Format Your Hard Drive: Brain Hemispheres Go Offline

Mural of person's head with art.

Spiritual awakening can bring on a major reformatting of your brain, a bit like wiping a hard drive.

It’s not uncommon to hear people speak of enlightenment in computer terms, such as getting downloads and wiping a hard drive.

These sound like benign computer admin tasks, but when it’s your brain that’s getting wiped, it can feel downright terrifying.

For instance, there are some people who have reported being unable to do routine learned tasks after sudden enlightenment, such as driving.

Can you imagine suddenly not being able to drive for years? For a while, I was unable to read. I would see the letters, but they had no meaning to me. There were periods where I knew what a thing was, but did not know the name of it…common everyday things like spoons or doors or chairs. The “Name That Object” function of my brain was temporarily incapacitated.

Over a period of two years or so I would be driving on the freeway when, suddenly, the part of my brain that knew how to drive without thinking about it (some call this the subconscious mind) went offline. I still had the knowledge of how to drive (a stick, no less) in my declarative memory. I could describe how to do it. But in order to drive, I had to think about every single action, much like you do when you are first learning a complex skill such as riding a bike or driving. But this switch took place when I was already on the freeway with thousands of other cars, going 70mph. It happened at complete random.

Over the years, at various times, either my right or left brain functions seemed to just go offline.

It was much more extreme and happened more often in the beginning and seemed to taper off after two or three years. The most recent experience was two years ago when I noticed several times that I was suddenly about to pass out. The reason was that I had stopped breathing. Breathing is supposed to be controlled by the autonomic nervous system, which conveniently breathes for you. For a period of around 6 months that function would randomly go offline and I would suddenly find myself without oxygen. This only occurred during the daytime.

I never imagined awakening would be so wonky, and so physical. It’s all about consciousness, as if consciousness was somehow separate from this mass of weird and splendid flesh. And also, enlightenment is supposed to be about bliss and clarity and something more. But in my experience it is sometimes inconvenient, scary and dangerous. I’ve had friends who just wanted me to tell them how awesome it is…and it is awesome, but it’s also a hailstorm of strangeness that is sometimes elevating and sometimes really debilitating in ways you might not expect.

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