The Practice of Beginner’s Mind.


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I enjoy have beginners in my yoga classes.

It reminds me of the beauty of Beginner’s Mind.

Natalie Goldberg writes in “Writing Down the Bones:”

“When I teach a beginning class, it is good. I have to come back to beginner’s mind, the first way I thought and felt about writing. In a sense, that beginner’s mind is what we must come back to every time we sit down and write. There is no security, no assurance that because we wrote something good two months ago, we will do it again. Actually, every time we begin, we wonder how we ever did it before. Each time is a new journey with no maps.

So when I teach a writing group, I have to tell the story all over again and remember that the students are hearing it for the first time. I must begin at the very beginning.”

I do this for both yoga and writing. It is always helpful to remember what it was like before I knew anything about either practice when I step onto my mat or set my pen to the page. It is so easy to be swept away by all that I think I know. If I think I already know how the pose feels I miss the nuances of how it feels today. If I think I know where my writing is going, I miss on where it wants or needs to go today.

It is also the key to drawing. Forgetting what I think the object in front of me looks like and just looking at it now, noticing the lines, the white space, the angles and drawing exactly what I see in front of me instead of what my mind thinks it sees.

When I have students who have never done yoga before come into my class I get to step back into that space of beginner’s mind. Back into that time before I understood what the practice of yoga offers, what the poses look or feel like in my body. I get to return to the basics: breath, body, presence. Those are the basics of writing as well. And honestly? They are the basics of life.

Getting back to basics allows me to remember that I need to meet myself where I am each day. Like Goldberg says, just because I wrote something good yesterday, doesn’t mean I will write something good today. And just because my body got into a pose today, doesn’t mean it will get there tomorrow.

I attended a workshop today on understanding Ayurveda and yoga. She asked those of us who already had some knowledge on the subject to set it aside. To be there as blank slates. It would have been so easy to sit there, ignoring what I thought I already knew. But by sitting there with my beginner’s mind I learned so many things in a different way. My mind was open. I was open.

Each day is a blank slate. Each day is a journey without a map. Embracing it with a beginner’s mind turns each day into an adventure. Embracing it allows me to be open to the wonder that surrounds me