Beginner’s Mind

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Today in yoga class, one of my beautiful teacher’s, Jeanine, reminded us of our Beginner’s Mindset. The idea of Beginner’s Mind asks that you come to your yoga mat with the mindset as if it were your first day, your first yoga class, like you are new to practice. I am familiar with this idea, and struggled with it: I totally didn’t get it- I was like ‘”WHY on Earth would I WANT to put myself back into those days of intense discomfort, monkey-mindedness, and constant frustration that I couldn’t do what amazing physical feats that Miss Lady Thang was rocking out over there all in her Prana outfitted glory??” I mean, I’ve worked hard (and I continue to!) to keep my mind on my own practice, approach it with a “Just Be” kind of attitude, leave the competition (with myself and others) at the door, let my mind rest at ease and just BREATHE and flow.

Of course, through years of regular yoga practice it becomes clear to me that with regular practice of anything we can tend to start to take ourselves pretty seriously. We perhaps rush, or become frustrated when our practice doesn’t go as “well” as planned, or set our expectations too high. Maybe we get all aggro over the littlest things, like when our arms flake out by that 5th vinyasa, or your hamstrings are uber tight leaving your freewheelin’ heels to scrape the back wall. Maybe you fall over on your face while trying to get into full vasistasana, even though you nailed it last week. Ego is a funny thing.

Last night we had some friends over for dinner, they are visiting for the Holidays and are expecting their first baby in the Summer. They’ve been married about 2 years, and seem to be loving it and very happy. They’re all aglow with baby love. Throughout the evening my husband and I held our own maintaining appearance of a blissed out couple; not talking over one another, sweetly delegating hosting duties and care of our son and pets back and forth… It was a nice evening, and rare.

When our guests were putting on their coats to leave, they saw a photo taken on our wedding day of David and I walking back down the aisle, newly married. “You guys still look the same!” our friend says… I couldn’t help but to smirk and snort with derision internally. “Oh yeh” I think, “We’re just as happy today as we were there… suuuuurrrre”. I remembered back to that moment, gleefully surprising my hubby by having our wedding pianist enthusiastically play Linus and Lucy, by Vince Guaraldi; who could resist grinning and dancing down the gravel walk on our beautiful marital grounds? Not me. I was geeked! I was in love, married. A newlywed bride. A beginner. It seems so long ago, and so much has changed. Dave and I fly past eachother in the waking hours, share little as we’re too tired for eachother often enough, and snap at one another over many small issues. We have become strangers.

Back in Jeanine’s morning class, I am working to keep it light and airy in mind and movement. I go within, but not so much that I have tuned out the rest of the class, and I laugh when I fall out of vasistasana. I eek out nooks and crannies in my body with exploratory adjustments and alignment of breath. I spread my fingers and palms on my mat and appreciate it’s knobby comfort. I have fun.

Particularly when I become aware that for the first time in perhaps 6 years, I hear the quiet twinkling notes of Linus and Lucy pouring out of the yoga studio’s speakers. I start to beam as we melt forward into our standing forward fold, and maintain the grin as we reach out and up to the ceiling, and I playfully dip a little deeper backwards. The Universe reaches out in ways to communicate messages and I’d like to think I can be a good listener.

Maybe this Beginner’s Mind stuff is pretty juicy after all.

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