Adopting a Beginner’s Mind

By: Sherry Hole RN BN MN

The Risk of Expertise
When we think we are experts, we’re significantly more closed-minded and unwilling to consider other viewpoints or ideas, which only serves to limit our capacity to learn.

The Beginner’s Mind
In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind, there are few”

The practice of curiosity will unleash new levels of creativity and change your life!
Zen Monk Shunryu Suzuki

Child’s Eyes

As a child we see simple everyday things from several perspectives…a shoe becomes a hiding place; a paperclip, a stick man; a bathtub, the ocean. In school we are taught that there is one right answer to everything and that there’s only one way to find it.

Culture’ Norm

We have become so ingrained to look for the right answer and to believe only that which can be scientifically proven that we have lost our creative ability and confidence to see options or alternatives that might be staring us right in the face. Imagine where would we be if scientists and doctors suddenly stopped seeking new information and innovative solutions to healthcare problems.

Mind Over Matter

Our search for more than what is often leaves us feeling stressed, anxious, unbalanced, unsatisfied and unhappy. It is only when we understand and accept that our preconceptions and fixation on future outcomes lead to unpleasant feelings such as imbalance and stress, that we are truly ready to start seeing things through fresh eyes (Sledzinski, 2019).

Practicing a Beginner’s Mind

A beginner’s mind is a natural state that is accessible to everyone, not just children.

Begin with Intention and Focus

Choose to be in the moment. Let go of preconceived notions, ideas and thoughts and focus on one thing or nothing.

Learn to uni-task! Studies have proven that it takes longer to complete tasks and more errors are made while multi-tasking.

 Incorporate mini-meditations into your day. A 5-minute meditation can be done just about anywhere! Taking this time to sit quietly and follow your breath can be conducive to feeling calm and connected throughout the day.

Slow it Down a Notch!

Pay real attention to what you are doing. Savor each moment, whether you are sipping tea, bird-watching or washing dishes. Slowing down and paying attention allows you to experience things as if for the first time. Notice how warm tea feels as you swallow it, feel the comfort of the warm water on your hands as you wash dishes. This deliberate attention to detail promotes a healthy perspective and eases feelings of overwhelm.

Take a Tech-Break

Infobesity is real! With endless access to information and entertainment, it is very easy to experience information overload. Intentionally and mindfully set boundaries around screen-time and social-networking. Don’t forget your devices come with alarms. Set them, if you need to, to remind you that it is time to tune-OUT!

Get Moving

If you love exercise, great; if not, that’s ok too! Find a few minutes each day to engage in joyful movement…walking, dancing, gardening, yoga, or just simple stretches. Pay attention to the sensations you feel during and after movement.

Spend Time with Nature

To be mindful requires that we be with nature, not simply out in nature. When you commit to being with nature, you are more likely to leave behind thoughts related to work or familial needs. Get out there without headphones. Really listen to the birds, hear the sound of the wind as it rustles leaves, notice the sweet smell of the forest…

Intentionally being with nature contributes to physiological and psychological health benefits by reducing stress hormone production, lowering heart rate and blood pressure, boosting the immune system and improving feelings of happiness and creativity. Who could ask for anything more?!

References:

Yu, C.P. et al. (2017). Effects of Short Forest Bathing Program on Autonomic Nervous System Activity and Mood  States in Middle-Aged and Elderly Individuals. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(8), 897. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph14080897

Greenbrook Natural Pharmacy & health foods (2019). Build your curiosity. Retrieved from: http://www.greenrx.ca/build-your-curiosity/

Adopting a Beginner's Mind
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