4 Unconventional Ways To Expand Your Mind
The concept of neuroplasticity is one of intense fascination — to me, at least — and extraordinary value.
To know that who we are, and the lives that we lead, are the products of what we feel and think with habitual frequency is exciting because we possess the power to transform our habits of feeling and thinking.
Even though transforming our habits of feeling and thinking can be difficult, more often than not, it is a lot easier than we assume, and the value of engaging in such an act is far greater than the temporary challenges it brings.
But, this essay isn’t going to be about that. Rather, this essay is going to be about another, related, topic that, for brevity’s sake, we’ll just call “mind expansion”.
So, What Does “Mind Expansion” Mean?
Everyone has their own habits. I do not claim to know what other people’s habits are, nor do I claim to know the value of those habits. But, what I do claim to know is that there are an endless number of habits that can be created, and that our ability to create new habits is, in turn, infinite.
The value of a good habit cannot be overstated. But, despite the value that good habits often bring, good habits can easily lead to a sense of boredom, due to a lack of novelty and, in turn, mind expansion.
So, within this context, the term “mind expansion” means stepping away from familiar habits, towards things — and “things” can mean anything, but we’ll say that it, primarily, means experiences — that are unfamiliar, if only to some extent, and that allow us to expand our sense of what is possible and who we are.
A good habit is valuable beyond words. But, the value of stepping away from good habits, and engaging with the novel and unique, is just as valuable, if not moreso. For it is through the act of doing just that, that we are able to expand our minds and the facets that comprise who we are and what we believe to be true.
Recently, various findings in the field of neuroscience have shown that one of the easiest, and most fundamental, ways of expanding your mind and embracing the inherently flexible nature of your mind is to engage with experiences that go outside of your habitual patterns and tendencies. By doing this, you can more easily engage with your mind in a way that allows for positive transformations, while also experiencing more of the limitless beauty and wonder that this world offers.
But, of course, for you to expand your mind, it helps to know the kinds of experiences that may allow you to do so. That’s why I’ve written this essay; so that you can get a few ideas as to how you might do that, and so I have some good ideas that I, too, can work with.
Right now, there are plenty of essays and articles that share a plethora of ways you can expand your mind. Many of these essays and articles are fantastic. But, quite a few of them, based on what I’ve read, say the same things over and over again. That is why I’ve taken extra care to give you — and, in turn, myself — four very unique ways — or “mind-expanders”, as I call them — you can expand your mind and embrace the malleable nature of your mind and the limitless potential that you possess and are!
Mind-Expander 01: Perform An Inner Conversation Regarding Your Tremendous Wealth
The concept of inner conversations is one that I bring up a lot. There’s a few good reasons for that, but the main one is that, for me at least, it works extremely well at transforming my assumptions and transforming the various facets of my life.
To perform inner conversations successfully — in a manner that gets results — you have to go beyond what’s in front of you and what you feel is true, to that which you truly desire, as if it is a present fact. This is, of course, inherently mind-expanding.
But, it’s a little too easy to move forward a little bit — enhancing your wealth to some extent, for example — and then to remain there, for fear of “rocking the boat”. Remaining in that position is far from bad, but it does mean that you aren’t engaging with any new patterns or assumptions, and this can lead to certain limits solidifying, making it harder to move forward in various areas of your life.
For this mind-expander, then, the main idea is to engage with an inner conversation regarding your tremendous wealth. By “tremendous wealth”, I am referring to a level of wealth that goes beyond what seems feasible to you — we’ll say hundreds of millions of dollars, but the exact number does not matter very much. Rather, what does matter is the extraordinary freedom that such wealth gives you, and the security that exists alongside, and informs, that freedom.
To perform an inner conversation, you can follow this guide, which I wrote back in 2019. But, as you do so, go beyond your assumptions regarding freedom and simply play with the idea that you are so very wealthy and, in turn, so very free. So very free to live anywhere in the world, to enjoy any sensory pleasure, to meet the most powerful and interesting people, to pursue any project or endeavor with confidence; and so much more.
Engaging with an inner conversation of this sort will expand your mind and allow you to think about wealth, and yourself, in new and exciting terms. But, along with that, doing so will, assuming you feel that wealth as being a reality, bring tremendous wealth into your own life, much of which will, likely, take a form that surprises, yet pleases, you.
Mind-Expander 02: Pursue The Reflections Within Your Deepest Passions
Within Mahayana Buddhism, there is a concept known as “Indra’s Net”. Indra’s Net is — please forgive me if some of this is inaccurate — an infinitely vast net of cords that hangs directly over Indra’s palace. Every vertex, within this infinitely vast net, contains a jewel, and every single jewel is reflected in every other jewel.
