“I saw that my life was a vast glowing page and I could do anything I wanted.” ~ Jack Kerouac
Losing one’s mind has a bad wrap. Sometimes in order to open your mind you must lose it. Sometimes in order to cultivate mindfulness you must embrace No-mind.
Sometimes the only way to discover that the “door to your jailcell has always been open” is to lose the mindset that conditioned you into thinking that you were trapped.
And that’s the sole purpose of losing your mind: to guard against mind traps and psychological hang-ups, to lose the fixed mind in order to discover that the mind is flexible.
Here are four strategies for losing your mind and building a new one.
1) Practice self-interrogation
“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds.” ~ Neil Gaiman
Question your old mind and then use the updated answers to build a new one.
Self-interrogation is all about digging down to the roots of the human condition, particularly your own conditioning. It’s about getting to the crux of an issue. In this case, the issue of recognizing outdated mindsets, learning from them, and then discarding them in order to build an updated mindset.
Self-interrogation is a sound strategy for losing your mind and building a new one precisely because it is a method that aggressively asks mind-opening, heart-expanding, soul-shocking questions. It proactively outmaneuvers cognitive dissonance by staying one step ahead of emotion through a ruthless form of higher reasoning that never settles for answers.
Instead, it tears apart any so-called answers. From the carnage, it honors what validates cosmic law and discards what doesn’t. But such honoring is still not an acceptance. Rather, it is a deep consideration for higher probability while still respecting the possibility that it could be wrong. As Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
But at least it is something to build upon. Honor what is deemed valid according to universal law while discarding the rest and then use that as a foundation to build a new mind.
2) Practice self-inflicted philosophy
“And Life confided the secret to me: behold, it said, I am that which must always overcome itself.” ~Nietzsche
Inflict yourself with philosophy in order to transform the way you perceive reality. Forget the head on your shoulders for a while and seek out the shoulders of giants instead. Stand on their shoulders to see further than they did. This is the epitome of self-inflicted philosophy.
This requires reading and autodidactism (self-education). More importantly, it requires reading more than just a couple of books. The single biggest mistake a seeker of enlightenment makes is settling upon the shoulder of a single giant and planting themselves there (reading and revering only one book and forsaking all others). This tends to breed the opposite of enlightenment: dogmatic thinking.
In order to avoid dogmatic thinking, or the slippery slope that leads into it, practice self-inflicted philosophy. This means aggressively pushing yourself out of your psychological comfort zone (losing your mind) by forcing yourself to see the world from the shoulders of multiple giants. Then it means taking the knowledge gained from such prestigious viewpoints and applying self-interrogation to interrogate your perception of it.
Honor what validates Universal Law and then discard what doesn’t. Then blend it all together with your own soul-signature voice and create your own unique philosophy from it. Rinse and repeat. Never settle.
Old mind begets new mind begets newer mind, ad infinitum. Self-inflicted philosophy is never complete. It is only ever in process. The journey is always the thing.
3) Practice strategic leaps of courage
“You are alive only if you embrace (some) volatility.” ~Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Your old mind, your safe and secure mindset, the mind that is tucked away at the center of your comfort zone, is precisely the mind that you must “lose” in order to build a newer, healthier, more updated mindset.
This requires taking a leap of courage out of your comfort zone. It requires testing fate. It requires taking risks. Healthy, progressive evolution has always been risky. Lest we give up, and merely remain stuck and stagnant in our thinking, risk taking is the only healthy and reasonable way forward. So we might as well get better at it.
Practice resilience. Cultivate robustness. Proactively transform yourself into an antifragile virtuoso. This requires multiple leaps of courage. Three in particular: the courage to question yourself, the courage to “destroy” (lose) yourself, and the courage to rebirth yourself.
In order to grow, and especially in order to grow in a healthy and progressive way, we must be willing to risk discomfort. A little uncomfortable self-improvement will equal an ever-expanding comfort zone. Daring ourselves to be uncomfortable is the biggest part of taking a leap of courage.
So, crucify your psychological crutches and culturally conditioned crosses. Get out of your own way. Lose your mind. Take the leap. Go crazy. As Richard Feynman said, “The first principle is to not fool yourself. And you are the easiest person to fool.”
4) Unbecome yourself through solitude and meditation
“The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.” ~C.G. Jung
This is perhaps the most powerful strategy for losing your mind and building a new one. Unbecoming yourself teaches humility.
It teaches you how not to take yourself too seriously. When you unbecome yourself you become everything. You’re free to experience interdependence despite conditioned codependence.
Unbecoming yourself cuts the flutter, and your oneness with all things becomes paramount. You’re suddenly out of your own way. You are free to become what you must become.
Your new mind, free from cultural clutter, hand-me-down values, and the clanking steel of the man machine, begins here: a precious little seedling planted in the cosmic loam.