Our lives can seem to be so complex that it can be tough to do new things. In our search for balance, connection, performance or inspiration old attachments, associations and hang-ups can often make it difficult to start something new or stop something old even though we know it might be the right thing to do.
Zen Buddhism has a concept that can be useful when we are ready to assess our current situation and create a useful change to move toward better situations. We are often experts in our own lives and while it can be helpful to be an expert, it also comes with preconceived ideas of what is and what is not possible. Beginner’s mind is an alternate state where we see things as if for the first time, where there is more possibility. Beginner’s mind has no baggage from the past and is ready to accept and doubt based on the way things are not the way they are pre-judged to be.
Your journey through life has given you a certain way of looking at things and you might have a certain direction you’re headed in, but when was the last time you took time to reassess that direction? If you were to look at the state of the different facets of your life (health, family, finances, work, spiritual, mental and social) from a fresh perspective, free of your preconceived notions you might gain a new level of insight into your existence. From the place of beginner’s mind you may have new realisations of what’s possible and what choices may best help you get there.
Day by day we become habituated into thinking certain ways and seeing our work in certain ways. This lens through which we perceive life can then block out other possibilities and opportunities that might be more exciting, fulfilling and rejuvenating. Beginner’s mind is free of such lenses and gives us the chance to see new opportunities and new possibilities. We may find we’re content with the direction of our life but would like to be getting there in easier, more elegant ways. We may also find that we want to head in a new direction entirely.
For us to make better choices and be more conscious of the journey of our life, we can take a moment to look at our path up to this point and see where we might go from here. You could do this by drawing a timeline for each of the 7 areas of life listed above and plotting your trajectory for each. Is your trajectory a degenerative one or a regenerative one? Putting this into a visual form may give you that fresh perspective of what has come before and what is likely to come after.
From this position, it is much easier to see your life in new ways. From the place of beginner’s mind, choices and the directions in which they lead us are clearer. One of the arts of living a good life, living a life of significance with grace and lightness in making better choices. To make better choices it’s useful to gain clarity of what choices we’re currently making and where they are taking us.