Updated: Jul 28, 2020
A very wise woman recently told me that “Wisdom is a flexible mind." Since then I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means. What is a flexible mind? How do we develop a flexible mind?
The opposite of flexibility is rigidity. Rigidity leads to a closed mind that only can see things one way. Many people have a black-and-white way of seeing the world. But the truth is, there is very little in the world that is black-and-white. Most things, when we really think about them, are heavily nuanced. So perhaps a flexible mind just means being able to tune in to all the nuances, to the gray areas of life.
One way to keep our minds flexible is to not make assumptions. There’s a great book called The Four Agreements. I read this years ago and I always remember the section that talked about how the human mind makes assumptions and then believes them as truth. We make assumptions because we want there to be certainty. But very little in life is certain.
My meditation practice has taught me a lot about a flexible mind. In a really successful meditation I’m able to reach a state of mindlessness, if even for a moment or two. In this state of mind I am totally open, and at peace with whatever comes. In these moments, despite anything, in spite of everything, I can smile. And later as the day goes on I often revisit that previous peaceful state of mind. That is the gift of meditation. It keeps on giving even when you go about your daily life.
Perhaps a flexible mind means not being attached to things needing to go a certain way. We really don’t know what’s best for us sometimes. We often think we know, but in time we see that what we thought was best for us was actually not even close. Think of how many times this may have happened to you.
I’m still trying to figure out exactly what it means to have a flexible mind. (I’m trying to be flexible about my conclusions.) But I guess the first step is slowing down my thoughts, so I can have some space to figure it out.