What Does "Blow Your Mind" Mean?
"Blow your mind" is an English idiom that means that something has had a profound effect on someone's brain. This phrase takes its meaning from its exaggeration, since something that literally blew one's mind would kill the person in question. In a positive sense, "blow your mind" generally means that someone has been stunned or overwhelmed by something they have experienced. There can also be a negative meaning attached to the phrase if the person has been adversely affected by whatever has taken place.
It is common in the English language for people to pepper their speech with idioms. Idioms are phrases which take on a meaning that is different from the literal meaning of the words in the phrase. Through popular use in a culture, these idioms grow meanings that are instantly understood by speakers and listeners who realize that they should not be taken literally. One of the most vivid of these idioms is the phrase "blow your mind," which immediately conjures up imagery of a memorable and affecting experience.
This phrase gains its meaning from the fact that, for something to blow one's mind, it must be an unforgettable event. Such an experience may have an effect that forever alters the person who is the subject of the phrase. Indeed, the phrase is often used in conjunction with some sort of cultural event. Imagine someone saying, "You have to hear this album, because I'm telling you that it will blow your mind."
Of course, if someone were to literally have his or her mind blown, it would be a horrible event. This is perhaps how the phrase has been attached at times with a negative meaning. Most often, this occurs in the context of some sort of drug use that causes irreparable harm to someone. For example, someone might say, "All those years of doing cocaine really blew her mind and now she's in really bad shape."
"Blow your mind" is an extremely descriptive phrase when considering the literal implications of the words. The idiom can also be shortened to the term "mind-blowing" and used as an adjective. In that usage, an individual might say, "Reading that book was a mind-blowing experience; I see the issues totally differently now that I have read it."
I missed out on the 60s, but I remember my older siblings talking about music albums that "blew their minds" or certain pharmaceuticals that were "mind blowing". I remember thinking that idea sounded pretty good to me. I looked forward to my first mind-blowing experience. I think it was the first time I saw the movie Star Wars. I couldn't believe a movie could look like that, with real lasers and big explosions and space ships. It truly blew my twelve year old mind.
Of course, other things have blown my mind since then. I thought Pink Floyd's concept album "The Wall" was mind-blowing, since no other group was using all of those sound effects and orchestras and choirs to make great music like that. I also thought the cult TV series "Twin Peaks" was mind-blowing, because the director and cast weren't trying to tell a logical story in a linear way. I was blown away by the first season's episodes.
I think it was Emily Dickinson who wrote something about having the back of her head blown off whenever she read really good poetry. I'm sure the expression was already popular before her time, but that's the first time I ever read about someone actually having her mind blown by an amazing fact or concept.
I've used that expression a few times when I tell people about books that changed my life. For instance, when the narrator of "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" re-integrates with his alter ego Phaedrus, my mind was truly blown. I should have seen it coming, but when it actually happens, it's a lot to take in all at once.
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