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Lions Roar : January 2019
BEGINNER’S MIND (SHOSHIN) is a term in Zen Buddhism that describes a mind that is eager, without preconcep- tions, and open to possibility. As the late Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki Roshi famously said, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind, there are few.” One way to invoke beginner’s mind is to go back to the fundamentals of meditation practice, which are rooted in two essential questions: “What’s going on right now?” and “What is my practice EZRA BAYDA is a teacher at Zen Center San Diego. His new book is Aging for Beginners (Wisdom Publications). ©KELLISEEGERKIM/STOCKSYUNITED in this situation?” You could spend a long time working on nothing but these two questions, and it would no doubt be very fruitful. Let’s start with the first question: “What’s going on right now?” At the most basic level, what’s going on at the moment is that you’re reading this article. But what else is going on? I find it helpful to break that down into three components: the physical, mental, and emotional. Starting with what’s going on physi- cally, there are three specific areas you can always bring your attention to. The first is your posture. Feel it now and adjust as necessary. The second is your facial expression. We’re rarely aware of the subtleties of our facial expressions. Feel it now, particularly the tension around the mouth and eyes, and soften any tension. The third is overall bodily tension. Feel the whole of yourself, almost as if you were outside of yourself, and then soften and relax into the body. Next, what’s going on right now men- tally? For example, is the mind clear or foggy? Perhaps it’s sleepy or dull. Perhaps it’s agitated. The point is just to be aware of what’s happening in our mind, not judging that any mental state is particu- larly good or bad. Here it’s often helpful to ask another question: “What am I adding?” For example, we may notice our worries, or HEART & MIND How to Cultivate Your Beginner’s Mind Beginner’s mind is open, curious, and unbound by concepts and opinions—just like the mind of the buddhas. EZRA BAYDA has some techniques you can use to cultivate the fresh mind of the beginner. LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2019 17 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE