My Enlightened Delights

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To enjoy good health,
to bring true happiness to one’s family,
to bring peace to all,
one must first discipline and control one’s own mind.
If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment,
and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him.
— Buddha

Beginner's Mind

 
 
 

 
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the experts there are few"
                               - Zen Master Suzuki Roshi (Mindfulness on the Go)
 

I picked up these little books at Powell's Books when my boyfriend and I visited Portland in February. I included Mindfulness on the Go in my travel meditation kit, and I highly recommend them to anyone looking for some great mindfulness challenges that you can really do anywhere.

The first of 25 exercises outlined in this book has you use your non dominant hand to perform everyday tasks like eating or brushing your teeth or hair. Take it a step further: use chopsticks or write with your non dominant hand. 

I love this challenge because in high school, I got it in my head that I wanted to be ambidextrous. I bought a fancy children's notebook with traceable/indented letters and double lined rows and practiced a couple times per week. I never mastered it, but if I really needed to write with my left hand I could. I expanded my left handed experiment to more activities; I even tried bowling with my left hand and surprised myself by bowling a Turkey!

The idea is for this exercise is to return to a beginner's mind. We must always allow ourselves to be a beginner, especially when we're trying new things. In our world of instant satisfaction, we are often discouraged when something doesn't happen right away. This discouragement can often stop us from progressing because we can't endure being uncomfortable while we learn something new and improve our skill.

Your dominant hand has been in charge for your whole life, it has decades of experience while your non dominant hand only has a few years of experience. We are going to be uncomfortable, we are going to be clumsy and feel awkward like we did learning to feed ourselves as a child. You dominant hand may even try to take back control, but this vulnerability is important because it builds awareness and compassion for others who may have these struggles on a daily basis.

This may seem like a hard challenge to start with because we subconsciously allow our dominant hand to take the lead. But what better way to develop that beginner mind than returning to beginner struggles. You can set up reminders for yourself to help remind you to use your non dominant hand such as post its with the word "left" (if you're right handed) or sticking a band aid on your dominant hand to remind you to use the other hand.

Namaste!