Cultivating a Flexible Mind

If it seems like I do a lot of posts about the mind, you’re right! Ultimately, navigating life is a mind-gig, and the path of sustainability is no exception.

Often I’ve written about the importance of learning to surrender; let go of attachments to certain outcomes, certain viewpoints. This isn’t the same as not caring about an outcome, or not having a viewpoint; it’s just a willingness to open up to the possibility that yes, I can go on living even if my preferred outcome gets “outvoted,” so to speak.

Sometimes, the word we use can affect how we feel about something. Like, for me, sometimes “surrender” feels a little too passive; a little too much like “giving up.”

I feel the same way about the word “non-attachment,” as in “cultivating non-attachment.” It has sort of a numb feel to me, like some “spiritual” people I’ve met who seem so nonattached that they hold everything at an abstract distance, even their own feelings. Our feelings are part of our moral compass; we need access to them.

And yet I know from experience that surrender, cultivating non-attachment, whatever phrase you prefer to call it by, is an extremely healthful and helpful practice, not only for increasing one’s peace of mind but also for accomplishing one’s mission of good works in the world.

A new article from DailyOM–one of my favorite blogs about managing our inner landscape (or “Zone Zero-Zero” as we call it in permaculture)–uses a phrase I really like: “developing a flexible mind.” This is really what surrender and nonattachment boil down to: expanding our minds; becoming more flexible and supple as opposed to rigid and brittle.

Same concept; different feel. Use whichever word(s) or description(s) work for you, but I cannot overstate how powerful this practice is.

Further Reading:

Mind Stretching ( “Having a flexible mind makes navigating life much easier, as you are not thrown off course easily. Flexibility is the capacity to bend without breaking, as well as a continual willingness to change or be changed in order to accommodate new circumstances. People with flexible minds are open to shifting their course when necessary or useful; they are not overly attached to things going the way they had planned. This enables them to take advantage of opportunities that a more rigid person would miss out on. It can also make life a lot more fun. When we are flexible, we allow for situations we could not have planned, and so the world continues to surprise and delight us.” Go read the rest; it’s a goodie. Enjoy!

• “Adopting another way of looking at things is a simple act that can have magical consequences.” — Harry Palmer, in his book The Avatar Path: The Way We Came. (Harry is the author of The Avatar Course materials and several books. The ability to deliberately change viewpoints is one of the skills I got to learn and practice by reading Harry’s books and taking the course.)