The Importance of Approaching Things with Beginner’s Mind

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
Shunryu Suzuki (1905-1971)

Shoshin is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind.” It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would. (from Wikipedia)

I find, when I am taking a class from another teacher, I learn so much more when I can put aside everything I think I know about that subject and anything remotely related to that subject. It’s a form of getting out of my own way. My ego is so invested in me being right, in me having all the information already, because that feels safe, that my head will frequently say “oh, yes, I know” and I stop listening. I will always miss something when I do this.

I have a practice I have adapted from Theresa Bullard, one of my first Kabbalah teachers, that I use when approaching material I want to get more out of, especially when I already know something about the subject. I take a cup of water, and I pour everything I think I know about the broadest umbrella of the topic I can think of (say, healing) into that cup. I then pour that water into something where Mother Nature can recycle it into something more useful.

I am, of course, not actually getting rid of my pre-existing knowledge. I am setting the intention of approaching the information as if I did not have pre-existing knowledge, so that I can absorb as much as possible. When I have beginner’s mind, I no longer need the instructor and the rest of the class to know all of what I know. I no longer need to feel that I know more about the instructor on a section of their material. I no longer have to worry that I am getting enough out of the class.
I get to be present, and simply absorb what is offered, so that I can assimilate it into my greater body of knowledge later.

This is not conjecture. Not only has it been a part of Zen Buddhist practice for years, as a way to be truly present, science is now corroborating that people will learn more if they can take on the beginner’s mind. Steve Jobs practiced it. Dr. Kevin Tidgewell of Duquesne University practices it. Jackie Barretta tells us that experts are the last people to include in creative brainstorming sessions.

When I am teaching, especially a large body of work, I will do one of two things to help my students get into the beginner’s mind. I will have them do an in-depth (no pun intended) grounding exercise, or I will have them do a water exercise. Sometimes, when it’s going to be a class in which we go over even more information that I usually offer in a short amount of time, I may have them do both. I don’t like to waste my students’ time and money, and I don’t like to waste my energy. It is important to me that people who come to me for learning get the most out of it they can (otherwise, what are we doing?), and I can tell when they are not present to the information. Don’t get me wrong, I love having people in my classes who have some background knowledge, because I know they are serious about their studies. Which is honestly why I do my utmost to help them find their beginner’s mind.

Resources on Beginner’s Mind:
Zen Habits: Approaching Life With Beginner’s Mind
Jack Kornfield: The Beauty of Beginner’s Mind
Inc: 11 Ways to Develop Beginner’s Mind
Daily Zen: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
A Lecture on Beginner’s Mind by Abbess Zenkei Blanche Hartman
Experience Life: Beginner’s Mind
Unstuck Advice: 6 tips to cultivate a beginner’s mind

Posted in Classes, Practice, Ritual, Tools

A Healing Meditation from Miriam of Magdala

recorded 7/22/18

If you enjoyed this…

Beginning in September, I will be offering a monthly event that will be part meditation, part channeling, and part discussion. Miriam of Magdala, the Magdalene, Watchtower of the Teachings, Ethiopian Queen, she who anointed Jeshua Messiah, She who heard teachings no one else did, the Goddess of the Gospels. Whatever you call her, her energies tie together cultures and beliefs like no other.

Posted in Classes, Goddess, Healing, Kabbalah, magic, Meditation, Mysticism, Practice, Shamanism, Tools, Video

Solar Eclipse in Leo. Oh yeah, it’s also a New Moon.

LEO SOLAR ECLIPSE: Saturday, August 11, 2018, 5:58 am EDT/2:58 am PDT; Sun and Moon at 18.42 Leo

Solar eclipse are buzzy. Have you felt it building? Although it’s a New Moon, which is usually introspective, the Sun is the main feature, which flips the energy, and we get shaken up enough that the Shadow Self can sometimes take over. This post is a perfect example of the topsy-turvy-ness of the energy – it was supposed to be a New Moon post, and here I am talking about the Sun!

But let’s have a look at what is going on with the Shadow Self, since we’re shining lights in dark corners… Our Shadow is nothing more than the part of ourselves we haven’t made friends with yet. We’re more than a little uncomfortable with it, and we try to shove it back into hiding whenever it pops up, instead of looking for its strength, the gift that it brings. We may even be ashamed of it.

The biggest challenge most of us have with our Shadow is that, until be accept that it is, we can’t do anything about it. Accepting that something is simply means letting go of judgment and allowing it to be neutral. If I try to change something, or learn from it, while I’m in judgment, I’m not present, which means I’m stuck in illusion. So all my efforts are going to be wasted.

For example, I can be very impatient. Impatience isn’t the problem, though. Impatience is a lack of acceptance, pure and simple. Its opposite is not patience, because patience can only be brought to blossom where impatience already exists. The opposite of of impatience is acceptance. Rather than getting stuck in what I think should be, allowing what actually is gives me the opportunity to change things, if change is indicated.

The easiest way for me to get out of judgment and into acceptance is to shift my conscious operating system to my heart center. If I take a moment and gather all of my focus into my heart center, and relate to the world from that space, I am going to be present, I won’t feel the need to judge, and I will be in acceptance. The heart center, and the Now, are where the Divine is. Honestly, Now is the only moment that exists – the past is in your memory and the future is conjecture. When I stand in Divine energy, I am whole, and I’m not fighting myself.

The gift of my impatience is that it lets me know when I’m operating from a place of separation (illusion) rather than a place of connection (being here Now).

It is common, around the time of a Solar Eclipse, for the Shadow to try to take over. If you want to be proactive, you can work on being present. Grounding meditations help, as does a basic Mindfulness practice. Move deliberately, slowly. Practice operating from your heart center.

Or you go ahead and act out and make a mess. As always, it’s your choice. Free Will Universe and all…

Posted in Astrology, Healing, Meditation, Moon, Mysticism, Personal growth, Practice, Shamanism, Shift, Summer, Tools

Ayamanatara’s Latest Book

Faery Spiral
Faery Spiral:
Library of Arcadia
Volume 1: Coming Home

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The digital edition of The Shift
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