“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki
Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism which means Beginner’s Mind. Shoshin refers to the openness, curiosity, and lack of preconception a beginner brings to their study and practice of new material.
Those who practice Shoshin experience learning just as fresh as a neophyte would, even when studying at an advanced level.
I define Beginner’s Mind as allowing new experiences to unfold without expectations – to become immersed in the experience, rather than in my thoughts about how the experience should be.
This openness allows me to indulge my curiosity, plunge into uncharted waters, and remain a dedicated and interested student of life.
As the mother of a young daughter, I witness the beauty of Beginner’s Mind every day.
This maternal observation, coupled with the fact that I am an experiential learner, supports a natural state of wonderment—a way to squeeze more sweetness out of every day.
When you have no preconceptions, there is no room for internal competition or an overactive ego, and no need to be fully proficient. It’s more about showing up and seeing what happens next.
Here are some examples of how Shoshin shows up in my life. As you read through these examples, I invite you to draw parallels to your own work, activities, and interests.
Capturing landscape images is one of my great passions. My camera is my creative partner when exploring the breathtaking Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore in northern Michigan. The rich textures, light, and colors of the area are pure perfection.
Each time I venture outdoors with my camera, Beginner’s Mind is with me. What I love most about photography is the very private expression of what is on public display: The entire world through the lens of a camera. I have a never-ending appetite for capturing great and crushing beauty, and that one perfect expression.
I am a fearless cook, thanks to being raised by a mama who was always experimenting with new recipes. I love to prepare, and enjoy, good food. When I find new recipes that sound delicious, I make them without hesitation.
Learning about new ingredients and cooking methods is a lot of fun. My current mission is preparing healthier recipes. It’s an exploration, and my family has suffered through a few lousy dinners, but I’m staying open to the possibilities. After all, anyone can learn to cook if they’re willing to make a big mess and eat a few less-than-appetizing meals.
Last winter I signed up for a virtual painting class to learn how to paint. I had been fantasizing about painting for years. The 6-month course challenged me to paint the goddess within. From the first brush stroke to the last, I experienced a beautiful way to bring more creativity and peace into my life.
Learning how to paint without self-judgement and expectation kept me in the zone of Beginner’s Mind.
Writing is something that snuck up on me and spun me about. I love to write and have coauthored three best- selling books. My first solo book, Life on Your Terms was an enormous undertaking.
Thanks to Beginner’s Mind, I was able to make small steps, and ask for support along the way from technical writers and copy editors. When preparing and birthing manuscripts and digital programs, Beginner’s Mind makes all the difference in how you experience the process.
I have a beautiful longbow that I shoot occasionally. Sometimes I even hit the target! I don’t shoot to hit the bull’s eye, though. For me, it’s about the process, and being in the moment. Slowing down my breath, setting up the shot, pulling back on the string as I inhale, then releasing with a whoosh on each exhale.
What’s more, every shot that’s released has a chance of hitting the target, and the chances get better the more I breathe, focus and remain unattached to the outcome.
Transformational coaching is my passion and professional calling. One of the reasons why I love the business of mentoring is because each client session beckons me to be fully present, curious and supportive.
Even though I have hundreds of hours of coaching experience, I am humbled by how much there is for me to learn. My job is to show up without any preconceived notion, listen and learn. Staying in Shoshin helps me do my best work for others.
All you need to enjoy Beginner’s Mind is the courage to step forward with an open mind and allow your curiosity to unfold. There’s no need for perfection. You don’t have to be great at everything you have an interest in. Instead, become a student of life. You deserve to sample, experiment, investigate, and experience life with unfiltered enthusiasm!
Have you experienced Beginner’s Mind? How did it feel?
What are you most curious about?
What is stopping you from experimenting with a new interest?
How will you infuse Beginner’s Mind into your life and expertise?