Beginner’s Mind

There are many things I love about meditation and yoga, but one of my very favorite things is the concept of beginner’s mind. Beginner’s mind is the notion of allowing yourself to be a beginner or a kindergartner. It is the view that we are forever learning and that  where we are today (e.g., in our yoga practice) is simply
Nancy Kalina
where we are today. We are encouraged to accept what is; to allow our balance, flexibility or focus to be where they are; and to simply notice without judgment. Similarly, in meditation your focus on your breath might be excellent one day, and you might be terribly distracted the next. We are discouraged from comparing ourselves to others. We are discouraged from judging and beating ourselves up if we are not where we think we should be.

Beginner’s mind is a perception that would make many of our lives better if we embraced it. Beginner’s mind comprises the concept of growing. It embraces the idea that we learn better when we are gentle with ourselves.

What a marvelous idea! Why don’t we employ this line of reasoning everywhere in our lives? Why do we expect ourselves to be perfect the first time out of the starting gate? A good illustration of this is when my partner, Kim, and I chose to learn Michael Jackson’s dance “Thriller.” It should be noted that this was Kim’s idea. You all should know that Kim, who loves to dance and appreciates dance, would not call herself a dancer. No, she was a jock with some sort of ball for a good portion of her life.

On the way to our first, private “Thriller” dance lesson, Kim appeared nervous. I asked her what was up. She responded by saying that this would be her first dance lesson in her life. She was anxious that she would look silly or not get it right. Keep in mind that this was a private dance lesson!

Kim did not permit herself to be a student, a beginner. She expected or wanted to be perfect without ever having taken a lesson. Now, this might sound silly, but ask yourself if Kim’s fears and desires to look good sound or feel familiar to you. Have you ever wanted to do great your first day of a new job? Have you ever tried a new recipe and wanted it to be incredibly delicious the first time? Have you ever tried a new activity such as golf, dancing, skiing or gardening, only to find yourself putting an extraordinary amount of pressure on yourself not to fail?

We are all guilty of this; if you are not, then good for you! We put pressure on ourselves, many times unknowingly, not to fail. Does that mean that we cannot make mistakes? Isn’t it true that making a mistake is a great teacher? Allowing my students to make mistakes when I was a teacher was one of the greatest tools I had in my possession to help them to learn. Failing is only a perception.

I have begun running my first life coach class recently. It’s called Caring for the Caretaker. I was genuinely excited about the notion of bringing Zumba® and life coaching together. Initially, I stated that I would not run the class unless I had a certain number of registrants. Then I became amazed at how many people asked, “So, how many people do you have registered?” Certainly, I was not alone in thinking that the number of registrants determined, on some level, the success of the class.

What’s truly fascinating is that I had never taught a life coach class before. Nor had I ever done marketing for a life coach class before. I had never rented space for a life coach class before. There were a plethora of activities that were all new to me. What’s truly fascinating is that despite all these facts, I held firm to the idea, unintentionally at times, that a certain number of registrants would make my class successful. Hence, my stress continued to climb.

The best way to advance was to plow forward with a beginner’s mind. This was my playground, and I was open to learning. Nothing would be a failure because everything would be my teacher! To be honest, maintaining this healthy approach was not always easy. As a matter of fact, there were days when I was terrified about getting it right and having the “right” number of registrants. However, now that I have lived through my first two sessions (the class is four sessions), I can honestly say that everything is a teacher — if I allow it to be.

The only way to receive lessons from life regularly is to allow yourself to make mistakes without judging yourself. Free yourself from unnecessary stress. Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes and to learn from them. Allow yourself to experience the gift of having a beginner’s mind!


Sharing Corner

I felt like this notion of developing a beginner’s mind deserved a bit more reinforcement. So, take a moment to go over these lovely quotes from some incredibly successful people who all learned to discover and to take advantage of their learning opportunities by having a beginner’s mind.

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning to sail my ship.”
~ Aeschylus (one of the Greek playwrights)

“Painful as it may be, a significant emotional event can be the catalyst for choosing a direction that serves us — and those around us — more effectively. Look for the learning.”
~ Louisa May Alcott

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
~ Thomas Alva Edison

“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”
~ Elbert Hubbard (an American writer, publisher, artist and philosopher)

“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down.”
~ Mary Pickford

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
~ Michael Jordan



Enjoy this Ralph Marston slideshow and permit yourself to experience the delight and freedom of having a beginner’s mind!


Until next time,

Safe Space Life Coaching

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