Cultivating Beginner’s Mind
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are only few”
I love starting new meditation groups and classes .. meeting new people and sharing my passion for meditation. It is such an honor (and pleasure) to meet each week and share experiences, challenges, and questions.
In the days leading up to a new series of classes, I also have an opportunity to re-connect with that sense of excitement I felt in the lead up to the start of a new school year .. you know it’s coming, you kind of know what to expect .. but all the many ‘parts’ of the surprise are still unknown, yet to unfold. I feel again like a child.
A reminder of the very important and beautiful Buddhist concept of ..
This is a highly valued state of being (or mind) both for life and for our meditation practice.
A Beginner’s Mind is a mind of curiosity and sense of wonderment. When we are learning something new (like meditation) we are in a unique position to truly experience the concept of Beginner’s Mind. If we are open to the experience as it unfolds, with no sense of ‘getting’ or ‘getting from’ .. Open and awake and fresh … welcoming and curious to all the infinite possibilities of what the present moment may bring.
“Hmm what’s my practice going to be like today?”
Beginners mind is similar to a child’s mind; full of simple amazement and curiosity. Attention is brilliantly and easily captured in exactly whatever is happening in the moment.
When my daughter was younger I remember excruciatingly long walks where a whole world seemed to exist in the first footpath crack .. no sense of urgency to get somewhere, or cross it off the ‘to do list’ .. it was all about the wonders of the journey ..
wow, what is it? how come? why?
If someone has practiced meditation before, possibly had a wonderfully enlightening experience (or a challenging or uncomfortable experience) then they often have a sense of needing to get (or avoid) a similar experience.
In this sense, they are coming to meditation with the expert mind, and unfortunately, since the expert believes they already have it figured out, or know it from a past experience .. then there is a subtle disconnection with what is actually unfolding – right now! By not needing to pay attention they often miss much of the experience!
Typically our adult minds are always judging and filtering, and habitually managing our life experience .. BUT the Beginner’s Mind has no fixed viewpoint, no likes/dislikes, no attachment to outcome, no judgments .. just, wow, what is this?
Secure in the unknowing, the Beginner’s Mind can be more open to actually see.. a mind free to be awake and fresh to whatever unfolds.
Is it possible to cultivate Beginner’s Mind during our day today? Can we be willing to not know, to not be the expert? Can we see what happens in our world without the little stories, without the habitual preconceptions?
Spring is the perfect time to freshen our view of the world .. it is happening naturally all around us! Let’s try to look afresh at our environment, our relationships, our lifestyle, thinking and patterns of behavior.
As the warm, clear air of Spring moves through us, can we recreate our world and see afresh? Can we hear differently, behave in a new way and open our hearts to a new view of the world?