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The Beginner’s Mind

The Beginner’s Mind

See a thing from a fresh perspective. So fresh, that it didn’t exist before.

We had our single raisin tonight. If you’re familiar with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s class, “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction,” you’ll know the raisin. Never before have I experienced so much from so little. Just a little raisin, a single raisin. No sauce, no dressing, no sprucing, not even wine. Just the raisin and me.

In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few. — Shunryu Suzuki

It was an exercise in appreciation. In focusing on one thing for a few minutes. We had the raisin in our hand, then we smelled it, even listened to it (it didn’t sound like much) and finally put it on our tongue, chewed it, and swallowed it. Then we talked about it. All about this little raisin, just this little fruit. All that attention.

Can you see it from your child’s perspective? Or harder, from someone else’s?

The raisin from the perspective of an alien in a closed, controlled environment was an extremely interesting experiment. But what about in daily life? How often can we slow down and enjoy just one thing? Not one of the twelves things we’re doing or even one of the six things we’re eating, but just one thing for a few minutes.

I forget on a daily basis that many things that my kids see every single day they’ve never seen before and don’t understand and maybe won’t for years to come. We can point them out and talk about them, learn about them, and maybe forget them just as fast. But they’re still new, fresh, and seen from the beginner’s mind.

Try it, see what you experience, what you notice, what you don’t. Can you stand the simplicity? Is it so simple? What do you notice that you didn’t notice before? The surface of a raisin is like a topographical map of craggily planet. Deep, moist, and dark valleys. High ranges of dry mountains. How is there so much taste in this wrinkled little fruit? How does so much of it get stuck in your teeth? Man is your tongue busy with working that all away. Just for a single raisin. Just this once. It’ll never be the same because it’s the first time and there’s only one first time. It’s the perspective of new, fresh, not expert, but beginner. The beginner’s mind.

What if you dropped onto another planet and everything was new?

What if you dropped onto another planet and everything was new?


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