You may have heard of beginner’s mind. Back in grad school when I was barely 20 years old,Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Suzuki Roshi was required reading for the dancer. With all due respect to the professor who assigned the book, I have to admit that it was lost on me at that age.
In recent years, though, I see great merit in developing the beginner’s mind mentality for all new undertakings, including learning Pilates and Gyrotonic. I’m also more sympathetic to older adults who walk into our studio facing the daunting prospect of “not knowing”.
It takes courage to work through the discomfort of self-doubt. Try to look at it this way, though, being a stranger in your own body may be just what is needed to achieve a new level of mastery. And just like any true adventure, you might be surprised by the places you’ll go and by the discoveries made along the way.
When you come in for a lesson, then, I encourage you to pause, clear your mind with a few full, deep breaths, let your guard down and approach the process with a sense of curiosity and openness…a beginner’s mind.
Beginner’s Mind requires you to suspend judgment and release fixed notions of what you can or can’t accomplish,
With a beginner’s mind, you can accept that it’s alright to feel awkward. Allow yourself to learn, correct and refine while doing. Stay present in the movement experience with a calm mind.
Know that as a beginner, it is normal to use more tension or effort than is needed. The movements will feel more natural and flowing with repetition.
Remember that at any skill level, beginner to advanced, there is always room for improvement. If something is difficult, meet the challenge by trusting that it will become easier as you get stronger and just as importantly, as your understanding of the movement develops. Vow to practice and let go of being right or perfect.
Let yourself not know so that someday you may more fully understand!
By Dilla Mastrangelo
July 7, 2009