Begin With A Beginner’s Mind

33 comments

There are three ways to start the day:

“This day is going to be awful.”

“This day is going to be great.”

and 

“I don’t know what today’s going to be like and what it may mean.”

Beginning with a beginner’s mind is a method taught in Zen Buddhism. It is meant to strip the meanings our monkey minds put on everything that happens to us. Did you ever notice that we tend to jump to conclusions? And these conclusions make a huge difference in how we feel and how we act.

Begin with a beginner's mind

Life is all about perspective. More honestly, your life is your perspective. It becomes whatever you think it is. The meaning we put on events in our life come from how we’ve understood our past experiences. But what if we looked at something without all of that baggage from our past tainting it. What if we looked at something like we were looking at it for the first time?

Begin with a beginner’s mind

This is a practice that can help anyone see and create a new world. When something happens, say “I don’t know what this means.” This allows the spiritual journey meaning to come through, and the understanding-the-situation-from-other’s-perspective to shine. It takes us out of the ego self. (A self-centered self.) And helps us see from the big picture view.

The reason I am writing about it today is that two people this week rattled it back to me as something I told them that has stuck with them.

One women told me, this week, “I am glad you are on Facebook” (I hadn’t seen her in six months) “Because every time I see you on there I remember to begin with a beginner’s mind. And that helps me.” It helped her come out of her insecurities and low self worth which tells her every problem is her fault. Some things are teeny tiny and don’t matter and other things have nothing to do with her. (And definitely don’t mean what she previously thought.)

The second person is a teen who has been suicidal this past month. (Not the one in my Life is Precious post. She could still use some prayers). Another one. (I don’t know if it is in the water… or just that in Rochester we are a community that has been hit hard by tragedy and it is effected everyone consciously or unconsciously.)

Anyway, I am happy to report that he is out of the woods. It is so nice! I never quite know what words might make someone chose to rejoin life again instead of wishing to end it. So this past month, I have said a whole big bunch of things. Hoping beyond hope that something will penetrate.

Of course, when things are OK, I always ask what and why things have shifted. Last night, he said, “In the morning instead of thinking: This day is going to be horrible. Like you told me to, I say, ‘I don’t know what this day will be like.’ And actually school has been fun.”

Who knew?

I am going to take one thing today and  see if I can look at it with a beginner’s mind. Who knows what treasure I might uncover!

Over to you. Have you ever looked at something with a beginner’s mind? How did it change you or the way you responded to the situation?  


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33 Comments

Hiten

Hi Jodi,

This was a great post on the power of the beginner’s mind. From my own experience, when I’ve adopted the beginner’s mind and an attitude of I don’t know and I don’t understand yet, it makes whatever I’m doing so much more enjoyable and stress free. There really is freedom in not knowing.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Hiten, Thank you! It is powerfully freeing not to make a decision that concludes someone is to blame (usually us).
xoJ

Robert

I always start the day thinking “Today I am going to learn something new”.

No point in thinking the day will be bad because if you do then it will be.

I sacked a client the other day, I had quoted for a web site and done basic layout, he said “No doubt I will complain at every stage but I will be honest I am not expecting much”. As I did not want to disappoint him I sacked him as a client. It had hassle written all over it in capital letters with bold type!!!
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Robert,
What a wonderful way to start the day. It is great you’ve given yourself the luxury of passing on them. So many of us keep the hassle going to our own detriment.
Good on you!
xoJ

Louise Gallagher

I have written often of my need to enter each day, situation, idea with a beginner’s mind — it keeps me from that place Shunyru Suzuki speaks of where — I am the expert and insist I know way

I love that people tell you how your words have moved and affected them — that is so beautiful.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Louise,
It fills me up when they tell me. Some times it is hard to figure out where a new idea comes from and they don’t know. But I know it was my intention to plant it, and the rest doesn’t matter.
xoJ

Tina Barbour

Jodi, I was not familiar with what “beginner’s mind” really means, so I appreciated this wonderful explanation and encouragement. I realize that I jump to conclusions very often and stamp my meaning all over things like I’m the expert. It doesn’t help! I am going to try looking at something with beginner’s mind today, also. Thank you!
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

