Why its so good to be a beginner
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." -Shunryu Suzuki
Can you remember the last time you sat on the floor? Or the stairs?
When I had young children I spent a lot of time on the floor playing, drying them after baths and picking up toys. I realised that as adults our perspectives becomes quite limited. We sit in a chair, stand up, walk or maybe run and lie in a bed. When you crawl around on the floor you notice different things, even if it’s only the dust on the skirting board!
It’s very easy to slip into autopilot, especially when you have an established routine. We walk or drive along the same roads everyday, sit at the same desk, eat the same lunch. With busy lives its natural to take comfort in the familiar. There’s a limit to the amount we can pay attention to but if our routine becomes too rigid, we lose our plasticity, our ability to adapt to change.
Last year a friend told me that she aimed to start a new habit every month and it really inspired me. I had been meaning to join a Tai Chi class for years and although I had found a class nearby, I had never got around to it.
I could make the excuse that I was too busy and couldn’t commit to attending every week but I knew that was only part of it. Another reason was fear of the unknown. It was in a new yoga studio and I didn’t know what it would be like. Did they have places left? How did I join? Would I manage as a beginner? Did I need any special gear? What would the teacher be like? What would the other people be like? Blah blah blah…
Without realising, I had erected so many barriers to entry it was much easier to just think I didn’t have time.
But my friend Wilma had inspired me and I wanted Tai Chi to be my first new habit. To get myself out of overwhelm I worked out what the first step would be. That was all I needed to do to get started.
I found the yoga studio web site. That answered many of my questions and I was able to book online. Step two, I booked a place. Step three, I went along. Well, actually that was probably step four. Step three was more like “fretting about what I was going to wear, how I was going to get there and what time I needed to leave”. All that fun stuff!
When I finally got there I loved it. The class was really friendly and it turned out they were only a couple of lessons ahead of me. The teacher is great and it’s a lovely venue. Three months on, Tai chi has become one of my new habits. The Friday evening class has become a lovely way to end my week.
My routine has a new component and I am learning something new. For an hour a week I have a beginners mind.
The beginners mind gives me space to play and be curious. I may not be chasing my kids around anymore but being a beginner allows the same fresh perspective to seep into other areas of my life.
One of the gifts I received for Christmas was a Bucket List Box. On the front is says “be FEARLESS”. It contains a tiny pen and slips of paper so I can fill the box with my dreams, goals and things I hope to do and accomplish. Inside the lid it says,
“You have to want it more than you are afraid of it!”
Is there a new habit you’re ready to start? What’s the first step? Just googling the times of a new class you’re interested in is the first step towards creating a more inspiring week.