Over the past few years, I have tried to incorporate more mindfulness into my life. I have not always been successful at it, but lately I have been doing my best to find a few moments everyday to pause, look within and observe how I am feeling and what it is I need.
I am lucky to have all sorts of mentors and teachers in my life to guide me along my way. Among them is my favorite yoga teacher here in Manila, N. N is a Jivamukti yoga teacher at the studio I frequent. What I enjoy about her classes are that they always center around a theme, and she weaves in stories from her life to illuminate these themes. The theme of her classes this month has been Humility.
In class today, she emphasized the importance of having a beginner’s mind. The purest of minds, the most beginner of minds, is a child’s mind. A child hasn’t yet been conditioned or molded by years of being in the big, cruel world. N described to us the below video (a must watch):
When we were children, we were naturally inquisitive. Everything was new. Nothing was set in stone or had to be done a certain way. This boy demonstrates that – he still doesn’t understand or hasn’t been conditioned, for example, that some people consume animals and that’s just the way it is.
N encouraged us to harness our beginner’s minds. In class, she led us through poses we normally did in every class, but added a twist to each pose. The pace was slower, and we were made to see that we can do things in new, different ways, and that’s okay! It’s okay to not understand how everything will work or pan out. Instead of giving us the option of doing headstands, she instead stepped outside of yoga norm and made us do somersaults, so we could practice falling out of a headstand. Everyone in class was hesitant and scared to do somersaults, although we had all done them as children. It just felt awkward in an adult body. But we did it, and it really brought me back to my childhood, to doing flips in gymnastics for PE class. When did we learn that as adults, we shouldn’t play, we should be serious, we shouldn’t do somersaults? The practice of humility also includes the unlearning of habits and perspectives we’ve picked up over the years that don’t serve us.
I will definitely keep this in mind moving forward. I have a tendency, whenever I come face to face with a challenge, to worry that I don’t know how I will tackle it, that I can’t see the end result of me successfully conquering it. But perhaps that is okay. Perhaps that’s the whole point. With a beginner’s mind, none of that is a cause for concern. If we remain humble and see ourselves as beginners, we allow ourselves to relax a bit, breathe deeply and look at things with fresh eyes, without fear of making mistakes. We know that we are meant to learn as we go. And maybe something we wouldn’t have even thought of had we been so busy trying to act like an “expert” will show up and guide us to the right path.
The peace and humility I hope to cultivate and embody. From when I visited Siem Reap, Cambodia earlier this year.