Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cultivating A Beginner's Mind

I'm heading to Iceland on Friday for a week-long trek through a unique part of the earth called Laugavegur. This area in southeast Iceland has been described as "Yellowstone on steroids." It is characterized by geothermal activity such as geysers, hot springs, and volcanoes. It also features several glaciers. The photo above is from the official Iceland Tourism website.

When heading to a place I've never been, I have a sense of adventure and a feeling of anticipation. I feel open and alive to new possibilities and challenges. In Zen Buddhism there is a concept called "beginner's mind" (Shoshin). It refers to having a sense of openness, eagerness and a lack of preconceptions when approaching a topic of study. Cultivating a beginner's mind toward all subjects, even those that are very familiar, fosters deeper engagement and learning.

I'm going to Iceland with a beginner's mind, even though I've read three books on this country and think I know what to expect. I want to be open and receptive to all that this amazing place has to offer.

However, a beginner's mind is good to cultivate no matter where we're going or what we're studying. A sense of approaching something for the first time helps us to not prejudge and, therefore, keeps things new and fresh.

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