Practicing Beginners Mind: Time for a Shift in Perspective
By Michele Rae
Sometimes I enter a new experience or encounter and prejudge how it is going to go. I have attached meaning and a story that is made up in my mind. I make assumptions and conjure up expectations before the moment even occurs. It is so automatic, so conditioned, and so limiting!
As 2020 approaches a close, I feel called to examine and challenge this habit. There are so many new possibilities arising in my mind and life daily! We are discovering new ways to navigate in the new era emerging! I am committed to cultivating beginners mind. I am intentionally nurturing an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions as I live moment to moment, just as a beginner would. When I maintain a beginner’s mind, the world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. I am more open to learning by seeing this moment for the first time.
Through beginner’s mind I see another mindfully, free from my artificially restrictive views. Without prejudging, I listen more deeply and see more clearly. Today is the day to give our allegiance to being with others with an open beginner’s mind. Now is the time to listen deeply, heal from the trauma we have individually and collectively experienced, and commit to new beginnings where everyone is known to be sacred.
Here are a few quotes and resources on developing and deepening beginner’s mind.
“For there are moments,” says Rilke, “when something new has entered into us, something unknown; our feelings grow mute in shy perplexity, everything in us withdraws, a stillness comes, and the new, which no one knows, stands in the midst of it and is silent.”
Here is a beautiful 3-minute video “Beginner’s Mind” by – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Shunryu Suzuki wrote Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice. Here is a quote:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”
You are invited to contemplate where you are in this moment. It is possible to have a fresh answer and experience every day to the following questions:
Who am I?
What is real?
What is love?
What do I value?
What is my passion?
What is my purpose?
What is my inner guidance?
What is my optimal choice today?
Here is another tool I use from my book, Living From the Center Within: Co-Creating Who You Are Becoming pages 104-105.
Invitation to Practice
Choose one of the following qualities and focus on practicing it continuously for two days. Write and/or draw about your experience. You can repeat this exercise, changing words every two days. Add your own qualities you would like to expand in your life.
Qualities of I am Interconnected
- Non-judging: impartial witnessing, observing the present, moment by moment without evaluation and categorization.
- Non-striving: non-goal oriented, remaining unattached to outcome or achievement, not forcing things.
- Acceptance: open to seeing and acknowledging things as they are in the present moment. Acceptance does not mean passivity or resignation, rather a clearer understanding of the present so one can more effectively respond.
- Patience: allowing things to unfold in their time, bringing patience to ourselves, to others, and to the present moment.
- Trust: trusting both oneself, one’s body, intuition, emotions, as well as trusting that life is unfolding as it is supposed to.
- Openness: seeing things as if for the first time, creating possibility by paying attention to all feedback in the present moment.
- Letting go: non-attachment, not holding on to thoughts, feelings, experiences; this does not mean suppressing.
- Gentleness: characterized by a soft, considerate and tender quality; this is not passive, undisciplined or indulgent.
- Generosity: giving in the present moment within a context of love and compassion, without attachment to gain or thought of return
- Compassion: the quality of feeling and understanding another person’s situation in the present moment, his or her perspectives, emotions, actions, and being with them without needing to fix, judge or change the person or the situation
- Gratitude: the quality of reverence, appreciating and being thankful for the present moment
- Loving kindness: a quality embodying benevolence, compassion and cherishing; a quality filled with forgiveness and unconditional love
May the close of 2020 bring you more into alignment with your Center Within as you too practice beginner’s mind.
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