Do you remember what it was like being a child? How wonderful and exciting it could be to learn about new things through play and curiosity?
That’s the general idea behind the beginner’s mind, a concept famously discussed in the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, by Shunryu Suzuki. One of the most well-known quotes from this book describes the beginner’s mind beautifully:
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few”.
By looking at the world with a beginner’s mind, you can open yourself up to all sorts of opportunities and experiences that you may not have otherwise thought possible. You can recapture that sense of curiosity and excitement that you once felt when you were learning new things, and allow it to help you in your adult life. It may be more useful than you think.
Let’s learn more about the beginner’s mind, and the continuing importance of play and curiosity.
What is the Beginner’s Mind?
The term “beginner’s mind” is actually translated from the Japanese shoshin, which is derived from Zen Buddhism. When you approach something with a beginner’s mind, you’re basically looking at it with a clean slate. There are no preconceived notions, judgments, or expectations behind your approach, just fresh eyes and an open mind.
This is why there are so many possibilities in a beginner’s mind. There is nothing to limit or narrow their mindset, not even previous experiences. This means you can be an expert in something and still have a beginner’s mind. You just need to welcome back that sense of curiosity and playfulness that you once had as a child.
What Are the Benefits of a Beginner’s Mind?
While examining things with a child’s eyes may not sound particularly helpful to an adult, there are many potential benefits to having a beginner’s mindset.
A beginner’s mind can give you a fresh perspective on any problems or challenges in your life. It allows you to tap into your creativity and consider options and opportunities that may not have otherwise crossed your mind.
More Curiosity and Wonder
Remember how you used to just marvel at certain things when you were a kid? Like how cool it was to see the reaction between vinegar and baking soda or something? Perhaps it got you thinking about science or baking in a different way, and inspired you to conduct similar experiments. If you apply this same curious mindset to your everyday activities, who knows what you can come up with?
More Playfulness and Fun
You don’t have to take everything in life so seriously. Looking at the world with a beginner’s mind can put you back in touch with the playful, curious kid you were in the past. This may help you reacquaint yourself with the more interesting aspects of your daily routine, and inject some much-needed fun into your life along the way.
When you let go of your prejudgments and expectations about something, you open yourself up to fully living in the moment. You’re not distracted by your previous knowledge about or experience with something, so you can really focus on what’s going on in the present.
Are you having trouble letting go and living in the moment? Learn more about our meditation and mindfulness practice at Edie Gudaitis Wellness here.