“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki
The beginner’s mind is a beautiful thing. It is open to change, to the new, to something it has never seen before. It is malleable, impressionable and ready to receive. Imagine the first time you did something. That blaring realization that you know nothing.The overload of instruction, the newness of the instrument, the situation, the knowledge, the vocabulary. All. New.
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
Regardless of your age, experience, knowledge, expertise; imagine a world where everyone thought they knew everything. Not only would it be incredibly annoying (imagine all those know-it-alls) but it the propensity to learn would be squashed. Innovation would halt. The teacher would become stale, repeating only what they know. The investor would lose stock, investing in what they know. The student would be, well, not a student.
I am keeping this in the forefront of my focus today. The beginner’s mind is an important concept in my life, for I feel as though I am beginning and restarting over again quite often. Perhaps this is just the way you feel in your twenties- a bit lost, a bit naive, but far too old to admit it (unless you’re sitting in a cafe and writing a blog post on it).
There is something miraculous that spawns out of admitting not knowing.
It relieves us of the duty of knowing it all, of being correct. We can sit back, take instruction, learn exponentially and watch with open eyes.
Imagine what beautiful things would happen if we just stopped relying on what we know and what we think we know. If we instead opened up to collaboration, learning something new, taking a leap of faith and placing ourselves in front of the seat of a teacher.
Today, I am a beginner. I am a twenty six year old human. I am a two year old writer. I am a eight year old yogi. I am a ten year old surfer. I am starting anew. I am always a student. I am always learning. Aren’t we all?
Practicing the beginner mind starts today. It starts now.
1. Notice your reactions.
If you are NOT a beginner, think about whether you look at something and say “yes, but“. Take that but out of there. Say yes. Only yes. Don’t speak, instead listen. Don’t interject your experience, your voice, your knowledge. Take it in as if you were new.
2. What can you learn from this situation?
In step 1, you are watching your reactions. You are staying quiet. Next, you are noticing what you can take away from this situation. I’m not talking about sitting in a classroom with a notebook and pencil in hand. I’m talking about sitting in traffic, standing in line, being late. What can you learn from this? In traffic, have a first-time frame of mind, what can you take away from it? Patience for the person who had a car accident? Gratitude for having a job to drive to? For having a car to even be stuck in traffic? Noticing the scenery along the road?
It is a simple exercise in awareness to see things the way a newbie would.