Although you’re reading this on a screen, I first wrote it on paper with a pen while sitting in warm sunshine and catching the scent of late spring roses. May these words bring you ease, warmth, and joy.
This evening, I begin a new, drop-in meditation group. Our topic tonight is beginner’s mind. I’ve been reflecting on how it feels to begin. To begin something new, or to approach a familiar task, person, landscape, and inner experience as if new. When do we allow ourselves to try it on, do it awkwardly, make mistakes, or not have all the details?
Meditation practice offers a playground for beginning anew and starting over. Check out what’s happening right now. Each breath a new breath; each breath a new beginning. Each moment we’re attentive invites possibility. If possibility blurs into expectation, no problem. Begin again. Anything is happening. Everything is happening. Nothing is happening.
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities… (Shunry Suzuki)
Just as I wrote that, I heard a thwack, glanced to my right, and saw a small orange roll to a stop in the neighbor’s yard. Seeing with fresh eyes, we touch on freedom from expectations based on past experiences or habits of mind. An orange!
As a beginner, we don’t know. We set aside cynicism and control, and call forth curiosity.
This may also have a childlike quality, probably because kids are expected to be beginners and adults are expected to know it all (or act like we do). The idiomatic expression “from the mouths of babes” refers to the wisdom, truth, and often humor of kids’ observations and questions that may surprise, delight, and astound us. It reminds me of my niece, who loves to ask Why? and What does it mean?
Possibility. Opening. Freshness. Beginner’s mind opens portals of mystery and presence, surprise, uncertainty, and exploration. Receptivity in the wonder of the present moment.
‘Getting it’ … is over-rated. (Will Kabat-Zinn)