Beginner’s Mind

It’s called Shoshin. Used often in the study of Zen Buddhism, the term means being open, eager and receptive to new ideas, events, people…to life. Put aside preconceptions. Approach your study or interaction as a beginner would. Or as a child. Jesus told us to become like little children in our hearts and in our minds.

What does that mean to you? To me it means…lead with a loving heart. Rejoice in simple pleasures. Celebrate. Gasp with wonder at the world’s beauty. Cry without shame. Feel…accept…embrace…love. And most of all, be curious and interested and set aside judgments.

Rediscover your awe, that sense of wonder we all have when we’re little people and oh-so-few of us nurture now that we’re all grown up. Is it because we are too busy? Is it because we already have been there, done that and tossed the t-shirt aside? Is it because we know at some level that this is Good Stuff, but…really? What will people say if we start acting thrilled and wonder-filled about…um…life?

You know what they’ll say? They’ll say “I want to get me some of that!”

And how will they know? Because awe and wonder do just as much for your outlook and your appearance as fancy face creams and five servings of veggies a day. I’m a veggie lover. Mmm, broccoli, asparagus, green beans! Yes, they are essential to my well-being. And so is having a beginner’s mind.

A beginner’s mind starts with the concept that you don’t know everything and you are okay with that. More than okay with it. You say it without shame. It’s when we DO know everything that cynicism sneaks in and the ho-hums follow. Why is it that today’s world is so insistent on everybody knowing every little thing immediately and all the time?

We read or watch the weather forecast. Great, great. But what about stepping outside and feeling it? Inhaling it? Learning it from the evidence all around? What about smelling the air for rain? Lifting our faces to the wind?

We meet a friend for lunch and talk about the same things in the same way because we know each other’s stories. We’ve heard them, many times. But what if we looked across the table at our friend and said…tell me something that I don’t know about you. Anything. Anything. And we listened to the answer because we wanted to know?

What if we exhaled our preconceived notions about a relationship or a work environment or a situation and we inhaled a willingness to learn what we might learn. Whatever that might be. Ohhh, the possibilities.

The possibilities? What possibilities?

The chance to learn something new when we thought we knew it all…or enough of it to figure everything out and tidy up our judgments and move on to the next whatever. With a beginner’s mind we open to everything we DON’T know. And we aren’t afraid of it. And we make time for it. And we relish the experience.

Become like a little child in your heart and mind and eagerly open to the wonders life has to offer.

Shoshin.

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