Beginner’s Mind – Foundation of Mindfulness # 3

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.

Shunryo Suzuki

Past experiences and preconceived ideas have great value when it comes to making decisions about everyday activities. However, they are tainted to the degree that we cannot absorb the new reality of the present time or the face value of an action, a discussion, or a situation. It is always comfortable to skim through the information to support and validate our previous experience; nevertheless, we tend to lose the possibility of learning a new way of doing things or transforming our ideas for the better by seeing things with fresh eyes.

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Art by Magritte – The Human Condition

Everybody knows that some things are simply impossible until somebody who doesn’t know that makes them possible. - Albert Einstein

The real problem starts when you are an expert, one who has more assumptions than questions. Fending off new ways of doing things or not being receptive to new ideas happens to the experienced. An apprehension swishes and contaminates the mind, which in turn will end up either with cherry-picking to justify the established rules and practices or simply dismissal of the new approach.

When we adopt the mind of a beginner, we endeavour to look at things as if for the first time, free from the influence of the past or speculation about the future. We open ourselves to what is here now, rather than constructing stories about what we think is here. Much like a scientist who observes without bias, beginner’s mind allows us to collect raw data. This opens us up to new possibilities, rather than being confined by habits and conditioning. — Tracy Ochester.

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Art by Magritte – The treachery of images

A beginner’s mind is keen to meet a new person, have a fresh outlook on familiar people, or learn a new skill. Practicing beginners’ minds (or shoshin in Japanese Zen Buddhism) feeds a growth mindset. An outlook that refuses to have more of the same for the rest of its life knows well that the safety zone is not always the right place to be. It stales the mind and prevents you from growing and reaching your potential. By default, we prefer to stay in our comfort zone, yet adopting a growth mindset requires courage to embrace vulnerability and humility. To acknowledge that there is always a better way of doing things or when it comes to human relations, we give people the benefit of the doubt.

Ways to Cultivate a beginner’s mind

  • Adopt the notion that endless possibilities exist.
  • Switch off the autopilot mode. 
  • Be in the present moment.
  • Listen carefully when a familiar topic comes up; you don’t have to rush to express your opinion or add value; observe and ask questions like you didn’t know about the subject.
  • Explore something to re-experience the feelings; it can be basic as eating your meal or making your bed.
  • Stop labeling and notice that you are on auto judgment – Ask yourself why you consider things as bad, good, right, or wrong? Is it out of habit? Integrate seeing things in your life as they are!
  • Learn a new activity to integrate challenges to your comfort zone
  • Mingle with people who have a different view of life and explore their perspective and lifestyle.
  • Change a routine in your life, your walking route, exercise, or things you eat. 
  • Practice gratitude and appreciation – it weakens the habit of taking things for granted.

 

For more information, read “Full Catastrophe Living” by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Featured Image by aykutaydogdu

How To Control Your Anger?

Life has unpleasant incidents, and naturally, the pressures and pain felt from the troublesome problems or offensive behaviors often manifest through anger. An emotion that ramps up high blood pressure, stress, anxieties, and evoking hard feelings in relationships. The reasons behind this emotion depend on different situations, whether it is from being helpless to have been treated unjustly or overwhelmed and fearful. One form or another, anger is a response to pain. Still, pain is not the only reason; our thoughts, assumptions, or interpretations intensify emotion. As humans, we tend to have unrealistic and hopeful expectations, such as being understood by everyone, or everything will go as planned. Possibly our hopes shattered, and we are in for a rude awakening. This is when anger creeps in.

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Welderwings

Anger can also happen consciously or unconsciously to distract attention from the root cause of the pain and redirecting the focus to external factors. In this situation, the pain’s ease is temporary and leaves the person vulnerable to chronic emotional distress.

 

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Welderwings

Anger complicates situations. It gives the furious sense of righteousness and power a feeling of superiority without considering other perspectives. Regrettably, this perverse gratification of anger to stamp oneself as a torchbearer of moral supremacy league will use up the individual’s credibility. An uncomfortable situation commands assertiveness in response rather than aggressive behavior.

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Welderwings

 Nevertheless, anger can be used constructively once you gain insight into the reasons. In many ways, it can serve to be indeed in control of our reactions. To manage our anger in a difficult or unforeseen situation, practice three steps:

  • Shift your thoughts to a neutral state. Do no associate negative motives to the person or their action.
  • Observe and listen, do not lash out; it will make you look irrational.
  • Be assertive and specific in expressing your feelings and expectations without offending or undermining other people’s rights to think or act differently.

In a foggy situation, when we are at most vulnerable, a little anger is the antidote. Use it wisely. If we throw a tantrum, our emotions can cloud our judgment, and we can come across as unqualified or a pain to deal with. Assertively communicate what is at stake. Like a campaigner who believes in its cause and passionately points to the injustice, take command to tell your story with conviction and rally support.

 

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Rob Woodcox

Clearly, dealing with anger or angry people is not an easy task; as long as we know that arguments, displeasures, and sadness exist and we compassionately realize that there is a reason for them, solutions appear. He knew that everyone has vulnerabilities, and it takes sound judgment to look beyond unwarranted anger. The famous story about Alexander taming Bucephalus by noticing that the famous horse was afraid of his own shadow illustrates good practicing sense. He pointed Bucephalu’s nose towards the sun and calmed the beast.

 

Featured image by Shaylin Wallace