It was the first day of yoga teacher training when my egoic dismantling commenced and my truth began to shine. For me, it all boils down to a combination of words that are etched deeply into the first page of my yoga notebook.
“I don’t know” is the highest state of intelligence.
My teacher was introducing the concept of a beginner’s mind. A concept that would be key for our success in the training, future as teachers and apparently, life in general but I was totally confused by these words. This concept made no sense to me. To admit that you didn’t know, was to say that you didn’t know!?!? No, thank you. I’ll just keep it to the few subjects that I know very well and all will remain well in my world. And by the way, when I finish this yoga training I’m going to be the best yoga teacher ever.
This mindset, known as the expert, is the exact opposite of a beginner’s mind. It is filled with expectation and pressure. A mind where someone (me) is right and someone else (I’ve never really cared who) is wrong. A mind full of judgment and attachment. A mind more prison-like than free. A mind that, up until that moment, I had snuggled with for many, many years. I thought it was my friend and key to success in life. I worked hard to fine-tune it and shared as much of it as possible, almost always unsolicited, with everyone in my life. Suffice it to say, that statement unleashed the biggest growth spurt of my life and throughout the 12-day intensive training, my big ego quickly became vulnerable.
My instructor dropped another bomb when he said, “It takes no effort to be you”. It was at that moment that I realized how my efforts to be an expert were nothing shy of exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to always have the last laugh, the final word, be right and in control of any given situation. I recall specific times when I fought for something that I knew was wrong but admitting the truth seemed far more painful than keeping up the fight. But something was clicking now, something new was happening to me and I was ready to let it all go. A task much easier to say than do but it was happening, I could feel something was changing within me and yoga was my vehicle. I buckled down and held on for dear life. My ego fought hard and it was quite uncomfortable at times but I have stayed strong on my mission to move away from my expert and back into my beginner. The honest, open-minded, love-filled being that I am, that we all are at the core of our being. Embracing our perfect imperfections and believing that we are worthy exactly the way we are, right now, at this moment.
It’s been a tough road and only those who have traveled it can understand the absolute pain of crushing a well oiled expert mind but I believe that I have made it over the hump. Since that first day of training, I have learned to accept and practice this idea of a beginners mind. Through my meditation practice, being out of my comfort zone and hanging out vulnerable to the world I have learned to let go of having to be right, having to be perfect. Wait for it….
Having to be the best.
For a beginner, everything is unknown so there is no need to be right and someone else to be wrong. A beginner doesn’t have to win and they are always open to learning. This is what the world needs. More open minds and open hearts. More authenticity and willingness to ask for help without feeling defeated. It’s a mindset that can be adopted in an instant, you just need to make the choice. You can try it out right now, with whatever you are doing. See it with a new set of eyes, detach from the outcome, the pressure of your expectation and plan of how things should go. Be open to the possibility that you may not know everything on the subject or task at hand. Stay in each moment and witness the unfolding of the experience without attachment to a planned outcome. Seek comfort in knowing the benefit will be far greater and more freeing than anything your inner expert can promise. In the end, you will emerge a more knowledgeable being than you ever imagined.
Wow! What a simple, yet profound concept. I’m going to work on downsizing my ego and have a beginner’s mindset. I am excited to see everything with a new perspective.