Beginner’s Mind

“Get rid of the thoughts that strangle your mind. Eliminate the negative things you say to yourself based on past experience, or someone else’s opinion.”

Since I also apply Mindfulness in my work with children, I can easily see how we have lost the ability to nurture the curiosity of our minds in our daily lives. There is one exercise in Mindfulness practice called “Raisin Exercise” in this exercise we need to connect with all 5 senses and with our eyes closed “explore” the smell, sound, texture and taste of raisins and later analyze the difference between two raisins with our sense of sight.

Often for adults, this exercise is the most difficult and boring one. Why? Because we have a problem with looking at things from the perspective of a child, that is, from the perspective of a beginner’s mind. We are proud of our experiences, knowledge, very often unaware that these very things can make it difficult for us to be in the present moment and enjoy life. Therefore, we easily fall into the trap of doing things on autopilot, mechanically and unconsciously. Although at the beginning of the raisin exercises I instruct not to name the “objects” we received, almost always someone has to say: “Well it’s a raisin”, I even had a participant in one group who proudly said: “Well, we have more experience than children so it is difficult for us to have a beginner’s mind”.

Nurturing the beginner’s mind can help us in meditation by making this experience more conscious and simple, it can also help us in the activities we do every day, it can motivate and inspire us to look at every moment in life as unique and unrepeatable because that is exactly what it is. It can help us not to get stuck in the whirlpool of our previous experiences, knowledge and old, outdated beliefs about ourselves and the world. Very often, the beginner’s mind has proven to be beneficial for improving our relationships as well. How many people and relationships in your life do you take for granted guided by some of your previous experiences, thoughts and feelings related to them? In the next conversations and meetings with certain people, try to nurture the beginner’s mind and listen and observe them as if you are meeting them for the first time as if you are just getting to know each other. Many participants in the eight-week Mindfulness training told me that this attitude has improved their quality of life, enjoyment of life and relationships with loved ones.

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