“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few. ”
― Shunryu Suzuki
The foundational principle of mindfulness that addresses the beginner's mind speaks to how we can miss the miracle of the "ordinary" or over emphasize the "extraordinary" if we get caught up in our preconceptions. In order to touch the immediacy of the present moment in its fullness, it requires that we step back and approach each moment as if it was for the first time.
When we practice mindfulness, we do so through formal practices like seated meditation, body scan, and body practices like yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong, we benefit greatly from opening to each of these practices as if never having done them before. When we approach our practice in this way, we bring our beginner's mind to the practice and free ourselves from any expectations. Being free of expectations allows us to receive the moment just as it is with all of its possibilities. When we engage the present moment in this way the many possibilities teach us something new that we thought we might have known before, and then true learning and true healing takes place. To come into the practice thinking we know everything gets us stuck and closes us off from the abundance of each new situation.
We can take this attitude with everything we do in life. For example when we see someone that we have seen many times in the past, do we automatically judge them to be the same as they were before? Or, can we see them as a fresh manifestation of this moment and not tied to the stories we tell ourselves about them? There is freedom in meeting each experience with the mind of the beginner. With this mind everything is new...the sky, the clouds, the trees, the sound of the birds, the sound of a loved one's voice. Each of these things are always changing every moment. When we meet them in the freshness of the moment, this is where true intimacy emerges. Perhaps there is no greater suffering than when we miss our lives because everything we encounter is getting filtered through our own story and not the direct experience of this moment, which contains everything.