“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but it the expert’s there are few.”
Zen Master Suzuki Roshi
As I reflect on the New Year, I find myself thinking about the concept from Buddhism “Beginners Mind.” The concept is to put aside old ideas and beliefs and see things as if for the first time. It is about opening up your mind to new possibilities rather than being trapped by old messages and belief systems that no longer serve us. This frame of mind allows us to be open, flexible and non judgmental of ourselves and others and remain teachable.
Often we create New Year’s resolutions as intentions or goals that we want to achieve in the New Year. We take an inventory of the previous year and decide what we would like to improve upon or change whether it is to lose weight, go back to school, become more charitable, re-examine a relationship, quit a job, start a business and the list goes on. That in and of itself is fine, but it becomes a problem when we begin to judge ourselves as bad-good, right-wrong, should-shouldn’t because we did or didn’t do something the previous year. Our judgmental mind takes over and suddenly our self esteem has taken a dip.
What I suggest you do this year when deciding upon your New Year’s resolutions is to make them with profound compassion for yourself and with a beginner’s mind. In other words, be aware and acknowledge your intentions, but don’t get stuck in them. Look at these new goals like a child starting school for the very first time with excitement and anticipation of what is to come and all the possibilities that await you. Don’t criticize yourself for what you haven’t accomplished or that you can’t do something in the New Year, but instead, recognize these opinions are just products of your mind and are not necessarily based on fact. If you chose to make your resolutions absolute without any flexibility or tell yourself you can’t do something, you stifle the process of learning and growing. There may be some other lesson or wisdom that needs to be discovered and can’t be with a judgmental or negative mindset.
Create a gentler space between you and what your old mind is telling you. Take a “I don’t know stance.” In other words, if “I don’t know,” anything and everything is possible in the New Year. All we know are our past impressions of events or circumstance that happened once upon a time. It keeps us out of the present and instead living in the past or future, not allowing new insights to emerge. In beginner’s mind there is no thought “I have attained or not attained something.” Instead we embark on attaining an empty mind that is ready for anything and open to everything allowing us to live completely in the present. There are many goals I set out to achieve last year that were not attained, but I experienced so many more un-expected situations and events that I could not have dreamed of happening. I experienced being on radio, on television, and became a contributing author of a book. However, there were times when I built expectations around those un-foreseen events, and most of the time when those expectations were not met; I caused myself unnecessary anxiety and fear for myself.. So this year I intend on not letting go of my New Year’s Resolution but rather experiencing them with more awareness and purpose, non- judgmentally and in the sacred moment as it unfolds.
"Dear God, please set aside everything I think I know so I may have an open mind and a new experience. Please help me see the Truth. Amen."
The Set Aside Prayer
Sherry is a psychotherapist and life coach. Recently she aired on Celebrity Rehab 2 on VH1 with Dr. Drew. She specializes in addictions, eating disorders, depression, anxiety, single parenting, divorce, and helping her clients find their life purpose. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her co-authored book the "Conscious Entrepreuner" can be purchased at www.sgabatherapy.com