Mind War: Part Five -- Jailbreaking your Mind

In case you're not familiar with jailbreak in the tech sense, it's "to enable use of a consumer electronics product not intended by the manufacturer through the exploitation of software hacks."  Kate MacDonald cracked open the idea in a new way when she asked (on a private discussion forum) for techniques for "Jailbreaking your mind."

Note: I fully expect this to immediately go viral, as it seemed to spark something that spoke directly to people's experiences and a bunch of us were all over it. So full credit to Kate.

The suggestions in the discussion that followed were good and interesting and you can probably guess a lot of them (meditation made an appearance, as did plant substances). But technique aside, it got me to thinking: what is jailbreaking your mind FOR? What's the purpose?

That night, as I was drifting off to sleep, it came to me. What's important is not jailbreaking your mind, but what you do with it afterward. Let's take an example from the world of mobile communication.

When you hear people talk about jailbreaking, they are usually talking about their iPhones. The term among Android users is 'rooting' based on the early computer concept of having root access, though it means the same thing. So why do people jailbreak phones?
  • So they can remove 'bloatware' installed by the manufacturer or, more commonly, the carrier (like AT&T or Verizon). They deliver phones with their customized operating systems and applications that often serve no use other than boating the phone, slowing it down and taking up precious space.
  • So they can install 3rd party apps and software (like launchers or device trackers) that aren't sanctioned by the manufacturer. This is particularly relevant to the iPhone because Apple keeps tight control over what you can install on their products. You can install whole new operating systems on a rooted phone.
  • So they can jump carriers or travel more easily. A jailbroken phone can take a SIM card from any carrier or country. This means no roaming charges... ever, and the ability to follow the best deals.
The parallels here to the idea of jailbreaking your mind are striking. First of all, there's the idea that your mind is a consumer device. This sounds quite dystopian, but it's not inaccurate. With the amount of advertising, cultural conditioning, and propaganda we're subjected to, you have to ask how much of your mind is really your own? How much bloatware has been installed and what limitations do these ideas and memes place on your ability to do what you want? Jailbreaking your mind will allow you to fix those problems.
  • You can remove the bloatware that has already been installed by your environment. Harmful memes and falsehoods and limited ideas. They take up space and slow you down. You may not even realize it, as many of those items were installed from the time you were very young. And you don't know how much better your mind will run without them. 
  • You can "install" things that aren't sanctioned by your environment. Thought patterns, habits, perspectives, mental routines -- ones that you choose and that aren't blessed by society or your family or your culture. And you have the freedom to install and uninstall at will. This is still harder with your mind than with a phone, but it's not possible at all with a locked mind.
  • You can jump carriers or travel more easily. You can adopt alternate viewpoints, have a more multicultural perspective, and change your environment (through magic, yes, but in all sort of other ways as well) to better match your new mindset. You can travel more easily, more freely, and with fewer penalties -- and this goes far beyond literal physical travel.
So why don't more people jailbreak? Well, because there are risks. 

Jailbreaking can void your warranty. For your phone, that means that if something goes wrong, the manufacturer will not repair or replace it and your trade-in value with your carrier is null. And if you void the warranty on your mind, certain treatments (like varieties of talk therapy or medications) can stop working. And you will always be different from others, which means that your trade-on value goes down (your ability to trade on common experiences and ground in social situations). 

Jailbreaking can cause damage. Problems for your phone can include loss of battery efficiency, performance problems, viruses, and occasionally even bricking your phone (turning it into an expensive brick). It's also possible to damage your mind. No one likes to talk about this, but that doesn't mean it's not true. There's a reason that the more blunt tools for jailbreaking are usually administered and overseen by experts (like a Shaman). And even more gentle tools like meditation can be misused. Your energy levels and productivity can be impacted. And occasionally someone will brick their mind (though minds are way more resilient than phones).

Jailbreaking requires some knowledge and effort. It's not hard to jailbreak a phone. We've rooted several of our older Android phones. But you have to do the research, so you can make sure the instructions you find online are legit and won't cause you trouble. It's the same with your mind. It's not hard, but you have to figure out how you want to do it, sift through the masses of advice to find something that will work for your particular kind of mind, and then apply it.

Note, I should point out that some people have their minds jailbroken for them though external experience, which doesn't happen with your phone (at least I hope not). My personal mental jailbreaking happened when I was 18 and was done to and for me and not with my consent. It was about as pleasant as you'd expect from that description, which is to say not. But it was still up to me to pick up the pieces (yes, of my mind) and start figuring out what was different and what I could do with my newly rooted device. And my mind did feel more "rooted" than "broken." 

But despite any risk, my advice is almost always going to be: go for it! Because the benefits are well worth any risk and the risks can be easily controlled through a certain amount of patience and planning. But here's the rub. Jailbreaking doesn't make sense if you aren't going to take advantage of the benefits -- if you're going to run the same apps and bloatware and never change how you use your mind.


    1. This is a perfect, concise explanation of the phenomenon. And, as it happens, super relevant to my life right now. My mind was jailbroken when I was 15--maybe even earlier. Maybe it happened in stages. It wasn't my choice either, but it was all for the better I think. However I recently discovered that my trade-on value has dropped more than I thought, and my mind definitely needs some repairs. Or maybe I need to jump carriers. I don't suppose you are going to write about repairs anytime soon?

      1. Sorry I didn't see this comment earlier (bad auto notification, no cookie!). I like your suggestion to do a post (or maybe a series) on repairs for the mind. Though a lot of them are boring (broccoli, exercise).

    2. OMG this, this Bloatware! It's everywhere! I'm getting that this whole blog is about uninstalling bloatware.


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