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The Power of a Beginner's Mind

Picture this: A substitute teacher wearing a kimono and speaking Japanese to inner city students. Surprising? That was exactly the intention of Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu as he attempted to cultivate a "beginners mind" in his students. He asserts that the moment the unexpected is encountered, mindfulness begins without training. The attention is completely focused on the unknown, senses alert in the uncertainty of the moment, and the mind open. He says of the experience of teaching mindfulness to students, "I also want students to experience vulnerability because I believe that it is a key to education as a lifelong commitment to self-reflection rather than a detached mastery of a finite body of knowledge. Vulnerability means appreciating mystery as much as mastery, and being comfortable with not-knowing, ambiguity, uncertainty, and complexity, cultivating awe and wonder that deepen our knowledge." Read on to understand how allowing for the unexpected can foster a beginner's mind in oneself.

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