The classic Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, begins with shedding light on the concept of this childlike attitude:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the experts mind there are few”.
According to this Zen Buddhist principal, anything can be possible when you look at a project or a problem with a beginner’s mind. Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Michael Jackson, to name a few, all could occupy the part of their minds that contained possibilities greater than anyone had imagined. They saw the world with a beginner’s mind and had the insight and courage to put their ideas into form.
So what are some ways we might cultivate this attitude that can help to make our days more enjoyable, create a life’s work, make art that moves the spirit, or witness a healing that seems like a miracle?
1. Ask questions and stay open to different points of view.
2. Do not dwell on the past. This frees up an enormous amount of creative energy.
3. Do not follow the crowd.
4. Listen to your gut instincts. Make time for quiet so you can become familiar with your inner voice and practice listening to it. If you do not have time for quiet, see #5.
5. Learn how to be quiet in the noise. Mother Teresa, a saint who encountered everyone with a beginner’s mind, said, “Do small things with great love.” Moving through a busy day without a minute to spare can be a meditation if you work in this unique and focused manner.
6. Take care of yourself: Eat a diet that nourishes, do exercise that brightens your mind, and surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.
7. Move out of your comfort zone and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As Samuel Beckett said, “Ever tried, Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again, Fail better”.
Having a beginner’s mind helps the day begin with an excitement rather than an expectation of the same old thing. The cusp of summer is a perfect time to cultivate the ability to see things with a fresh perspective. Try it!