Practicing Beginner’s Mind in our Daily Lives

Beginner’s Mind

Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind.” It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.


Everything is born new before it changes & passes away

Today’s Koan lesson was about ‘Beginner’s Mind’. The teacher Henry Shukman asks us to use a beginner’s mind to examine whatever appears in our consciousness with a fresh perspective. He asks us to be aware of each breath coming in and leaving, each sensation and sound appearing and disappearing as if they’re appearing for the first time in our existence.

Each breath that comes in is a wonder. I am grateful that I am alive and healthy. Each sound that comes in is nature’s orchestra of birds, the creek, my own breathing, and some distant cars. Thoughts and sights appear and disappear – neither invited nor uninvited. Then I thought, “It is just perfect!”

Curiosity is a cure for our preconceived biases

As we grow older, we accumulate baggage of things and experiences and we clutter our minds with them. They add an opaqueness of layers and filters to our views and we bring preconceptions to pretty much everything.

The biases around our colleagues filter how we perceive a meeting or an encounter, hence tension and ineffective partnerships perpetuate. The frustration around our spouses builds up even though they may be doing their best to respond to our concerns. People of other religions and ideologies are undoubtedly harder to understand when we are not open to their thoughts and opinions.

Using Beginner’s Mind, we instead treat each event as if this is our very first encounter – no prior experience. We can be curious about the other party’s intention. Strangely enough, the shift in our own attitudes to beginner’s mind is likely to bring forth the change in the other person too. It is funny how that works.

Openness is the best remedy for conflicts & the best facilitator for harmony.

As openness (in the true sense, not only in optics) is the best remedy for conflicts, and the best facilitator for harmonious relationships, it seems to me that Beginner’s Mind is a great tool to create a more peaceful space, in our society, both at work and in our personal life.

Knowing is one thing. Doing is another.

Here is the thing. We know that openness is good but how often do we actually exercise this awareness earnestly in our actions? That is where meditation comes in. By practicing daily meditations, you slowly but surely build your ‘pause to check in’ muscle. Next time you may actually notice in yourself that your old-established judgment emerges, you now have a choice to take a pause, reflect and adjust your attitude towards Beginner’s Mind.

Beginner’s Mind
Previous Post

5 Effective Leadership Qualities

Next Post

Choose How You Spend Your Hours

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top