Cultivate the beginners mind

Cultivate the beginners mind

“Knowing” is the greatest enemy of learning it has been said.

People like things to be familiar; we get up at the same time each day, have our same daily routines, wash, shave, breakfast, clean teeth etc. We leave for work at the same time, park in the same spot each day. We are creatures of habits, not a bad thing as everyone likes to know where they are and what they are doing.

In martial arts when we have studied for a reasonable length of time we get into that same routine our normal way of doing things. We seem to get into a plateau or barrier to our learning doing the same things over and over again just because we have always done it this way. We lose that beginner’s mind.

Shoshin: Beginners Mind

What does Shoshin mean? It refers to a concept that is in Zen Buddhism and the Japanese martial arts meaning “beginner’s mind.”

We could describe it as having an open mind and attitude to things or non judgmental approach to try anything new before making your mind up. For me it is a state of openness, ready to explore things even if it does not fit in your box of understanding at that moment.

It refers to martial arts but could easily apply to any situation or task in life. After studying martial arts for 46 years I still feel like a beginner and am still amazed when with my students we discover something that we never considered before. This could be a different way at looking at the centreline or how we apply absorption, projection and deflection in a self defence scenario.

What keeps you in the beginners mind?

It is a lack of knowing, an eagerness to learn and apply new knowledge but not to be entrenched in it, an attitude of readiness to see and accept more things. It is a detachment to the result instead focuses on the learning process.

‘’Just because a path is well worn does not mean it is the best route.’’