The beginners mind

The days blur into one another – as I spend more time with Anjali and less time in pursuits of my own. This scares me sometimes – I must be doing something wrong! Why do I not remember the special feeling of a Friday – the end of the work-week? Now Friday feels like any other day!

It is moments like this that offer us the profound opportunity to cultivate beginners mind. Beginners mind is truly the challenge to cultivate when it is the same mundane routine everyday – snacks, meals, naps and diapers, laundry, washing dishes and more dishes, bath and playgrounds. It is also the most needed and the most rewarding. Because everyday routine offers a glimpse of something deeper – to be with our yearning for change and our resistance to change – both at the same time. To be with the conflict of breaking it up, and the comfort of holding it together. To see with new eyes what we didn’t think we could – and the possibility of it becoming something we couldn’t imagine.

All of this sounds lofty when you think of washing dishes and folding clothes. It is and it isn’t. Often when I’m washing dishes is when my mind is most caught up in planning ahead – meals, outings, emails and so on. And it is the coming back to this green plastic plate holding remnants of my daughters’ food that holds the key to my happiness: the reminder of a day of nourishment and satisfaction. It is this folding of small clothes that she is fast outgrowing – the blue frock with flowers she likes so much and which is way above her knees now in just a couple of months that reminds me of time passing by. This frock that I have to hide from her as I fold it, because otherwise she will want to wear this instead of what she is already wearing! Or her cute pajamas with blue cars that she looks so adorable in, in the morning when she wakes up next to us, having got there at some insanely early hour, her hair tousled, her spirit uplifted and ready for the day. Yesterday when she woke up, she pulled my hand and said ‘mama upping!’. Even in my sleep, I couldn’t help but smile.

These moments are what we get to take in when we cultivate the beginners mind. We get to see deeper into what we are really doing here. It is easy to forget that – in the midst of the tiredness and the reacting to a stream of needs and wants, disciplining and easing up and juggling schedules and trying to make it to that dance class or yoga or book group we so enjoy. We get to see that we are living, and there is love and this joy that is unfolding right in front of us, screaming at us to wake up and be restored in beauty and delight, this too will pass. So we may as well take it in.

With Love, S.


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