No matter what path of understanding or belief you have chosen to practice, open-mindedness has proven to be a beautiful gift of growth and peace in the lives of so many recovering and thriving individuals. Through it, new pathways can be engrained, new understandings can form, and old ways of seeing the world can evolve. Even the most destitute of situations and bleakest of realities can be transformed into opportunities of pure possibility.
So how do we maintain a state of open-mindedness while seeking to be part of our own collective healing and recovery? What ideas can help foster this kind of productive thinking? What steps can we take when recognizing the familiar discomfort of closemindedness to come back into a place of being open to what the universe has to offer?
In this article, we will explore some answers to these questions by setting out some possible guidelines to maintaining open-mindedness with the hope that it may spark a new point of view. You might feel inspired to share new ideas and budding perspectives with individuals around you.
Steps to Maintain a State of Open-Mindedness
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 without acknowledging all the different varieties of the unexpected that come into our day.
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 found in our day-to-day existence, help foster more comfortability 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 even begin to look forward to how the mystery will reveal itself.
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. 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 certain one stance to the extreme. Balance is a sort of antidote to patterns of extremity, and addiction.
So with that said, when a judgment or criticism comes, one way to practice open-mindedness is to ask a question, either to ourselves or to another, “why do I think this?” 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.
For many of us, it is a challenge to even bring ourselves to remember the pause in times where we shut down 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 and 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 leading to an open mind feel better than the alternative. Judgment does not feel as good as a curiosity. Likewise, spaciousness feels better than mental chatter. This might come as an overly simplified explanation saying essentially an open mind feels good. 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.
The very basis of motivation for trying these ideas for open-mindedness is the possibility of feeling better. For those in addiction or anyone in close ties with someone in addiction, feeling better is crucial to healing and regaining strength and wellbeing. 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.