It amazes me how much more there is in life to experience by keeping a beginner’s mind. By maintaining freshness in perspective. By approaching each experience as if it were our first one and keeping an open mind. The minute we think we are experts in anything-we have ceased growing. There is always more to learn, know and experience in each moment, even if we have been through the same thing a million times. Its this possibility of a richer experience that is lost when we lose the beginner’s mind:
This beginner’s mind can have a profound effect on our happiness. I’m reminded of this episode when I invited a friend along to yoga class. I somehow had the perception that I was more *advanced*, less of a beginner than her. and then in class, there was a difficult pose which I could not do, and she could. And there was a tiny seed of competitiveness in me..a small fraction, but I knew it was there. Obviously, people have different abilities in different things..and yet, if I had thought of myself as a beginner, I would always approach a pose as a beginner with no expectations-and any kind of comparison drops..When we become beginners in whatever we do, we open to the possibility that this time is unique, this moment is unique, and this experience is special, whether good or bad. All expectations drop, and there is a freedom which opens up..the idea that there are no limits.
I have often found this to be true in work. If the notion of expertise comes into my head, I become less receptive to new ideas than I would otherwise..Even while cooking, if I think I’m an expert at something, I’m more likely to mess up than when I approach the dish as if it were my first time, and give it my concentration and mindfulness. The experience then becomes something else! and I’m reminded over and over again, the importance of maintaining a beginner’s mind.
Cultivating a beginner’s mind is a practice. It means to consciously empty our minds of all our preconceived notions, in each moment over and over again. and this starts with awareness of our current state of mind. In each moment, to label our notions, refrain from judging, simply notice and come back to the present. once we start to become aware of how much stuff we carry in our minds, it can actually be funny at times, the warped rationalities our mind uses to assure us of how right we are. All the drama it keeps us occupied with. As we start to see the traps and start to let go of the notions, we start to experience real freedom and openness. A true expression of who we really are-beyond all the drama and beyond all the limitations.
May we all practice the beginner’s mind, in everything we do.
With Love, S.