Beginner’s Mind Revisited!

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

“The more advanced you are in spiritual consciousness, the more you experience the “present” in the Beginner’s Mind.”

I have heard this expression, “Beginner’s Mind,” before and this week it has come up several more times in very different conversations. When a concept comes up several times in different situations… perhaps you should pay attention because the Universe is trying to tell you something. For me, this means writing about it and attempting to be more conscious regarding this concept and how I may want to apply it.

What is “Beginner’s Mind?”
Wikipedia defines “Beginner’s Mind” by first giving it it’s Zen name, “Shoshin”:
Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind”. It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts.

The phrase is also used in the title of the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by the Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki, who says the following about the correct approach to Zen practice:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

Well, this article is an attempt to explore not only what it might mean but why it has value.
My sage spiritual mentor, Rodger, threw out words like:
Be open
Nonjudgmental to new information and experiences
Be Curious
Be “Present” (not distracted or too busy to see the forest from the trees…)

New experiences, information, relationships, thoughts, guidance, epiphanies, insights, revelations, feelings, knowings, “remembering” concepts, etc … all come to people who are open, curious, ready for more input into their lives and their consciousness. But, do you judge and look for flaws or weaknesses, or places for disagreement or are you more curious? Do you have a more rigid view of the world where new thoughts or experiences are NOT trusted and dismissed because these do not fit with what you already know or believe? Are these new experiences contrary to what you think, know or feel? Are you fearful because these are new and different or do you celebrate the exciting fresh possibilities?

Do you look at a new person you meet and ask about them and what they are most passionate about? Or, do you find them to be competitors for attention and you attempt to find ways to disqualify these new characters who are joining your “drama?”

“Beginner’s Mind” is not, just, for beginners. It is for every advanced “consciousness seeker” who has the innocence to experience insights and who can be open for moments of intense spiritual awakening. (Perhaps, we should all strive for this way of gathering our spiritual development.

Tip: Observe a young innocent child of 2 or 3 or perhaps 4 years of age as they react to a new object in their world. (It could be a new skill such as talking or walking or running or using a slide in the park.) Observe their excitement and wonderment as they explore the new point of focus. They may be filled with joy, and showing it. They are definitely “present” and engaged. This is how we can choose to be when we are walking through life. This is the manifestation of the most curious Beginner’s Mind…

Consider the limitations of fear and the “Glass half Empty” approach to life. It is safe. But, YOU have to work your way through the fears and self-imposed barriers to your life’s learnings. Adventures are not for the timid but make a life more exciting, memorable, and worth living! Be “present” as you travel through your new life experiences AND keep your head up with your eyes focused on the horizon. As a young child might celebrate in joy the new challenges which cross your path!

To explore more topics of spiritual development consider participating in our community, Masters of the Journey or visit our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/mastersofthejourney

One thought restated:
Do you remember when you were a young child in this lifetime and you found the joy, the delight, and the wonderment in each new object or skill you discovered? This can be the way you experience each day, each new occurrence, and each new person who falls into your life. The power of the “Beginners Mind” is found in the joy of each new experience, each new learning, each new developing consciousness, or most importantly, each new “Remembering” of your Divine Wisdom that you find within your soul/spirit.

Being Present: Key to Mindfulness

Have you ever suffered from anxiety, fear, or major stress? If so, then the chances are good that the fear or anxiety were born out of an experience from the past, as a learned response, or from fears of some future unknown or uncontrollable event. Throughout our lives we suffer great or small traumas and our body learns to respond to similar scenarios as if we were having PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) reactions. In deed, we may have mini-PTSD responses to fearful or difficult events even if these past events were not life threatening. Most importantly, if we ruminate on past events then we are not totally “present” in our bodies, in present time. Our bodies will then attempt to make us “present” by dragging us back into the present moment with an irritating, if not worse, symptom like an anxiety attack. This symptom is not necessarily the enemy, but it is a warning sign that we are not paying attention to our bodies, in the present moment.

Fear of the unknown or the uncertainty of what can happen in the future will also trigger a symptom of fear or anxiety. Since we can not predict the future with 100% accuracy, our flight-fight response can be triggered and physical or emotional symptoms can be exacerbated. When we lose track of the present moment, our body can force us to consider the present in rude ways.

Conversely, at the heart of every stress or anxiety management technique are simple activities designed to bring us back into our bodies in the present moment and in a “positive way.” One strong example is the request to take a deep slow breath and to feel the cool air as you inhale and the warm breath as you exhale. This simple, but powerful, request asks that you release thoughts regarding the past or expectations of the future and to feel the subtle difference of a slow inhale and exhale. This act of Mindfulness can back you away from your fear or anxiety especially when this has been rehearsed enough to become a habituated pattern.

Being Present or practicing Mindfulness is easier said than done, but the concept is not difficult to understand and with practice not too difficult to learn. Being prepared to “let go” of fear, anxiety, or traumatic thoughts can be very useful and can succeed when the skill of “Being Present” has become a positive habit.

Other techniques for mindfulness would include feeling: muscles relaxing, heart rate slowing, hands and feet warming, stomach tension releasing, and sensations of slowing down of distracting thoughts. Techniques which can lead to this state of mind and body, when practiced, include: Meditations, Autogenic Training, Progressive Relaxations, Visualizations/Imagery, forms of Self-Hypnosis, Breathing techniques, Yoga/Stretching, biofeedback training, and other types of focusing and observations. The secret is to find the one that works best for you, master it, and then use it preventively on a regular basis.

Information at the Stress Education Center’s website wwww.dstress.com may prove helpful to you.