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.
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.”
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?