I enjoy the experience of taking photographs It's both a mindful and fun activity. Yet sometimes I feel stilted; like I'm taking the same photos of the same subjects. This kind of stuck-ness happens not only in photography, but in many facets of life (e.g., work, cooking, thinking, relationships, identity). Life is filled with ruts, and it's also filled with new paths.
The term "Beginner's Mind" comes from Zen Buddhism. Beginner's mind is spacious and fresh. No matter what the subject matter (no matter how complex or how routine), beginner's mind looks with a fresh set of eyes; with an openness to new experience, new feeling, new perspective.
Sometimes it's scary to look at something anew. Old ruts can create suffering, yet they also feel familiar. And familiarity often trumps new experience, because of this underlying fear. What if I make a mistake? What if I've been wrong in the past? What if people don't like me anymore? What if I take a risk and then people laugh?
Beginner's mind asks us to strip away these old stories and old fears. Asks us to look at the world without the old tapes and baggage. What do we see? Of what do we get the smallest glimpse? And does that new look allow for some loosening? Some freedom?
Perhaps we can shed a box we've put around ourselves or around another person. Maybe I don't have to work this weekend--perhaps I can rearrange and re-envision (and spend more quality time with myself and my family). Maybe I don't have to say "yes" when I feel like saying "no" (yet, I can say "no" with an open heart). Maybe I don't have to play a particular role with my family, friends, or co-workers. Maybe I can see the perspective--some piece of the story--of someone with whom I find difficult.
This morning, I walked around our house with photographer's beginner-mind. I looked around each room, laid on the floor, and saw from new angles. I looked more closely at objects that I have long taken for granted. I saw light, pattern, texture, and life. I re-introduced myself to my lovely house.
And in the process, I accessed a fresh part of myself: