We all have stresses and anxieties in life. But a lot of these troubles could be solved by one simple practice. A lot of joy can also be found from the same practice.
It’s a practice called the ‘beginner’s mind’.
Seeing life as a beginner, or coming to life with a “beginner’s mind” is a Zen Buddhist practice. It is a way to learn, or see every situation as a learning opportunity.
Looking at things through a beginner’s perspective, or with a beginner’s mind, you can see things through a new, fresh, and open perspective. You often lose this perspective when you become good at something. Along with the loss of the perspective, you often lose the curiosity you initially had, and the excitement and wonder.
You can do any, and every, daily activity using the beginner’s mind perspective.
Think about driving to work. Remember when you began driving? You were so excited, you could control a car, listen to the radio, be independent. Now driving has become boring and annoying. The view from your car has probably also changed from infinite possibility and beauty to daily monotony that you don’t really even see.
When you see things with a beginner’s mind you see all the details that you usually miss, you smell all the smells, you notice things using all the senses, and you appreciate everything as it is: a temporary gift.
Mindfulness expert Leo Babauta has explained in this article how to practice the beginner’s mind. We’ve summarized the most important points below.
How Beginner’s Mind Can Help You
When you start to incorporate the perspective of a beginner’s mind, you will notice changes throughout your life like:
1) Richer experiences.
You engage with things instead of letting misconceptions and assumptions get in the way, you can really enjoy them as they are.
2) Enhanced relationships.
Seeing people as they really are, being present with them, and accepting them without comparing them to an ideal is something that using the beginner’s mind can help with.
3) Less procrastination and worry.
Instead of putting things off for later because of ideas or fantasies about how they might be, by erasing all those preconceived notions you can start fresh and be excited and curious about new projects and tasks.
4) Less anxiety.
By letting go of what you fear the outcome will be in things that cause you anxiety, you can maintain a sense of opportunity and wonder.
How to Start Practicing The Beginner’s Mind
You will start practicing beginner’s mind in meditation.
First, find a quiet place to sit. Then pay attention to your body and breath, your inhales and exhales.
Next, notice the thoughts that are coming into your head. These are the enemies of the beginner’s mind because often they are preconceived notions about how things should be and stories about what could be. Let them pass.
Finally, empty yourself so you can see things as they really are in this moment. Notice the things that are real, like your breath and your body.
Practice these steps over and over again, noting the changes you feel.
Outside of meditation, you can practice beginner’s mind in every situation and every activity that you do. Just be open to what happens, accept reality, and engage with all your senses and a sense of wonder and curiosity.