Beginner’s Mind

Beginner’s Mind

I trained in the martial arts for years. Starting at 15, I joined the school Livermore Kenpo Karate. It was challenging and exhilarating all at the same time. It’s so frustrating sometimes to have to deal with new things. Lately, I have taken up the martial art of Aikido, at Tacoma Aikikai. It’s a different form, and a different philosophy of martial arts than what I am used to.

This is not the first time I have tried to learn Aikido. The first time I got injured and frustrated with the teachings and I quit about 3 months in. The second time I ran out of ti me because my son, Ari, had been born, and my priorities shifted.

In this most recent attempt to learn, I am becoming most cognizant of what it takes to achieve a “beginner’s mind”. Simply put, the beginner’s mind, or the zen mind, is where you approach a concept or situation, even one you may have seen countless times before, with the mind of a beginner. You consider things you may not have considered. New insight can leap to mind. It really is a great opportunity. More often, what we do is look at what we already know in order to apply it to a new situation, and that can limit our available options.

What about experience?

Mastery is important, and when you have become very comfortable in an arena, that mastery is evident. This comes up in Chiropractic all the time. When I see a subluxation show up in a particular way, my automatic response is to adjust it in a certain way. Most of the time that works. But not every time. There is an advantage to looking at the subluxation with a beginner’s mind, to see what I might be missing, and how I might apply something new to the situation. Even if what I do works very well, how might I change what I do so that it works even better?

The attitude of beginner’s mind can allay frustration, and keep us in a continually learning mindset.

It can also help when we’re in pain. A regular or recurring symptom that isn’t responding to any kind of treatment or approach is a great opportunity to practice beginner’s mind. If you had this for the first time, what might you do? What have you learned that could be different now?

How do I get there?

Meditation can help with this process. Get comfortable and practice whatever form of meditation works for you. I practice zazen meditation, the art of sitting. What I do is sit and ponder. Just allowing the mind to wander, without attachment, can be a very valuable exercise in this arena. See what pops up. It might be nonsense. It might be everything you’ve already thought or felt before. And it could be a new insight that just shows up all of a sudden, giving you a new avenue to explore. Some of the best ideas I’ve ever had have come to me this way.

The beginner’s mind is one that is not overcrowded with past experience. Using the beginner’s mind coupled with past experience can radically alter your life.

How could you apply it today?

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