Shoshin is what it means to have a beginners mind where you approach life with an open attitude to learn. It is a Zen Buddhist word that requires a mindful outlook. It requires a curious mind that can view life without judgement. The definition of mindfulness springs to mind here “paying attention in the present moment without judgement”.
As a student of Aikido I was taught to always come to the mat with a beginners mind. Always open to learning new things. I haven’t officially practiced Aikido in a Dojo for a few years but have always held the philosophy close to my heart. And now as a mindfulness practitioner I see even more important how Shoshin is to embracing happiness, health and harmony.
Having a beginners mind can serve a very positive purpose on so many levels. When you have a beginners mind it is possible to retrain and rewire your thinking. Neurolinguistic programming comes to mind now. By simply having a beginners mind, being flexible and open to new ideas, others perspectives and self-discovery you are ahead of the NLP game. Mind you I don’t want to negate the benefits of undertaking an NLP course because from what I have heard it’s a fantastic journey of learning. My point is that starting with the mind of a beginner leads to new ways of thinking. This is where a beginners mind can really come in handy if wanting to negotiate changing of habits.
Changing habits requires you to develop an awareness for what it is that needs changing. And it helps if you can view yourself in a non-judgemental, compassionate and curious manner. Adopting a beginners mind can be the first place to start.
Shoshin is something I feel I didn’t truly appreciate until recently. Or maybe it is that I didn’t appreciate my Sensei’s teachings until recently. Which is kind of the same thing isn’t it?
Learning beginners mind has been a work in progress but ultimately one I have continued to practice since my Aikido days. Meditation and having the attitude of seeing life through a curious mind is the best advice I can offer for cultivating a beginners mind. I invite you to become curious and adopt a beginners mind. Keep practicing and notice how things change – including your habits.