Beginner Mind

Those of you who have been following me should already know my view on beginners taking my workshops.  Honesty, nothing but positive things can be gained from it regardless of how novice someone is.  

This is because beginners have no preconceived notions on what they are learning is supposed to be.  Though teaching novices presents its own unique challenges, the payoff will be noticeable on both ends.  It's the concept of "shoshin", or the beginner mind I am bringing into play.   A beginner always has the most to gain due to their lack of bias.  The goal is to be able to apply the beginner mind to any new thing we learn, but is this actually possible?  Can we truly keep an open mind to new experiences?

All of us see the world through some sort of lens.  Everything we see is interpreted and molded by everything we have previously seen and experienced.  There will always be some sort of bias within us no matter how big or small.  Everything we do, say and think is guided by this and I believe to truly take on a beginner mind is nearly impossible just as a side effect of being who we are.  

As a teacher, this presents a unique challenge to me when faced with experienced trainees.  I try to be as impartial as I can when it comes to skill and technique development to account for individuality.  I believe in many paths toward the same goal.  

Chances are that any experienced student has learned some bad habits someplace or another that are holding them back to reaching a higher level.  Do we go back and start from scratch using "the universal method"?  Or can we work to modify what they have to mold it into what they want it to be.  Of course it all depends on the end goal, but what is technique if not the best method for the individual?  


I do not believe in any universal method of teaching and learning, and thus I want to present the mentality of the modified beginner mind to the experienced trainees working with a new teacher or method.  

The most important thing here is to know yourself and how your mind and body function together.  It's unlikely you can completely open your mind for a new method when you already have your own, likewise starting a new program from scratch may result in more losses than gains if you are already at a decent level.  Remember that you as an individual have the final word.  Try to visualize the modifications you have make to your current status.  Maybe you have to go back to fix some weaknesses; maybe it's about attaining a level of refinement you were not previously aware of.  Take what is useful and apply it rather than copy it.  
The point is to modify and adapt any new lessons to your current ability.  This way you can continue to learn all the while maintaining individuality.  Let what you have work with you rather than against you; every attribute has its own positive and negative consequences.  

This is the difficulty for me as a teacher working with experienced trainees.  Since it is already too late to create something new, I try my best to modify and add on to what is already there.  Of course, this takes time and more importantly the participant's willingness to change.  

So final thoughts are this:

Keep an open mind, but be aware of your own strengths, weaknesses, and limitations.  Interpret and apply rather than digest and regurgitate.  Lastly, don't be afraid to make change.