I hope you have great experience. This would be interesting with regard to OCD. The anxiety tells you one thing and if you stepped back, thing might look ridiculous enough to break the pattern! <3 Hope so!
xoJ

Kelly Hashway

This is great advice! You’re so right about how jumping to conclusions shapes what really happens. Being open to possibilities sounds so much more promising.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

You my dear are open to the many possibilities that are coming your way. Just bought Love All this am and will post a photo soon!
xoJ

Nancy

Thank you for such an insightful post and the great reminder. My mind is often a mile ahead of me! I am taking your suggestion to heart and will bring myself back to beginner’s mind and let the day unfold as it is intended.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Nancy,
What did you notice while doing it? I cannot wait to hear.
xoJ

Harleena Singh

Hi Jodi,

I totally agree you. Our life depends on our perspective – a change in our perspective changes our life. Our understanding of the events in our life is based on our learning.

Starting with a beginner’s mind is like clearing the browser cache. When you erase what’s written on the board of your mind, you can think afresh. It helps us to think ‘out of the box,’ and not make instant reactions prompted by our ego.

Thanks for sharing these wonderful thoughts. 🙂

Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Harleena,
Great metaphor! Clearing the browser cache! I love it. Thank you!
xoJ

solidgoldcreativity

Hi Jodi. I regularly (in my words) create “the possibility I don’t know anything”. Most often I do it just before I’m about to make a phone call to someone that I fear making. When I create the possibility and then ring the person, the conversation that follows is consistently surprising. Plus, I actually hear what they are saying.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Fantastic example!

solidgoldcreativity

Me again. I remembered a specific incident. One day, a few years ago, I created “the possibility I don’t know anything” and the next day a family member who goes out of communication for months at a time called me. We had an amazing conversation and I heard her newly.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Narelle,
I love when these things happen that are obvious validations to a new (or old) practice! It reminded me to write a post about having no preferences, which is an amazing way to go through life. See? You’d never be upset!
xoJ

Monica

How inspiring as always, Jodi. I’m going to try this outlook next time I have a conundrum. Thanks for sharing!
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Let me know how it works, Monica!
xoJ

Sapna

HI Jodi

Great post!

This is something I could relate myself with, I try to remain a newbie, and that really helps me a lot. It makes me learn from everyone and also at times everyone is around to help me as a newbie.
That keeps me stress free most of the times and keep the monkey off my back.

Thanks for sharing this.

Sapna

Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Sapna,
Also you get to have child-like wonder, which makes everything better!
xoJ

Laura Zera

I love these kinds of tools because they are very doable and yet have a giant impact. Thanks, Jodi!
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

You are very welcome, Laura!
xoJ

kirri white

Such truth in your words. I like the term ‘beginners mind’ – very empowering.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Thank you Kirri! It does give you the power. All the power in the world, not to let things bother you!
xoJ

Margaret Duarte

Hi Jodi. I’m not going to tell you again how synchronicity seems to play out each time I read your blog. Hint, I wrote my post “Human Doing or Human Being,” before I read yours, “Begin with a Beginners Mind,” especially the statments: “But what if we looked at something without all of that baggage from our past tainting it. What if we looked at something like we were looking at it for the first time?” This is fun!
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

Margaret,
That is beyond awesome, I am headed over there right now.
xoJ

Nikky44

I know that I’m not there yet, but I realize how much progress I have made in the last 2 years, but mainly compared to the first 20 years of my life. I could easily be a fiction writer as my mind was SO fast in creating a full story (always drama) out of a small event or thought or just an image. That was a source of huge anxiety.
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Jodi Lobozzo Aman

I think maybe if you channeled it into the stories, then your anxiety would go down by this action.
XoJ

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Maya

No matter how many times I’ve heard it, the reminder to begin with a beginner’s mind is always so valuable. I truly never know what the day will bring, and if I go into it thinking one way or the other (it’s going to be awful, it’s going to be great), I’ve my mind less open to what the day brings. And often, it’s the least expected that creates the biggest impact. Thanks for the reminder – wonderful, as always!


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