciousness” — bringing understanding to how we may “…live balanced lives in a stable yet meaningful spiritual equilibrium.”

And here, courtesy of (or, you can link directly from Rabbi Jacobs’s piece), is a stunning, life-altering presentation from brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor, who experienced a brain hemorrhage and massive stroke, consequently embodying the integration of science and spirituality in her own awareness. The video runs just over 18 minutes.

Perhaps you, like me, will find it illuminative and spellbinding from beginning to end. Tears and chills of recognition are, as always, optional.

3 thoughts

  1. te’kia,

    I love your line, “I always felt that others just don’t understand what I understood or saw what I saw, whatever it was.” That one line speaks volumes for so many! So glad you resonated with the post.


    The way in which Jill Bolte Taylor expresses her experience is so utterly authentic and wise and self-loving and intimate and real: No wonder she was given such a rousing ovation from her audience. A diva in the very best sense of the word! Yes, what a profound gift she has given us all.


  2. Great article, Rachel. It’s so important that this sort of material be available to those souls who feel so alone, so misunderstood, and so “other than”. Jill Bolte Taylor is truly one of my heroes. When she first spoke at Ted, I cheered. What insights she has given the world. And us.


  3. I haven’t experieced any traumic brain injury but when I was a kid and even now, I always felt very different from the world. I did and still do process information differently than others. As a child I’d prefer to have deep meanigful conversations over childish jibberish of he said/she said nonesense. I still do. I always felt that others just don’t understand what I understood or saw what I saw, whatever it was. It’s something that earned me the title “the voice of reason” in middle school. I don’t know how that came about. Anyway, this is a wonderful post. thanks for sharing it!!


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