When we do things over and over again we lose the fresh perspective we had when it was new to us. When we start a new job there is a novelty to it: new tasks, new commute and new colleagues, but these new things quickly lose their sparkle. In Zen Buddhism, there is a term for the state of mind when we view everything as fresh and new, and this is known as the ‘Beginner’s Mind’.
“Of course you will have a beginner's mind when you are embarking on learning something new…"
This is not necessarily the case... It is more than just seeing everything as new and exciting. It is starting a journey without making assumptions about how things work. It is saying yes to something new without pre-empting what will happen. It is being curious to find out more. And it is a realisation that you don’t know what is or is not possible.
When you adopt the beginner's mindset, you open yourself up to more creativity because you consider possibilities that you would have said no to before. You may want to say no to painting a rainbow coloured flower because they aren’t realistic, but the beginner’s mind will be excited to play with colour to explore how that will look.
Why should we adopt a beginner’s mind?
It can lower anxiety levels.
When we want to do something like learning to paint, our ‘expert mind’ assumes we know how things will work out. We start thinking about the ways we may fail, how difficult it may be or how steep the learning curve may be. If we adopt a 'beginner’s mind' however, we start getting curious about what we could create. We are also more likely to stay in the moment and embrace the journey.
We are less likely to procrastinate.
Anyone else a procrastinator? When we sit down to do something new we often sabotage ourselves by getting distracted or avoiding the task at hand because we are worrying about whether we can successfully complete it. Our brain tries to protect us from failure before we even try. But if we go into a new activity with no preconceived ideas of the future, we can be curious and dare we say excited about what will happen when we get stuck in.
You are less likely to give up.
It is so easy to feel discouraged when we are learning something new and we so often and easily give up, especially when we are not seeing the results we want straight away. In the beginner’s mind, failure is seen as feedback. When we are faced with a dead-end in a maze, we do not see that dead-end as a failure and stay where we are, we see it as a sign that we have taken a wrong turn and need to choose again. That is how it is with a beginner’s mind. A mistake is not seen as a failure but a learning experience; a stepping stone to the end goal.
You are open to new ideas and possibilities.
Once we think we know something - for example; that we are not creative, that we will fail, that we cannot devote the time, we stop listening and experiencing the world around us. We tune into the things we feel we can do, we listen to what we believe to be true (all those experiences that show us that we really aren’t creative) and tune out the rest. Our world gets smaller and we miss out on the fun of experimenting, exploring and discussing the possibilities our world has to offer until we adopt the 'beginner’s mind'.
Adopting a beginner’s mind is something that we have disconnected with as we have grown, but it is through adopting this mindset that helps us connect with the present moment to be mindful in our learning and adopt a fresh outlook on life. We will certainly try it more often when we sit down to create and paint, we hope you will too.