The Beginner’s Mind | Eric Schoff

Posted by on July 31, 2020 in Conscious Living, Meditation with 0 Comments

By Eric Shoff

We've all heard of beginner's luck: a newbie's seemingly supernatural ability to excel in a new endeavor. In the meditation community, there is an idea called beginners mind. The concept is very similar and can be harnessed by both new and experienced meditators to enhance their practice. In this article, I will attempt to uncover some of the mystery of this phenomenon and apply it to meditation practice in a practical manner.

The meditation I will be referring to in this article is Buddhist Samadhi. The goal is a still, bright, poised mind free of thought. The aim is to quiet the mind into deep states of stillness through acceptance, kindness, and letting go.

As experienced meditators, we have rich libraries of experiences and instruction. Ultimately, any idea that these experiences belong to us will hinder our ability to let go and slip into deep meditation. We form an identity based on past meditation experiences. This identity is a very large, huge, massive, immense, incredibly daunting obstacle. In short, it's called our ego.

The ego always seeks to control. To meditate we must go in the opposite direction. Since a new meditator has not had time to build an identity around their meditation practice he or she can more easily let go and “fall” into deep Samadhi.

The reason a beginner's mindset is so potent has to do with their lack of knowledge, and thus the lack of control. Since beginners generally don’t know what they’re doing, they tend to be more fluid and able to go with the flow without questioning and thinking about it too much. Basically, they don't know what to do and thus let go and do nothing. By doing nothing, I mean they are with their current experience without judging or trying to change it. They are mindful and aware of their body and mind, but not controlling. The mind loves this lack of judgment and begins to grow brighter and more content. Happiness and clarity soon follow.

We don't need to be a beginner to experience this advantage. We just need to let go. Let go of all the cherished teachings we have been told. Just for this sitting. They will be there for you afterward. Let go of all the memories of beautiful (and not so beautiful) meditation experiences you've had.

Imagine being a beginner. Imagination is extremely powerful for developing a state of mind. In this case, we develop a state of mind of a curious student. Be mindful of whatever thoughts or sensations in the body you may be having, but willing to just watch them and notice what happens. Forfeit your plan for how the meditation should go. Forfeit expectations. Be humble enough to just watch.

Once the mind brightens up and becomes still, nature takes over. You won’t wonder what to do next as you’ll be having a fantastic time. The happiness will keep the mind still and the stillness will keep the mind happy…and the upward spiral will continue. My intention is to get you to this point.

Good meditation, like all spiritual truths, levels the playing field for all. Beginners and professionals alike are ultimately brought back to the same level when the ego vanishes. Unity.

As the great teacher, Ajahn Chah of the Buddhist Theravada forest tradition taught: ‘We meditate to let go of things, not gain them.'

“When you’re an absolute beginner

It’s a panoramic view

From her majesty Mount Zion

And the kingdom is for you”

– M. Ward

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