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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Embracing the Beginner’s Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – author unknown

Beginner's Mind. I awoke this morning with these words at the forefront of my consciousness. I can't remember dreaming a context for the words but there they were. I know that in Eastern Philosophy, “beginners mind” is a concept that teaches us to put aside old ideas and beliefs and see things as if for the first time. It is about opening up our minds to new possibilities rather than being trapped by old experiences and judgements that may no longer serve us. Beginner's mind allows us to be open, creative, flexible and non judgmental of ourselves and others and to remain teachable.

Teachable, interesting. As we evolve our lives, we improve upon existing structures or change them. We eat healthier, excercise more, re-examine relationships, start businesses and end them. All good, but often problems often arrise when we judge our evolving and fear the very changes as bad-good, right-wrong, should-shouldn’t because we did or didn’t do something in the past. Our judgmental mind begins to boil and suddenly our self esteem has evaporated.

In a beginner’s mind there can be no “I am the ultimate expert", or "I am a clueless failure.” The empty mind (and open heart) is ready for anything! Teach me! What is today's lesson?

So, it must be with profound compassion for ourselves –the very, very vulnerable open heart – and with a beginner’s mind which we choose any new goal, structure, or journey. We must begin with childlike excitement and anticipation of what is to come and welcome any and all of the unexpected possibilities that may unfold.

When we decide the way it should be, it's going to be, in absolute certainty, without any flexibility, or tell ourselves we can’t do something, we smother any process of learning and growing. If there is a hidden lesson or wisdom waiting for us, a judgmental or pre-conceived mindset will never allow it's discovery.

Today I am going to create a gentle space for “I don’t know.” That means that I am going to embrace the idea that anything and everything is possible today. I will not allow my "expertise", which is a collection of past impressions and judgements of events, experiences, and ideas that happened once upon a time, to prevent me from experiencing the present, the only place where new insights emerge.

Today I intend to be teachable. Today I go forth with beginners mind. I can hardly wait for the sun to rise!

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