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Beginner's Mind

You might have had similar experiences in life . . . you feel alive and excited about a new "something" or "someone." You land the job and career path you've always wanted. You move to the place you've dreamed about. You start school (again). Your soul mate appears. Your world is vibrant and you can't wait to get up in the morning!

Over time, life becomes routine. Weeks, months or even years later, you might ask yourself, "why did I choose this path or this person?"

As stated in The Fifth Agreement by Don Miguel Ruiz and his son Don Jose ". . . all humans live in their own world, in their own movie, in their own dream." It is our personal experience and perception of life that matters.

So how do we get back to a fresh start?

The meaning of Shoshin in Zen Buddhism is to have an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceived notions.

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities,
but in the expert's there are few.

 - Shunryu Suzuki (1905-1971)

We follow the practice of Beginner’s Mind in Nia by paying attention to body sensation and what is, in this moment. No matter how many years of experience dancing or teaching, we can come back to the basics.

This past summer, Debbie Rosas led a "Festival of Nia" in New Jersey (video above).  We were doing a simple movement together and as I let myself go fully into the motion, tears rolled down my face. THIS was the sensation and feeling that attracted me to Nia in the first place. I found Beginner’s Mind in that moment, being open to the experience as if it was my first class.
So how can we experience Beginner’s Mind more often?

Be like a child, as if you're seeing someone or doing something for the very first time:

  • Look at the trees, the sky, and the gift of colors on your drive to work or to school.
  • Notice the unique qualities in people's faces on the bus or train ride.
  • Use the computer or phone to share your words with impeccability.
  • Treat clients as if you're hearing them for the first time, without judgment.
  • Acknowledge "Namaste" in your partner, spouse, coworker and friend.

Imagine many more possibilities to experience little moments as breaths of fresh air. Then, each day becomes a way to Begin again.

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Choose Love.

When I was growing up I was told that giving to others was the greatest sign of Love. I was told it was good to sacrifice my comfort to help others. If I was to do something good for me first, that was considered selfish.

I suppose the airlines had not yet talked about putting the oxygen mask on yourself first to help the person next to you!

I am still learning to make choices of love for myself.


How do I know when the choice is coming from love?

  • my chest expands
  • I breathe easily
  • I smile
  • my spine lengthens

There is lightness in my being, I feel confident, and have a sense, "this is for me." In plain speak, I feel good!

Choices might be as simple as taking time for a hot bath, choosing a snack in the fridge or sitting down to read a book. More complex choices to stay or not stay in a relationship, change careers or move across the world may not be as easy to discern. These choices might be more clear by "tuning into" your body over a period of time.

Another sign of a love choice is that the process goes smoothly. That workshop might have one more spot available, a gift of money appears, or there are flight miles to spare. There are few or no obstacles on the path.

I am thankful for my study and practice of Nia and Polarity Therapy for teaching me how to listen to my body, and how to connect both my mind and body in making choices out of love for myself. When I do it this way, other people tend to benefit.

You can make a love choice right now. Think of a decision you need to make today. It could be as simple as what to do for dinner. Think about each choice then pause, close your eyes, and notice . . . your breathing (shallow or full),  notice your forehead, jaw and face, neck, shoulders and back as you consider each choice. Do you feel tense, tight and heavy, or light, relaxed and expansive? Are you at ease?

Make at least one love choice for yourself today and share your experience below!

If you are in pain, consider a love choice through the upcoming Transforming Chronic Pain Program at a special introductory rate.