Cultivating a Beginner's Mind

Uncategorized Jan 01, 2020

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." 

-Shunryu Suzuki 

 

If there is something I have learned in the 10+ years I have been in private practice and running my own business, is that there is always something new to learn... And every day is a school day! 

I think when we get to a place when we think we "know it all", as an entrepreneur or business owner we are in trouble! Thinking we know everything there is to know about a topic or about running a certain part of my business, keeps me closed off to new possibilities... Having a "beginner's mindset" we stay open to learning and to possibility :) The beginner’s mindset also refers to maintaining the open attitude of a beginner, no matter how advanced your knowledge becomes on a topic. A wise place to start would be to embrace more openness with regard to your judgments. And really, everything is a judgment—from your opinion about someone else’s beliefs, to the self-care practice you follow, to the “facts” that you consider absolutely unwavering. After all, at a certain time in history, it was a fact that the world was flat!

So how do we cultivate a beginner's mindset? I would like to share 3 things that I have found helpful, in keeping a fresh perspective on things and growing my beginner's mind. ;) 

1. Yes, No, Maybe

When considering anything, try taking on the viewpoint of “Yes, No, Maybe,” rather than choosing just one perspective.

  • Should a person eat meat? Yes, no, maybe.
  • Is your method of disciplining your children the best choice? Yes, no, maybe.
  • Should you really wait 30 minutes after a meal before swimming? Yes, no, maybe.

The qualification here is to not be wishy-washy, but instead to consider that few things in life are black and white. The universe is basically comprised of all shades of gray.

2. Emulate the Wonder of Children

The great naturalist, Rachel Carson, said in her book, The Sense of Wonder, “A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.”

What will the problem you are trying to solve look like through the eyes of a child? Would it bring a different perspective?

3. Practice the Don’t Know Mind

Author Jack Kornfield shares a powerful meditation to embrace what he calls “the Don’t Know Mind.” It’s a simple contemplation that asks you to consider all the things within and around you that you don’t fully understand—like how the earth spins through space or how people are born and are dying every day.

Rather than trying to figure these things out, you practice being at peace with the state of not knowing. In this way, you learn to relax into the moments when faced with a challenge or a conundrum and have no idea what will happen. In this meditation, faith in the unknown brings about inner peace.

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