Courage comes from the French word coeur which means heart. Literally, courage means to have heart. When we have an open heart, we are expansive. Shunryu Suzuki says, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities.” But it takes courage to remain open to them.
Consider yourself lucky if somewhere in the middle of your life you are struck by the newness of your situation. Perhaps you are changing careers, going back to school, or venturing through the next part of your life without a partner.
At the start, all the possibilities are laid before you. You might feel a little uneasy; like a fish out of water. And as that tiny bit of doubt creeps into your mind, your ego might feed you lies and say things like:
You don’t know what you’re doing.
You are not ready for change.
You are not worthy of more.
You don’t have the tools to begin again.
The challenge is to approach beginnings as a learning opportunity and view what is before you with fresh eyes rather than through a lens of doubt. As we go through life and its inevitable pain, the ego builds up a defense mechanism and our hearts close.
Babies look at their surroundings with hearts wide open, taking everything in with a sense of wonder and awe. We are born without preconceived notions or established beliefs; all things new. How do we carry that mindset with us every day for the rest of our lives?
In order to live fully present in this moment we must have the courage to keep our hearts open.
Buddhist psychology tells us in order to do this we must practice the art of the “Beginner’s Mind.”
At the precipice of something unfamiliar, there are certain things we can do to face what is coming with courage, so as to encounter the experience with an open heart.
To practice Beginner’s Mind, try the following:
One – Assess the situation. In the present moment, look at the facts as if you have no past experience to cloud your judgment. What do you know for sure? What questions do you have?
Two – Seek out multiple perspectives. As you search for information with an open heart, remember to ask for input from all sources; not just the ones you know.
Three – Understand that knowledge is not finite. Imagine that what you have learned so far might change over time as you gather more data.
Four – Look for inspiration. From the most elaborate ant colony to the vast universe in the night sky, one glance around a forest or towards the horizon of the ocean will show how big the world around us is and how relatively small we are in comparison. Ground yourself in nature. It is awe inspiring.
Keeping an open heart takes courage. It requires one to face the unfamiliar from a place of wonder rather than a place of judgment. An open heart requires immense vulnerability that brings with it both joy and pain. Truly to learn and grow in this world, we must shed the ego’s doubtful words and allow ourselves to approach life from a sense of wonder, a place of courage, and with an open heart.
How do I carry a beginner’s mindset with me when I experience something new?
Please contact Rachel Gordon if you have questions about Buddhist psychology and integrative, holistic techniques to address mental health issues and promote total body wellness. If you live in areas such as DTC, Lone Tree, Parker, Castle Pines, or Castle Rock and would like to learn more about what Rachel has to offer through Humble Warrior Therapy, please call (303) 688-6698 or click here to schedule.
Tags: Change, Living in the Moment