Beginner’s Mind, Part II

As we move into and through adulthood we get really good at being experts, or at least declaring ourselves as such. In a practical sense, maybe we go through some education, find a thing that we’re good at or inspired by (or the thing we think we can make a bunch of money doing), and dive in deep to master the subject, the layers of information contained within, and the skills needed to demonstrate proficiency. This is all well and good. No problem. The world needs passionate people who want to learn, transmit, create, and contribute. The thing is that sometimes along with our expertise arrives a few other characters.

There is the potential for efficiency to turn into utility. The question becomes, “What can I use this for? What is he/she/it good for?” rather than “What could I learn from this moment? What contribution is this person sharing with me?”

Our pile of knowledge can begin to weigh heavily on others. Can we set aside our point of view to hear another, or do we dump our “rightness” on the person across from us or the situation at hand?

Someone’s attempt to share with us, engage us in conversation, or shine the light on another way becomes an affront to our established expertise and we grip hard to protect it.

With our many years of experience, data, proof, outcomes, and reasoning, we may become resigned to “the way things are” according to what we know and see so seemingly well. Soon, our universe that was once so fresh, untouched, and bursting with newness morphs into a world of no possibility. An atmosphere of assessments with a climate of closure.

And housed in that place are some of our favorite internal tunes: worry, doubt, fear, and judgment.

The good news? We can choose to change our mind. Have you noticed? There are some things (many things) that we cannot alter, undo, shift or control. However, our mind is shockingly malleable, flexible, and adaptable. We might notice this in how others show up in our gaze. One day our sweet companion who we declare as generous and thoughtful when they bring us flowers or make a pot of hot coffee becomes the world’s most frustrating human, certainly put on this earth to irritate and derail us. We’re so quick with our labels and heavy with the wag of our finger, that if we only took a moment to pause, breathe, and notice… we might see how much our mind shapes our view and how we (our selves) can shape our mind.

So, then. Let’s practice. Let’s create this action of embracing our role as the novice, hungry to appreciate each new morsel of life as it comes and as it is. Let’s awaken to each day, each moment, with the promise of constant uncertainty, with the willingness to truly hear, see, smell, touch, and taste our existence as it is: groundless and impermanent. When we can let go of our preconceived notions, our hardened opinions, and all our right answers — even for a moment — we may find that the people around us, the ground we walk on, and even the reflection we see in the mirror can be full of possibility.

Let’s begin.

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