The (In) dependent Mind: Where Art Thou?

“Independent.” It’s an eleven-letter word that has a separate meaning for everyone. Take away the “in” from independent and it becomes dependent (pun intended). Have you ever thought of the true essence of being independent? Of what it truly means to be liberated? If you have, then you surely know that it begins with the mind. An independent mind is what enables us to be truly enlightened.

You and me, we all know that our brain doesn’t exactly work with a hamster racing on a wheel. It’s really a refined piece of machinery that functions without a squeak. It’s a complex structure that needs to be well oiled like any other machine to ensure good performance. And no, that almond oil you apply to your hair is not going to magically massage your mind, however, mental stimulation will.

Mental stimulus is like a jigsaw puzzle that is missing an essential piece. This misplaced piece is what restricts us to conform to norms that develop our mind in a manner where even “freethinking” has to be confined within a predefined box. Even though independent or freethinking is something that is variable for every individual, it’s still not a widely accepted notion. Your way of contemplating something could be different from mine. We could be thinking of the same subject and view it from a distinct perspective.

If you’re a student who is currently studying in/were in school, you can walk down memory lane and imagine yourself as a 14 year old. One day in math class, you solved a math equation with a different technique and got the same answer as the teacher, but it was deemed wrong because it wasn’t done according to the way it was taught to you. The solution to the math equation was correct, and yet it was considered wrong. The teacher’s way of reaching a solution was different than yours.

There are abundant ways of accomplishing a simple task, if I didn’t follow the procedure that was dictated to me, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong. Our problem is, that we focus on things that don’t exactly matter. We pay attention to the process first rather than the end results whereas it should be vice versa.

Independent thinking isn’t something that will suddenly grow outside your window like a beanstalk sprouting from magic beans. And it can’t be climbed without the right support from your environment. Our principal aid is our schooling; the university or school we study at plays a significant role in the way we think.

Most of the time, our cognitive thinking abilities are blocked out by other people’s insights. We refrain from voicing our opinions because we fear rejection, in one-way or another. When we try to think ‘out of the box’ (a term coined according to an individual’s perception) it basically means that we’re going against the norm. We’re willing to question the ordinary and discover the extraordinary. The only way that can be achieved is if we break the shackles that are binding us, explore our own abilities and not be afraid of being different.

Our mind is not meant to be inert; it has the remarkable ability to perform innumerable functions in a split second. It’s faster than a supercomputer and it can expand as much as we allow it to but if we overpower our mind at an early age, and stop stimulating it, we might never be able to recognize the genius amongst us. Cognitive thinking is like a bird, the longer you cage it, the sooner it will forget to fly. It’s time that we set it free from old judgments and let it soar the skies of new understanding.

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