Yoga and the Beginner's Mind (初心)

In making connections with some of the ideas mentioned in yoga practice, I’ve found similarities in the Japanese / Samurai culture.

Each of us enter the world of yoga with varied life experiences, beliefs and perceptions. We often start a new experience with a half-cup mentality. Because of this, our body and mind sometimes resist the input of new knowledge and experiences. It is hence, important to first ’empty our teacup’; our mind, our ego, etc. before taking in new knowledge. This is Shoshin (初心) or the Beginner’s Mind, found in Zen and Japanese martial arts.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
~ Shunryu Suzuki, Zen teacher in his book, ‘Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind’.

By emptying our teacup, it allows us to remain open to receive new knowledge. This is an extremely difficult start as we sometimes resist in a very unconscious manner. As we heighten our mental and physical awareness, we get closer to achieving this.

I’ve found that personal ego and false humility as two major setback to personal learning for many. It prevents one from maintaining an open mindset to acknowledge our own weaknesses and truly learn from others.

I try to remind myself daily to:

– question with an inquisitive mind

– challenge no one but myself

– remain grounded and humble in my learning journey

– review my basics to bring new awareness at different stages of my training; advanced techniques are simply basics applied properly

So have you emptied your cup yet?

Aylwin Tan (200hr YTT, July 2017)

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