“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; in the expert’s mind, there are few.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki
In Zen Buddhism, there is a concept known as “Shoshin,” which translates into "beginner's mind." We are invited each time we step on our yoga mat to invoke a state of Shoshin and approach our practice free from any preconceived ideas of perfection, comparison, or competition. This is no easy task and may demonstrate itself to be one of the most challenging aspects of a yoga practice. But by emptying out the mind of these limiting expectations, we are better able to explore and experience our practice with curiosity, inquisitiveness, awe, and wonder.
"There is a sacredness in asking “What can I learn?” from a pose that one has practiced thousands of times."
A yoga practice is designed to create an experience within which to engage in a process of self-inquiry. This critical process of self-inquiry can become thwarted when the mind is filled with assumptions or suppositions. Because the moment we presume to know the answer, we are no longer listening. The repetitive nature of the movements becomes a placeholder for practitioners to go within and discover what has not yet been discovered, to turn our attention and focus and energy towards what might be life's most important question:
Who am I?
"To truly embrace beginner’s mind, we must soften around our tendency to assume."
~ Steven Leonard
WIPING THE SLATE CLEAN
When first starting a yoga practice, it is easier to be in a beginner's mind because everything is a brand new experience. The challenge is to return back to this beginner's mindset over and over and over again over the lifetime of our practice. Allowing ourselves to "not know," when years of conditioned thinking has convinced us we "do know," takes trust, courage, and vulnerability. The process of untethering ourselves from this old way of thinking requires commitment, consistency, and time in order to disengage from complacency so that we may open to grace and reawaken the conscious process of spiritual transformation.
“Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
Lisa and Kevin McCormack
Owners of Black Cat Yoga