"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few" - Shunryu Suzuki
What is a beginner's mind?
A beginner's mind is one that is open, eager to learn and free from preconceptions. It is a mind that is innocent, fearless, as if starting all over again with a clean slate. It is a mind that is curious and totally available for the moment. In that moment, a beginner's mind sees life in its full richness.
In contrast, an expert's mind is one that is fixed and restricted to possibilities. It is quick to recall from memories and experiences, and full of expectations. It is fearful of unmet expectations and perceived errors. An expert's mind is full of mental habits, tendencies and inclinations.
The best example of a beginner's mind is that of a child. Most of us are familiar with the sight of a young toddler exploring his surrounding and experimenting with toys with awe and wonder, and full of curiosity or a 5 year old looking on with amazement in his eyes at a plane taking off at the airport.
So, if you have a mind that is just like a child - curious, eager to learn, fearless and filled with amazement at the task at hand, then you can be said to have the beginner's mind. This sort of mind is open, relaxed and ready to absorb information without any preconceived ideas or expectations.
Here are some suggestions on how you can cultivate a beginner's mind.
1. Open up your mind to all possibilities
The first thing to do is to allow your mind to be open to all possibilities. For those who are quick to judge and have preconceived ideas, it becomes important to be very mindful of this habit and to stop it immediately. Be mindful of your habitual mind - the tendency to go into automated mode.
2. Challenged all preconceived notions, beliefs, concepts
All our previous ideas, beliefs and concepts may have been useful to us in the past, but the present conditions may make them unsuitable or even irrelevant. Therefore, scrutinize each and every one of them with care. Challenge their relevance. If they are found to fall short, discard them. Many people with fixed mind refuse to re-examine and challenge their beliefs, and this is one of the biggest downfall for most people
3. Embrace the not-knowing mindset - start with an empty, clean slate
Instead of dragging along old beliefs and ideas, it is best to begin each task with an empty, clean slate. Start every new task with a not-knowing mindset, just like a child beginning to explore his new world or toy. Look from all angles. Explore all possibilities. Often you may be rewarded with a new idea or perspective that could lead to dramatic changes or effects.