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I'm looking for a phrase that describes the experience of limits, preconceptions and world-views being challenged, exceeded and revised. I convey this if I say something "blew my mind", but there is a casual and left-field tone that I'd like to avoid.

What's a more sober and professional way to describe this experience? The intonations of personal transformation and the revision of self-boundaries are important elements that I'm looking to include.

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I know you're looking for a more professional phrase, but my favorite variant of this is "blow your tiny mind." –  MT_Head Jun 11 '11 at 1:58

12 Answers 12

Made me think about X in a whole new way.
Gave me a new perspective.
Stunned / amazed / astonished me.

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Really like your first two, thanks. They convey that the experience was transformational. –  Ollie Glass Jun 10 '11 at 23:51

Here is a more professional one:

Swept me off my feet

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This seems to convey a sense of exhilaration but not of boundaries being revised and exceeded - there is a transformative element to 'blew my mind' that I'd like to retain. –  Ollie Glass Jun 10 '11 at 23:09
    
(1) This doesn't sound any more professional; (2) I almost always see this with the connotation of seduction/love at first sight, i.e. entirely the wrong meaning. –  Marthaª Jun 11 '11 at 0:42

Blown away, in the 3rd sense listed of "amaze" or "astound", is probably more formal-sounding that "blew my mind". For example:

I was blown away when that happened.

Or, have a look at synonyms for surprise. Try:

That was a revelation.

The experience filled me with wonder.

If the sense of otherworldliness is important, transcendent may be appropriate, as in:

That was a transcendent experience.

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I really like "that was a revelation", it gives the sense of the experience being a watershed in one's personal history. This is a vital aspect of the phrase for me. –  Ollie Glass Jun 10 '11 at 23:51
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+1 I like revelation too. I think it's perfect to describe a shift in your mindset or way of thinking that affects your whole life. Like a paradigm shift, only on a personal level. –  KitFox Jun 11 '11 at 0:27

A few more: "Sth. blew my mind" could also be expressed as follows:

  • It utterly shocked me.
  • I was flabbergasted.
  • I was dumbfounded (this one might more aptly convey the sense of "personal transformation and the revision of self-boundaries").
  • I was in awe of ...
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I'd submit: "Astound". E.g. "The speech really astounded me."

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Here's what I personally would use to express "mind = blown" in a sober and professional way:

The experience opened my eyes to ... [X]

where [X] might be "a whole new way of looking at the world" or some other expression indicating the domain in which the epiphany happened. Speaking of which, epiphany is a good word itself to describe that state. It means

a moment of sudden revelation or insight. [NOAD]

This is a synonym for the Buddhist term satori, which means "sudden enlightenment" (from the Japanese 悟り).

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I would say - "By George, that was something"

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Haha! Love that expression –  Thursagen Jun 11 '11 at 2:06
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It doesn't actually fit the register. –  Adam Feb 15 '13 at 0:10

If you are looking for an answer in a real sober mood without the use of any flowery language or superlative tense, I would put it like -

That was completely unexpected.

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These can't be used in an exclamatory way like blew my mind, but I think they might give the basic sense that you're looking for?

  • expand one's horizons
  • push the envelope
  • changed my perspective / worldview
  • take x to a new level
  • a paradigm shift

And my personal favorite:

  • is deserving of a fat end-of-year bonus

:-)

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It was a "paradigm-shifting" experience. See this wikipedia article.

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I like "my gray matter exponentially increased".

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That misuses exponentially. –  tchrist Feb 14 '13 at 19:14
    
I suppose you can use humor in the workplace, but the requested context sounds more like professional writing. –  Adam Feb 15 '13 at 0:13

You might consider something like:

X has genuinely transformed how I view the subject.

or

X's presentation really helped us think outside the box.

I also like (in some situations):

X's latest idea will knock your socks off.

It's also informal, but being much older than "blow your mind" (or so I think) it has a certain familiarity with older crowds; it's well-worn colloquial nature lends it potential utility in informal-yet-professional use cases. It also lacks potentially "sketchy" associations which some may have for "blowing one's mind".

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protected by tchrist Aug 13 at 14:41

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