Beginner’s Mind


The beginner’s mind has been at the forefront of my recent thoughts. With the year having just begun, it seems appropriate. While logically, moving from December into January is another night’s rest, energetically it can feel like the opportunity for a fresh start. Mentally it’s a chance to let go of whatever has been weighing you down.

A few years ago, with a small group of people, I hiked to Mount Everest Base Camp. This was unlike any other trip I had ever taken. I felt fully present with the entire experience. My awareness was heightened with doing something so new and challenging. The morning after arriving at our final camp, the sunrise greeted the snowy peaks in spectacular rays of light. It was in that moment that I first felt like I understood what I had heard and read for so long… each experience is actually unique but we don’t always treat it that way.

Try to remember the last time you tried something new. Generally, feelings of uncertainty rush through the body, thoughts and breath race, and the fear of making a mistake tries to take over your entire being. See if you can recall your level of attention during that moment. How present were you? We tend to work harder, and be more aware in those types of situations. The experience of doing something for the first time helps us to be in the state of learning and growth.

What happens if you adapt that level of attention to your ordinary actions, situations, and interactions? Take for example rereading a book you’ve read before, driving down your same old street, or greeting your neighbor as if they’ve just moved in? The practice of consciously choosing to do things from the perspective of beginner’s mind gives you the opportunity to see things in a way you might not have otherwise.

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