In my yoga practice, the instructors often talk about having the beginner’s mind.  “Begin your practice today as if for the first time,” they say.  And, “Your body is never at the same place.  Don’t judge where you are today based on where you were a few years ago or where you want to be.”

I remember reading about the beginner’s mind, for the first time, while reading a book by Thomas Merton.  He wrote, “One cannot begin to face the real difficulties of the life of prayer and meditation unless one is first perfectly content to be a beginner and really experience himself as one who knows little or nothing, and has a desperate need to learn the bare rudiments.”   Merton also acknowledges that sustaining the beginner’s mind is not easy.  “We do not want to be beginners.  But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners, all our life!”[1]

Jesus taught his disciples to cultivate the beginner’s mind when he said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven.”

2 Then he called a little child over to sit among the disciples, 3 and said, “I assure you that if you don’t turn your lives around and become like this little child, you will definitely not enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Those who humble themselves like this little child will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  (Matthew 18, Common English Bible)

  • When was the last time you felt like a complete beginner?   Was it during your first day on the job or, maybe, while assembling new shelves from IKEA?
  • Reflect upon the significance of humility and patience in your life?  Do you value humility and patience?   If so, how do you cultivate humility?  Patience?
  • While exercising or working can you be more mindful of what’s happening in your body, rather than bringing assumptions and expectations that may cause injury?

[1] Thomas Merton, The Climate of Monastic Prayer (1969; repr., Contemplative Prayer, New York: Image, Doubleday, 1996), 37.

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