Bringing 'Beginner's Mind' to your everyday life
I had three beginners in my yoga class last week and I was reminded how incredible it is to be "new" at something. In Zen Buddhism, this is called Shoshin or 'Beginners Mind'.
Shoshin is an approach to take to situations in life, even if you are no longer a beginner. For instance, for people who have been meditating or doing yoga for a long time, what would it feel like to show up on the mat as if it were your first time? There is a freedom in that and an opportunity to see and feel things that you haven't before.
There are a few elements to Shoshin, but essentially it is letting go of preconceptions of how things will work, eliminating expectations of yourself, and being curious about your practice or journey.
We see beginners mind in children every day. The wonder and magic of trying new things, like tasting a new food, experiencing a swing for the first time, or going on an airplane. Sadly, our natural beginners mind dims before we reach adulthood.
In my 40’s now, and there are so many things that I do out of habit. If we don’t live in our present moment, or use mindful awareness to feel each moment, we can lose the joy in life. But if we bring Beginners Mind to more of our daily life, that feeling of wonder, joy and excitement can be brought back.
So how do we do this in a meaningful way?
The first and most important thing is to be present. Take a mundane task - maybe it is doing the dishes. I use this example because my daughter LOVES to do the dishes. She loves to feel the water on her hands, the bubbles in the soap and to feel accomplished after finishing a task. I, on the other hand, just see the dishes as a chore that must get done. I don’t particularly like it.
What if, the next time you did the dishes, you only did the dishes. You aren’t thinking of the next thing, you just feel what it is like to do the dishes. Release preconceived judgement. “I hate doing the dishes”, doesn’t belong in the Beginner’s Mind practice. What if it was the first time you did the dishes? How would that feel?
You can try this with ANYTHING, especially those things in your life that you do as a matter of unconscious habit.
To have beginners mind is such a gift in so many situations. It can also help bring joy to tasks that may seem mundane. Try it! And comment below on how it felt for you.