“A person with a limited outlook who is unwilling to consider alternative ideas, perspectives or thoughts. An example of narrow minded is a person who has a strong political position and who will not even listen to debates or arguments from the other side.” ~ Yourdictionary.com
Hmm, yeah. I’m sure we’ve all been cornered (or had psychic vomit spewed on us) by that sort once or twice.
In contrast, Spacious Mind would be a sort of ‘open mindedness’, the opposite of Narrow Mindedness — at least contrasting the definition above, ya think?
In truth, both Narrow Mind and Spacious Mind have their gifts, and both have their toxic shadow-sides.
We benefit from the gifts, and are often harmed by the toxic expression.
How can we access their gifts and lean away from or transform the toxic stuff?
In his book The Divine Feminine in Biblical Literature, the Rabbi Rami Shapiro notes the difference between narrow and spacious mind.
That which comes out of narrow mind, Shapiro says, tends to be “fear-based, and serve to enforce the power of the few over the many.”
“The teachings that come from spacious mind are rooted in love and compassion, and serve to establish justice irrespective of rank,” Shapiro finishes.
The difference in behaviors is marked: It’s “not only an altered state of mind (moving from narrow to spacious), but an altered trait of behavior, moving from selfishness, fear, and narcissism to justice, compassion, and humility.”
Most spiritual practices — whether from within a tradition or outside of one — have centered on promoting spacious mind as a way of elevating what gets focused through narrow mind.
You know, “The greatest of these is Love,” “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” “Where your heart is, there too is your treasure,” and so on?
Yes, there be actual practical wisdom there.
We get some clues from modern neuroscience on the pros and cons of narrow mind and spacious mind — open mind or closed mind — from Andrew Newberg, M.D.’s research on the neuro-effects of consciousness, spiritual practices, and religious experiences.
The fear-based, ‘power-over’ sort of narrow mind that Rabbi Shapiro refers to seems to sync with what Andrew Newberg’s research shows about the Lizard Brain connection.
Spacious Mind, on the other hand — activated by peak experiences, certain spiritual practices, Near-Death Experiences, and so on — seems to connect with what’s observed when a part of our brain gets activated and opens us to the gifts of the ‘higher brain’.
Spacious Mind, higher brain gifts include access to creativity, creative thinking, empathy, compassion, intuition … a pretty impressive gift set.
Narrow Mind — fear-based and related constricting stuff — activates the Lizard Brain part of us and apparently narrows or suppresses the ‘brain bridge’ (anterior cingulate) to the higher brain and its gifts.
The spiritual and the scientific. Narrow Mind and Spacious Mind. The common traits associated with each.
In astro-speak, this would be Saturn and Neptune, currently tight in their square-off with each other in the skies.
Saturn is noted for a fear-stirring, constricting, narrowing archetypal and energetic effect.
Neptune is noted for the more ‘spacious minded’, boundary dissolving, inspiration-stirring, Divine-connecting effect.
What does it look and sound like – how do we notice it?
That Saturn and Neptune are in tight (exact) square just now means that we notice this polarity of Narrow Mind and Spacious Mind, closed mind and open mind, intolerance and tolerance, focus and lack of focus, clarity and confusion, fear and faith …
How can Narrow Mind & Spacious Mind benefit us?
Neptune (Spacious Mind and that which stirs it) helps us to access inspiration, imagination, a sense of wholeness and interconnection, Divine guidance, the Muse, intuition, and faith (which, in its scriptural sense, means ‘confidence’).
Then we can tap the narrowing power of Saturn, more constructively to focus and dedicate ourselves to bring the inspiration received into the ‘manifest world’ (Saturn) — as an artist takes the inspiration to the canvas, or a writer takes the Muse-speak to the page.
See how the polarity works in ‘real world’ experiential ways?
As we’re aware, we can choose ‘balancing remedies’ — balancing the Saturn and Neptune, Narrow and Spacious Mind to receive the gifts of each — and those practices that let us more easily lean into the states of being that we prefer and that are more artful … and healthful as well.
Find more heartful inspiration in these Sophia’s Children musings:
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