By definition, having a beginner’s mind means having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and freedom from preconceptions when approaching anything. Beginner’s mind is actually the space where the mind does not know what to do. It is that delicious state when you are sure of nothing, yet completely fearless, totally available to the moment.
We all start off with a beginner’s mind! Every time you learn something new, you are in ‘beginner mode’. Then what happens to that wonderful attitude down the line? The moment something becomes familiar to us, the mind tries to take over, calling up memories, and creating expectations and fears which stop us from connecting directly to the reality of the present moment.
Our mind is constantly chattering! If you take just ten minutes to write down all the random thoughts and emotions coming up in you, you’ll discover what a madhouse your mind is! All these thoughts and emotions that comes up are either from the past or the future, totally unrelated to each other and to the present moment in time. These past perceptions and emotions actually determine how we perceive and respond to the outside world. They close us to new experiences.
A psychiatrist received a strange complaint from a man who kept going into a blind rage whenever he saw a woman wearing a particular shade of yellow! Therapy later revealed that when the man’s fiancé had broke up with him, she was wearing a yellow dress of that particular shade. And the unfortunate thing is, we don’t even know where these impressions are hiding inside us, influencing us without our awareness!
To have a beginner’s mind is to have a clean slate - a pure innocence where everything is fresh and new. This innocence opens many doors in life. Look at the innocence of a child; see how intense he is about anything he does. As adults, we have lost that power - but it can be regained through meditation.
You can start by being aware of distracting thoughts and feelings throughout the day, whether you are eating, working or taking a bath. Set a strong intention to cultivate this awareness. Again and again, bring your mind back to the awareness of the task at hand. Quit worrying about the journey ahead or the results. Be spontaneous and disregard the thought of failure or looking silly.
When you live in a space like this, you will that endless opportunities suddenly open to you, your creativity increases, you feel joyful and your energy level stays high. Life looks radiant and fresh. Approaching life with a beginner's mind is Living Enlightenment!