I like the question “what is beginner’s mind” because it points to a phrase that is often used carelessly. Where did this phrase originate; where did it begin? There are many Master teachers who taught the Beginner’s Mind viewpoint. It’s meaning is often hard to discern as the language of Zen Masters is the koan. Koans are parables translated into English from Japanese. I will convey my understanding of this overused phrase and it’s meaning, its importance to meditative practice and benefits.
The beginning of anything is naturally a point in time or something we construct in our minds. It is basic awareness where there was no prior awareness. We awaken to the moment. Please follow this logic, “beginner’s mind” is any mind that is inwardly witnessing itself and is open to experiences as they are presenting without bias. We lose contact with beginner’s mind when our mind wanders off to points in time that are not the moment we’re currently experiencing or we are heavily burdened with preconceived ideas or bias about our experience.
Cultivating beginner’s mind can lead to deeper meditative states. Making a point of using the breath, recognize how your breath moves into and out of your body, is a path to the present moment - from there drop the ideas about how that moment is and simply experience. Then, experience yourself experiencing that moment. Practice sustaining this awareness for a minute, then add a minute. It does not have to be so formal. You can do this anywhere you find yourself.
You may notice that if you practice beginner’s mind during stressful meetings or interactions you can actually lower your defensiveness and experience less stress/conflict. Eventually, with this practice, you will find that every day is a new day, every moment you can begin again. The way you experience life changes (automatically, effortlessly). I hope you will give this a try and share your comments below….