Continuing Without Attachment
Today we begin month two of 108 days. A solid month of practice is behind us. We are feeling good about where we are, and if we believe it only takes 27 days to create a habit, some of us are already there. Regardless of where we are, we continue to place focus on making our meditation practice a priority. Good feelings abound.
For a long time I misunderstood Beginner's Mind. It was hard to trust that being a novice was somehow better than being one who had attained mastery. We've been taught that doing anything poorly in front of others should be a source of embarassment. We've been taught to be good, and to win, and to feel good about it. We've been taught to avoid failure... and when we do fail, we've been taught to feel bad about it. So we learn to embrace activities we know we can excel in and shy away from taking risks or trying things we might look utterly foolish attempting. This is how we live until we seek another way.
So why embrace Beginner's Mind?
When you have never done something, you don't know anything about how it is done. You haven't had an opportunity to build up a personal library of mental strategies and associations about the best or worst approaches. You haven't had an opportunity to develop a strong belief system around it or to make it (or its absence) mean anything.
After sitting daily for this past month, I've realized something about myself and my approach to meditation practice over the years. I've recognized that while I have never done my practice with a daily consistency, I did develop a strong belief system about meditation. I've seen myself have all these ideas about what makes a particular sitting good or bad, and making the sitting or not sitting mean something good or bad about me. I'd brought my strategizing, opinionated mind into my practice at the onset, and that strategizing, opinionated mind has been running the show ever since.
Beginner's mind is absent all of this. Beginner's mind is fresh, and open, and expansive.
In his classic work Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, Shunryu Suzuki writes:
...we should forget, day by day, what we have done; this is true non-attachment
So we continue sitting. But we begin each practice day as if we've been reborn. And though we may feel proud of where we are because we've broken through resistance, we approach our chairs and cushions each day understanding that this moment is the one that matters. We don't "have" our tallies. We just have now.