Terre Pruitt's Blog

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Beginner’s Mind

Posted by terrepruitt on October 11, 2014

In Nia there is something called “the beginner’s mind”. Since learning about it associated with Nia, I have heard about it in association with other things.  It might not always be called “beginner’s mind”, but it is the same concept, the same idea.  It is the idea of stepping into something – anything, even if is something you are well familiar with – with a mind as if you are a beginner.  Step into it as if you are hearing it, doing it, seeing it, or learning it for the first time.  Step in as if you are a beginner.

This is a wonderful tool.  When you walk into a situation with an empty cup, when it is not full of knowledge on the subject, it is able to be filled with all the information, new stuff is easy to learn, stuff you already “know” can be learned in a new way, and your cup gets filled again.

There are many reasons why you might want to practice the “beginner’s mind”.  It could be because you are required – perhaps through your company, your certifying board, or any number of things – to take a particular class.  It could be because – even though you know you don’t know everything there is to know . . . the timing of the class has you thinking it will be a waste of time.  It could be — as just mentioned — you know you don’t know everything, but the length of the class has you thinking you will only get two hours worth of information out of the twelve hours you are being required to attend.

When I take a Nia class I always step in with a beginner’s mind.  I know that no matter what routine is going to be taught it is going to be different.  Which is not to say that the teacher will not do it correctly or will not do it the way it was taught on the DVD, but it does allow me to easily accept.  I accept the way the teacher is teaching it.  It flows so much better if I am just receiving as opposed to trying to inject my knowledge and the way the routine is supposed to be done.  I accept that the teacher might not teach it exactly as I teach it.  The teacher might use different pearls.  The teacher use different cues.  She might have found that a slight change in the choreography works better for her students or even something for her.  And . . . with the idea that I am doing it as a beginner . . . instead of an expert who knows the routine . . . I can learn something.  If I just do as I am being instructed I might sense that the move she does is actually good for a particular audience.  Or the pearls that the teacher uses really matches well with the movements.  Instead of my inner dialog being the moves or worse something like, “Well, here I say, ‘XXX'” or here we move like XXX, with my beginner’s mind I am listening instead of “talking” over what is happening.  All of this could lead to discover of a new movement pattern.

In regards to a training where you are required to be, it could just make it be less dreadful than you thought it would.  If you accept the fact that it is a requirement and decide to walk in with a beginner’s mind being told stuff you already know is not such a waster of time.  Keeping the beginner’s mind and not telling your entire story to prove what you know gives you time to listen to what others know and learn about them.  And — as stated before — possibly hear the same information but in a new way.  Allowing yourself to let go and not be the expert is freeing and lets you relax into the learning process.

I was grumpy this past week because I knew I had to spend my Friday night (FRIDAY NIGHT) and all day Saturday in a training.  I was afraid that my grumpiness would keep me from learning and be recognized by others.  So I asked for help and was reminded of the beginner’s mind.  I was able to step into the class not as grumpy.  Of course, I did mention the fact to the trainer that it was a long training and the trainer – being an EXPERT trainer and pretty awesome – agreed, gave me the sympathy I wanted and boom!  I got over it.  🙂  With my “cup” empty . . . I learned some cool things!

Do you every have the opportunity to practice the “beginner’s mind”?  Have you every practice the “beginner’s mind”?  How did practicing the “beginner’s mind” work for you?  

14 Responses to “Beginner’s Mind”

  1. Lisa said

    We learned that in Taekwondo. It’s an excellent concept. I use it all the time! 🙂


  2. Corey said

    I run a gym and have been a strength coach for 16 years…always the guy giving direction, holding the timer, setting up, opening the doors, etc. I started learning how to cook and taking jiujitsu/boxing and loved the fact that I was learning something completely new. It helped me clear my mind and was a great mental vacation. Awesome post and topic.


    • Yes, learning COMPLETELY BRAND NEW things is great. Sometimes when you are in the process of learning a COMPLETELY BRAND NEW thing, you discover a passion. I think that learning NEW things about stuff you already know can sometimes re-ignite a passion. The beginner’s mind is so powerful! Thanks for stopping by, Corey!


  3. dani said

    What a stunning approach to take to anything in life, Terre! I sincerely hope I can learn to appy this at least some of the time. It’s not so much that I think I already know everything I need to know, it’s that it’s difficult for me to settle my mind enough to truly focus on the “now” and I think this would work.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog! That just happened to be the first new poem I’ve written in about six weeks ~ maybe the “beginner’s mind” will even help me to write.

    I hope all is well with you, sweetheart! and here’s an endless supply of *Big Squishy Sparkly Hugs*! (I miss our old community on twitter, don’t you?) xoxo


    • Right. Exactly! I don’t think that people necessarily think they know all there is to know about something, but sometimes it is just difficult to relax into learning more OR relax into learning what you already know in a different way.

      Also, sometimes in a room full of experts sometimes people want to prove or share what they know, so they might not stop to listen to what is being said/taught because they are always quick to jump in with what they know or how they know it. Perhaps you have been somewhere with someone like that?

      I miss my hugs. And, yes, I miss the communication that used to occur on Twitter. Thank you sooooooooooo much for stopping by here!


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