Monday, January 11, 2016

Beginner's mind

Educator and writer Parker Palmer encourages us when we're stuck to be a beginner—to "begin again with beginner's mind and with hope." Ah, yes, with hope.

As Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki said, "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few." That is also good to remember. Perhaps we shouldn't aspire to be experts then, should we?

Or as poet Wendell Berry once wrote to a friend, "I greet you at at the beginning, for we are either beginning or we are dead."

My takeaway from these quotes is that it's important to remain open. A beginner is open, open to possibilities, open to learning, open to making mistakes and failing—just open. Experts can be closed off, thinking they've reached the peak.

If you're in a stagnant place right now, in a rut or just feeling unfocused, try beginner's mind. Simply try to be open, let go of all the knowledge you may have accumulated and approach life with curiosity. See what unfolds. You might be surprised. Oh, and don't forget the hope!

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