The concept of Indra’s Net is meant to illustrate the interconnectivity of all things. Everything is, to some extent, a reflection of everything else, and everything contains all things within itself.
To expand your mind, while using this metaphor, I would like you to think about your greatest passions. These can be anything, but they must be passions and they must be passions that you feel very strongly about.
For myself, this would be writing.
Right after thinking of a passion, I want you to consider the “reflections” that are built within this particular passion. This metaphor, that of “reflection”, is, I’m afraid, rather shoddy. But, it works well for what I am about to describe.
Every deep passion of yours contains reflections of other passions, moments in time, assumptions, beliefs, symbols, memories; ad infinitum.
For writing, these reflections consist of passions such as storytelling, my interest in the beauty of language, the development of processes and methods that can lead to happiness, a deep interest in spiritual ways of thinking; as well as so much more. Looking beyond just passions, and examining the moments in time that comprise certain reflections within this passion, leads me to my first memories of reading, the earlier memories of writing essays for my first-grade class, and my knowledge of the printing press and then the first word processing program that was created. Examining the assumptions inherent within my own understanding of the writing process allows me to think about qualities such as my own supposed skill as a writer, the assumption that the way I use words has value, and whether or not words are “alive”.
As you can see, the process is often a little strange, and the results of such a process are often far stranger. That is why, to do this, I recommend setting aside a little bit of time and, with a writing utensil of some sort, thinking about a favorite passion of yours and allowing yourself to see the interests, activities, moments in time — and anything else within this boundless net of possibilities — that are reflected within this passion.
Not only is doing this a tremendous amount of fun, but it reveals the interconnected nature of all things, while also giving you so much to consider, learn, experience, and play with!
Beyond that, however, there is no reason why you can’t use this same manner of thinking to explore and engage with anything — not just your passions — in a way that inevitably leads to an expansion of your mind!
Mind-Expander 03: Surrender To A New Way Of Breathing
The science behind breathing is vast. I am not, in any way, capable of describing or summarizing this science. But, what I can say is that our way of breathing — the way that you breathe, specifically — is, quite simply, only one way of breathing. There are many, many ways of breathing, and every manner of breathing is not only distinctive, but just as valid as the way that you breathe and the way that I breathe.
Even though there is nothing wrong with the way that you breathe, that doesn’t mean experimenting with a new way of breathing lacks value. Rather, experimenting with a new way of breathing allows you to expand your mind, while also producing some noticeable shifts in your body and mind, both of which come forth as a product of transforming your breath.
Right now, you can go online and find a wide assortment of breathing methodologies and techniques. Many of these belong to various philosophies — there are many breathing techniques within certain Yogic philosophies, for example — and I encourage you to find a philosophy that speaks to you, and to engage with the breathing methodologies found within that philosophy.
Making the choice to surrender to a new way of breathing, if only for a few minutes or a few days, will expand your sense of what is possible, while also transforming your body and mind in demonstrable ways. These effects may be quite nice, or they may not; but, in the end, you’ll know what a new way of breathing feels like, and you will have expanded your sense of what’s possible.
Mind-Expander 04: Listen To A Favorite Piece Of Music
The last mind-expander may seem silly. You’ve already listened to your favorite music a lot, presumably, since it’s your favorite music. But, despite this being the case, there is a question that I would you like to think about: have you ever sat down with a favorite piece of music, and given that music your full attention and concentration?
Many of us — and, by “many of us”, I am really speaking of myself and myself only — listen to music while we are driving, walking, working, or cleaning; among so many other activities. And this makes plenty of sense, because the right music can make any task, no matter how mundane it may be, a lot more enjoyable!
But, it is very easy for us to listen to the music we love while engaged in those other activities and, in turn, failing to give it our full attention. For a lot of us, I assume, that’s the primary mode of listening to music: while doing something else.
The simplest way to expand your mind, then, is to move away from that pattern. Find a piece of music that you would consider to be “the favorite” or “a favorite” — no matter what, it must be a piece that you love — and then find a quiet place to sit or lay down, put some headphones in, turn the music on, and close your eyes.
My experience with this practice — and, of course, this experience may not reflect your own — has lead to me noticing so many details that, before really listening to the music, were invisible. But, even more than that, a series of memories and unique ideas always seems to come while really listening to my favorite music and, as this is happening, I always find myself immersed in a sea of feeling that only heightens my appreciation for that particular piece of music, as well my appreciation for the limitless power of music, in general, to evoke innumerable moods and feelings.
In the end, I hope you enjoyed reading this essay, and I very much hope that you try out some of what I’ve written! As always, if you want to write to me for any reason, any reason at all, you can do so at “email@example.com”!
Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you have a truly blessed day!