This article includes excerpts from Living an Extraordinary Life by Christina Grote and Pamela Kramer. Find more information in the book.
In ITP, we celebrate the mind as both an essential part of who we each are—worthy of development in its own right—and as a tool to aid us in all aspects of our transformative journey. In some spiritual circles, the mind is seen as limiting and something to be overcome, but if we denigrate or demonize the mind, we deprive ourselves of one of the most extraordinary gifts of our humanity.
ITP addresses the mind with the inclusion of intellectual development as one of its core practice intentions and emphasizes the value of lifelong learning. In particular, we encourage the study of the philosophy that informs the practice. In this sense, viewing life as a journey of learning encourages us to be curious, to explore, and to acquire new information, skills, or expertise throughout our lives. And there is more. The mind does not exist in isolation. Research has shown that whatever affects the body affects the mind, and vice versa, and the development of one facilitates the development of the other.
The learning process itself has a physical effect on the brain. As we grow older, we must continue to learn and do new things, to challenge ourselves, and sometimes change up our comfortable routines in order to keep our brains healthy and our minds agile and open. To learn is to grow. Even doing little routine tasks differently has a positive effect. For example, if you are right-handed, try using your left hand to do a simple task, like putting your tableware back in the drawer or brushing your teeth. Or take a different route to get home. We need our environments to be stimulating in order to keep our brains growing, stave off dementia, and to sharpen our senses and reaction times.