Anyone who has spent time with children can tell you how marvelous it is to witness a child experience things for the first time. The major events are so significant, like taking their first steps, or saying their first words. But for me, witnessing the small, mundane moments carry such magic — like tasting ice cream for the first time, their first sight of a butterfly, or pushing a ball downhill and watching it roll by itself.
There is a type of magic that happens when you observe a child experience these things we take for granted — things that we barely notice anymore. Their excitement and awe is so contagious, it’s as if you’re experiencing them for the first time as well. When I think about the Buddhist concept of “beginner’s mind,” I think of this child-like mind — a mind full of possibilities, without preconceptions.
As seasoned practitioners, we might find ourselves at a point where our practice feels stale. Over the years, we may lose perspective and find that our practice has become a habit — a chore even. With the excitement of discovering something new long faded, practice becomes just another thing we fit into our busy day. We fail to see how our practice is relevant to this very moment, forgetting to look at what’s going on right now. As Shunryu Suzuki Roshi famously said, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”
A beginner’s mind approach can be a practice that allows us to come back to square one. Whether you’re a beginner or seasoned practitioner, coming back to square one can help us keep our practice relevant and fresh.
What would it be like to experience the mundane as new again? How would it feel to sit on the cushion for the first time? I invite you to find out.
— This article is from Mariana Restrepo, Associate Editor, Lion’s Roar.
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