Keeping an Open Mind
No matter what path of understanding and belief you have chosen to practice, open-mindedness has proven to be, in the lives of so many recovering and thriving individuals, a beautiful gift of growth and peace. Through it, new neural pathways can be engrained, new understandings can form, old ways of seeing the world can evolve. And even the most destitute of situations and bleakest of realities can be transmuted into oases of pure possibility. So how do we then, in seeking to be a part of our own or our collective healing and recovery, maintain a state of open-mindedness? What ideas can help foster this kind of productive thinking? And what steps can we take, when we recognize the familiar discomfort of close-mindedness, to come back into a place of being open to what the universe has to oﬀer, and to all potential avenues for healing?
In this article we will explore some answers to these questions, through setting out some possible steps to maintaining open-mindedness, with the hope that it may spark a new set point that will aﬀect positive expansion for you and those around you, as you might feel inspired to share new ideas and budding perspectives, and partake in those shared with you.
Steps to Maintain a State of Open-Mindedness
• Acknowledge mystery
One key to open-mindedness is getting comfortable with the unknown. In the vastness of a universe that is inﬁnitely ﬁlled with possibilities, and constantly being refined and evolving, we can see that the unknown is becoming more known and what is still unknown may become more clear, but remains, to some extent, a mystery. We go through our days expecting things based on past experiences, expecting our daily pattern, without acknowledging all the diﬀerent varieties of the unexpected that come into our day, because for a lot of us the familiar, even if very negative, is comforting, because it’s known. There is a sort of safety about it. But even for a moment to entertain the idea that unknown variables abound, in our day to day existence, helps to foster more comfort with what will hopefully become known as a friendly and benevolent mystery. Though fear-inducing initially, because the unknown often feels scary, it is possible to get more comfortable with this mystery and to even begin to look forward to how the mystery will reveal itself, and how we can, with greater trust and allowing, become a cooperative component for this revelation.
• Question everything
At ﬁrst glance, this might sound exhausting and self-indulging. What I’m referring to is more in the sense of embracing the energy of curiosity, rather than criticism. It is so easy to criticize and judge. We are sort of hard-wired to do it. We are raised to categorize, for our own safety: good, bad, safe, dangerous, loved ones, strangers, etc. etc. and it serves a purpose a lot of the time. Most of our mental habits did originate to serve a purpose. It is simply a matter of bringing in balance so that we don’t take any one stance to the extreme. Balance is a sort of antidote to patterns of extremity, and addiction. So with that said, when a judgement comes or a criticism comes, or even before we are in that state, one way to practice open-mindedness is to ask a question, either to ourselves or to another, “tell me more about this,” perhaps, or “why do I think this, where did this come from.” Without leading ourselves into too much of an overly analytical wild goose chase, we can soften the energy of shutting down an opposing idea, create space for gathering more information, and foster a learning environment within ourselves as well as those to whom we may be reacting.
• Pause or meditate
Never underestimate the power of a pause when dealing with triggering individuals, diﬀering perspectives, or new information that might rub you the wrong way. An empty space is a space where inspiration can ﬂow. An empty mind is an open mind. We know that the body and the mind are connected, so when the body stops, it is easier to pause the mental chatter, to collect a sense of spaciousness, and to redirect close-minded energy, or blocks to further understanding, so that we can inﬂuence the world around us in a positive way, and in turn be inﬂuenced in a positive way. For many of us, it is a challenge to even bring ourselves to remember the pause in times where we shut down to new ideas or new understandings. Meditation, even just for 5 minutes a day, can help make this practice of pausing more familiar and trigger an inspired impulse to use it more regularly.
• Check in with feelings
The mind wants to grow, wants to expand in knowledge and understanding, like everything else in existence, there is a driving force of growth and expansion. It’s been my experience that thoughts and actions that lead to an open mind feel better than the alternative. Judgement does not feel as good as curiosity. Likewise, spaciousness feels better than mental chatter, and inspired thought feels even better than spaciousness. This might come as an overly simpliﬁed explanation-essentially that an open mind feels good. But I think it’s important to note, especially in a world where everyone is looking for good feelings, in places that are often unreliable, or inconsistent. I’m pretty sure that having a more open mind always feels better. Having an awareness of how we are feeling when entertaining a certain stance, or following a particular train of thought, can provide a lot of insight into those avenues of thought and awareness that contribute to an open mind, and to better feelings.
With that said, at the very basis of motivation for trying these ideas for open-mindedness, is the possibility of feeling better, and for those in addiction, or anyone in close ties with someone in addiction, feeling better is crucial to healing and regaining strength and well-being. And at the very loftiest end of the ambition spectrum, for trying on open-mindedness, is the hope of bringing peace, unity, and more intimate connection to a very diverse world. Now see, I just used my judgment and discernment to categorize the desire to feel better as less lofty than the desire to bring peace and connection to the world. But to practice open-mindedness candidly here, lets imagine for a moment that there is no more lofty pursuit than the pursuit of a positive direction, and whether your entering a positive direction, with the desire to feel good or with the desire to unite the world, either way- open-mindedness is open-mindedness, and the result is equally beneﬁcial to one individual and all who may cross their path. And that feels good.