Connecting the Mind with the Body: Jill Bolte Taylor’s Whole Brain Living

Listen to the podcast on Inkandescent Radio The Gathering Room: Martha Beck interviews Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

In this fascinating interview between two Harvard professors, you'll get the inside scoop on the four characters of the brain and learn what "Whole Brain Living" really means.

“For half a century we have been trained to believe that our right brain hemisphere is our emotional brain, while our left brain houses our rational thinking,” explains Jill Botle Taylor, The New York Times best-selling author of My Stroke of Insight, whose new book, Whole Brain Living, blends neuroanatomy with psychology to show how we can short-circuit emotional reactivity and find our way to peace.

“Our emotional limbic tissue is evenly divided between our two hemispheres,” explains Dr. Jill. “Consequently, each hemisphere has both an emotional brain and a thinking brain.”

In this groundbreaking new book, Jill presents these four distinct modules of cells as four characters that make up who we are. She gives each a name (see Jill’s below) and invites us to do the same for the characters of our brain:

  • Character 1: Left Thinking (Helen: Hell on Wheels)
  • Character 2: Left Emotion (Abby: abandonment, panic)
  • Character 3: Right Emotion (Joy)
  • Character 4: Right Thinking (Love)

Everything we think, feel, or do is dependent upon brain cells to perform that function. Since each of the Four Characters stems from specific groups of cells that feel unique inside our body, they display particular skills, feel specific emotions or think distinctive thoughts.”

In Whole Brain Living, Dr. Taylor shows us how to get acquainted with our own Four Characters, readers observe how they show up in our daily life, and learn to identify and relate to them in others as well.

She introduces a practice called the Brain Huddle — a tool for bringing our Four Characters into conversation with one another so we can tap their respective strengths and choose which one to embody in any situation.

“The more we become familiar with each of the characters in ourselves and others, the more power we gain over our thoughts, our feelings, our relationships, and our lives,” Jill concludes. “Indeed, we discover that we have the power to choose who and how we want to be in every moment. And when our Four Characters work together and balance one another as a whole brain, we gain a radical new road map to deep inner peace.”

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist. In 1996 she experienced a severe hemorrhage in the left hemisphere of her brain, causing her to lose the ability to walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Her memoir, My Stroke of Insight, documenting her experience with stroke and eight-year recovery, spent 63 weeks on the New York Times nonfiction bestseller list and is still routinely the #1 book about stroke on Amazon. Learn more at