Beginner’s Mind

beginner's mind

Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.  – Meister Eckhart

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) refers to the concept of “Beginner’s Mind,” a Zen Buddhist practice of keeping your childlike openness and readiness to experience.

Think about how often you zoom through your days mindlessly and robotically. Imagine if everything you did, you did instead as if you were doing it for the first time. Picture yourself during your daily commute or taking your morning coffee. This is a novel experience each and every time. What do you see, hear, or taste? What if every day, you approached these experiences as if they were your first, rather than monotonously going through the motions? What would you focus on? Would you be more present? Can you imagine the effect? Do you feel a sense of wonder or excitement bringing a child to your favorite restaurant, theme park, or activity? That’s because you’re picturing the experience through the child’s eyes – beginner’s mind!

Shunryu Suzuki writes: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”  When we become “experts” on places or situations, people or things, we shut down to possibility, to incorporating novel information, points of view, or opportunities. But if we remain open and curious, so many possibilities await us.

Yes, this is a cup of coffee, just like the one you had yesterday. But is it really the same? If you brewed it yourself, did the liquid drip at the exact same rate? Were you watching? Is it the same color or density? How do the flavors blend in this uniquely brewed and flavored cup? There’s a wonderment that exists when we make each situation, no matter how many times we’ve lived it, something novel. And, the more we pay attention to detail, focusing on what is immediately present, the less we drift off into past or future, typical triggers for anxiety and depression.

Can you try Beginner’s Mind today?

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