Rationalizing the irratational, or why I think meditation makes sense.

I was a hard sell for meditation. In fact, I used to think it was a fraud. Hell, I thought all "alternative" therapy was fraud. I even thought yoga was just exercise for people who didn't really want to exercise.

Then I fell and hit my head, and in my efforts to get better, I have actually tried some of these new age, hippie practices.

Nowadays, I see alternative medicine in a whole new light. Sure, some of it still seems questionable to me -- especially Chinese herbal meds -- but the biggies -- meditation, yoga and acupuncture -- are all stuff I think everyone should try.

Especially meditation.

A lot of people, even those with solid knowledge, describe meditation as the practice of quieting the mind. I don't see it this way at all. Rather, I think of meditation as quieting the left brain (the rational side), so that you can experience the world through your right brain (the non-rational side).

I got this notion from a book called My Stroke of Insight, which was written by Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist who suffered a stroke on the left side of her brain. As her left brain flickered on an off in the first minutes of the stroke, she had the presence of mind to "study the moment". And when her left brain was on, she was OH MY GOD I'M HAVING A STROKE Jill Taylor and frantically looking for the phone to call 911. But when her left brain was off, she was OMMMMMM Jill Taylor, experiencing life as simply being, and not differentiating much between herself and the world around her. In the ensuing years of recovery, one her many, many struggles, was knowing that once her left brain was fully back online, the sheer bliss or nirvana she had come to know, as a result of her left brain shutting up for a little while and her right brain becoming her dominant center of consciousness, would once again recede into the background. To experience it again, she would have to consciously try to bring her right brain to the fore. In other words, she would have to meditate.

This highly rational explanation of meditation is a Big Deal for me, because I need, to quote Rod Stewart (or Tim Hardin!), a reason to believe. And Jill's explanation has become just that for me. Thank you, Jill.

To learn more about Jill Bolte Taylor, here is her TED presentation, one of the very best TED talks I've ever seen.