Beginner’s mind can be a profound part of your mindfulness practice. In simple terms, it’s an attitude of curiosity and openness. It involves letting go of preconceptions and developing an eagerness for both new and habitual experiences. It can help you move beyond the limitations and fears that keep you from learning new things or enjoying the process (as opposed to being fixated on the final result).
When I first began a yoga practice, I tried to do a headstand and failed. I didn’t enjoy it on many levels. It hurt the top of my head and my neck, and I was petrified of hurting myself if I fell over. I also didn’t want my teacher to watch me fail epically at something that was so easy for him. So, for years, headstands weren’t a part of my practice. It never even occurred to me to focus on strengthening postures or to even try a headstand again.
I’d already determined that I couldn’t. That I wouldn’t ever.
When the concept of beginner’s mind came to me, I searched my life for my limitations. Not an easy thing to do because most of us don’t consider them limitations, we consider them facts; immutable laws of nature. It was sometimes mentally painful to rearrange my beliefs and see experiences in a different light. Especially headstands.
Along the way, I stumbled into several maxims and mantras that were helpful when I found myself miles away from open-mindedness, curiosity, and freshness. They aren’t original to me, but they do have my own personal spin on them.
Beginner’s mind brings creativity, opportunities, and possibilities. It’s about celebration and being mindful of how we are or are not growing. In my experience, beginner’s mind isn’t a state you need to be in 24/7. But cultivating a strong sense of what it means for you can help you access it when you need it most.
I still cannot do a headstand. And maybe I never will. But I do practice the headstand now. I do the strengthening postures and in in class, I go over to the wall and have my teacher help me bring my legs up. Sometimes I stay like that for a full minute. Sometimes he walks away and I fall right over. My practice of beginner’s mind helps me to say, “Maybe today’s the day.”