Begin With A Beginner’s Mind

There are three ways to start the day:

“This day is going to be awful.”

“This day is going to be great.”


“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.) Out of the anxiety. 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.

I don’t know

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?  

31 thoughts on “Begin With A Beginner’s Mind”

  1. 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.
    Hiten recently posted..NLP Presuppositions Part 3My Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

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

  2. 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!!!

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      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!

  3. 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.
    Louise Gallagher recently posted..Has anyone ever had this happen?My Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      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.

    1. 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!

    1. 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!

  4. 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. 🙂

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

      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!

  5. 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.


  6. 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!
    Margaret Duarte recently posted..Human Doing or Human Being?My Profile

  7. 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.
    Nikky44 recently posted..Guest post: An open blessingMy Profile

    1. Jodi Lobozzo Aman

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

  8. 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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