How Your Brain is like the Play-Doh Fun Factory (and how this Can Seriously Improve Your Quality of Life)

Your brain is an appliance. A physical apparatus. 

It’s a little like the Play-Doh Fun Factory (which is modeled after a pasta maker in case you aren’t familiar).

You select an extruder plate (an extruder plate is one of those things that looks like a stencil with shapes cut out) to place over the opening.

Then you shove the Play-Doh in, crank the handle, and the Play-Doh comes out in the shape through which it was forced.

It comes out big and round, narrow and squiggly, or shaped like a star or a heart.

It’s purple or red or most likely, multicolor (because c’mon…what kid actually keeps their Play-Doh colors separate?)

The Play-Doh Fun Factory shapes the Play-Doh, but it’s not the Play-Doh. It’s just the apparatus. And the Play-Doh is the Play-Doh no matter what temporary shape or color it takes.  

There is no shape or color combination that would make Play-Doh no longer Play-Doh.

The form is always temporary. It doesn’t take long for that perfectly shaped squiggle to end up in a Play-Doh wad going back through the appliance, taking on a brand new, also impermanent shape and form.

It’s just like your brain and the energy that brings experience to life.

Life is made up of one energy. That single, formless energy takes infinite impermanent forms into everything from fingernails to frogs to thoughts and emotions.

You might love your own pet frog, or identify with your own habitual thoughts and emotions. But no matter how special they feel, your favorites are still essentially the same as the frogs you like less and thoughts you fail to notice.

Everything is essentially one thing; one essence with different hairstyles.

Formless energy is full of potential. Anything can—and sometimes does—take shape from that energy.

It’s like (but way better than) Play-Doh. Endless potential limited only by the extruder plate that happens to be in place. You, too. Endless potential, unlimited but steered and shaped by your own physical apparatus—your brain.

Energy takes form as a thought, craving, insight, or wave of emotion…maybe that’s the way your brain happens to steer it in that moment. But then it’s turned back into a shapeless wad, going back through the machine as quickly as a 3-year-old with the Play-Doh Fun Factory.

I recently had a conversation with my friend Kelli for her podcast titled Brain versus Mind. What’s the difference?

This. Everything. And also not that much.

One is an impermanent physical apparatus made of one single life energy. Brains are cool but they have a relatively short shelf-life and lots of limits. They are unlimited potential taking one possible little form.

The other is infinite and limitless, pre-form. It is permanent; has never not existed and will never cease to exist (how’s that for a shelf life?)

So why do we spend so much energy focusing our brain? Why do I get so many emails from people asking how to rewire their brain, and why are people so freaked out about how their brain happens to be shaping their Play-Doh at a particular point in time?

Well, the form is visible. The brain is a thing and it’s easy to point to, study, and try to understand. It’s what we’ve been taught to measure and track. So there’s that.

But aside from that…it’s a little crazy, isn’t it? We have infinite potential running through us—a universe full of unlimited, free Play-Doh—and we’re caught up on the fact that our purple star came out wonky.

That same purple star that will take a different impermanent form faster than you can scrape Play-Doh off your kitchen floor.

Now that you see that there is another (invisible) place to look, I bet you start looking there more and more.


*I am not an affiliate for Play-Doh Fun Factory but I probably should be.

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