Fall in Love with Beginner’s Mind

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Do you remember the first time you fell in love?  How everything somehow seemed brighter, more beautiful and meaningful?  And the notion of a love that conquers all didn’t seem that farfetched before strings of disappointments or heartbreaks.

At times like this, our entire being becomes open to all possibilities. Feelings of rapture dispels doubt during the “honeymoon” phase. And we are present to every precious moment. When we do this, we are engaging in “Shoshin.”

Shohin is a Zen term meaning “beginner’s mind.” It refers to an open, curious and enthusiastic mind without preconceptions.

This is a common reaction when we’re learning something unfamiliar or experiencing an exhilarating life situation like falling in love, starting our dream job, or travelling.  This “beginner’s mind,” however, is an attitude worth cultivating for our lives in general. The intention is to acknowledge and treat each moment like it’s our first time doing it. This allows us to cultivate feelings of intrigue, anticipation, and for the beginning to begin again.

As the late Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki gracefully explained, “if your mind is empty, it is ready for anything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

As children, we marveled at ordinary objects. That’s why toddlers can play the same game repeatedly with vigor and excitement each time. While for many us, after around the fourth time, we start to get bored and speculate how much longer we (or they) can last. That’s because as adults, we tend to think we know everything or have “been there done that.” Complacency takes the place of wonder.

And complacency breeds boredom, which can lead to feelings of meaninglessness or even depression. Then, we’re either depressed or anxiously trying to distract ourselves from depression.

Our unconscious or conscious attempts to distract ourselves from feeling depressed makes us feel anxious and stressed—often manifested in a constant need to be doing something or remaining hyper active on some level. Either way, it’s a far cry from feelings of delight.

We need to rediscover our childlike wonderment, carefreeness and fascination about life—a place where everything has a feeling of purpose and “new beginnings.” That way, we remain in awe by our life experiences—moment by moment, breath by breath.

That is Shoshin, the heart of meditation, mindfulness, and the key to continuously falling in love with life.

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