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  • Rhodri Jones

Beginner's Mind

'Knowledge acts as a bridge across the chasm between self and reality. But it cannot bring the two together'

Shiv Sengupta


A growth mindset seems all the rage nowadays.

You can't ever remain fixed though. You are changing everyday, whether you consciously desire to or not.

You could be growing wildly in a direction that doesn't serve you well. When you are lost on a path we trace our route back to see where we took the wrong turn.

But in life we sometimes plod along until we lose sight of where we are

That's where someone can help you discover, a different path, a different way.

Talking about paths, is their actually a path at all? Is there a journey?

Isn't that just a story we just tell ourselves?

It feels the same because you have been hiking along the same one all your life, but we recreate our reality moment by moment through the stories we tell ourselves and then piece it all together in to one neat storyline. The pathless way is a more apt term maybe.

There is nothing wrong with standing still now and again anyway and simply taking in the view.

The question is are you living on autopilot or not?


It can be helpful to adopt a beginners mind, What does that involve? It means dropping your expectations and preconceived ideas about something, and seeing things with an open mind, fresh eyes, just like a beginner. If you’ve ever learned something new, you can remember what that’s like: you’re probably confused, because you don’t know how to do whatever you’re learning, but you’re also looking at everything as if it’s brand new, perhaps with curiosity and wonder. Not being too tied to all the knowledge that you have accumulated over the years, and your personal experiences, that you cling on to and which can blind you to the truth.

That’s beginner’s mind. Like children have before they begin labelling everything; building up the layers, start feeling separate from the world and live in from their conditioning.


We are quick to look for the latest science for answers in life but don't be so quick disregard your first person experience. I've read plenty of neuroscience, psychology, and philosophical books. All the knowledge and science in the world though can never explain the true essence of being you.

What if you started treating those thoughts in your head like you would with your senses? Most of the thoughts you have you are not consciously creating so why chase every one?

It's like beating yourself up by saying

'Why did I see that?'

'Why did I smell that'

'Why did I hear that'?

It's crazy right? Why should your thoughts be looked at any differently?

Yeah of course you can consciously decide whether to follow a thought or not.

The same as you can consciously decide what to look at, smell and touch, but you are not in control of all of it. Do you create the thoughts and desires in the first place?

Sit down for half and hour and just watch your thoughts and see what desires come up. Most of them seem like they are popping up from nowhere, and they soon go away on your own. That is unless you are chasing them and adding endless layers to them, but you don't control that tendency in yourself too. Give yourself a break.

There is so much out there that is outside of your control.

Taking full responsibility for how you respond to things is.

Stuff still comes up with me. That is part of being human. Just take responsibility for it and accept it. Or do you find yourself blaming everything and everyone around you for where you are and what happens to you?


What is the background to those thoughts?

For athletes who have experienced being in a state of flow, or in the zone, they will tune into this. You feel at one with the sports you are playing. Like the performance is flowing through you. Your thinking mind is quietened and all your senses are heightened.

It was a state I experienced time and time again, and at times during my career my thinking mind just got in the way and was a barrier to performance on and off the pitch.

There is nothing wrong with thinking and it can be useful at times.

You can never turn that thinking mind off, but you can loosen it's grip on you, and start to use it, rather than it use you.


You can experience a different kind of flow in everyday life too.

All our hang ups and issues are resisting what is now.

If only I hadn't done that...

I'll only be ok when...

What's stopping you being ok as you are firstly, while trying to change your situation or fulfill your potential, or doing whatever you are pulled to do.

How do you know when you have reached the best version of you or fulfilled your potential anyway?!

That's what going with the flow means.

Letting you arrow glide with no specific end point in sight.


If you constantly fill your life with distractions you will remain the same and of course there is nothing wrong with doing this. There is no judgement here. Life doesn't care if you change or not. It all depends on what you are seeking in life. If you love being distracted then crack on, but if you feel unsettled and not at ease then it may be an idea to ask yourself why.


I was tired, empty and exhausted from focusing and obsessing purely on the foreground in the life so I started tuning in to the background that is ever present. Meditation can help you tune into it but it's not essential and you don't need to sit down on a cushion to do it. I'm on about living meditatively where you are really feeling into every little thing you do in the world unfiltered without being too self-conscious,

You can do anything meditatively. Take the dog for a walk meditatively. Read meditatively. Listen to music meditatively. You can even argue with the partner meditatively too! You can be angry consciously where you are still in control of your anger, rather than it being in control of you. You can be swept away by the flow of the thinking mind and it's constant conveyor belt of petty little thoughts that muddy the waters.

You can spend all your time living in the past which doesn't exist and a future that only ever exists here and now.


I'm pretty pragmatic and don't regard myself as religious or spiritual in any sense but I am curious and have explored what many different religions and philosophies point out myself (and even psychology is now exploring) and have found that when I let go and tune into the background more life feels different and opens up and you I can't ever ever truly explain why.

I get out of my own way in my performance in all areas of my life - compared to my old approach which was to try and battle my mind, to try and control everything and just focus on the foreground of my experience rather than widen my gaze a little and adopt an attitude of unknowing. You can't discard the foreground of life completely. We all need labels, beliefs and thoughts to survive in the world, but their spell on you dissolves a bit that's all


The foreground I'm talking about is your ego which I describe as the story of you that you will do everything to protect. The ego will constantly pull you to focus on the foreground and exclude the background.

It does this as a way of surviving in the world but this doesn't always equate with thriving. How about learning to embrace the foreground and also the background of your experience. Switching gears between that narrow focus that comes from doing and achieving and that wider focus that comes from resting, letting go and being.

This hasn't come easy to me as my nature has been conditioned to achieve

You won't lose that drive, that is part of who you are.

You can just get different sense of perspective to it that is all.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with ego. I'm not on about getting rid of it, you may find if you try and do that it comes back kicking and screaming. It's just leading purely from ego can narrow your experience of life.


A famous sculptor was once asked about how he approached his work and his response was

"I just chip away the parts of the block marble that are not needed'

We are so quick to add more to our lives, but maybe it's an idea firstly to strip away those misguided ideas and parts of yourself that doesn't serve you well anymore but are driving your behaviour moment by moment.

How about playing the game of life from that position before automatically adding more to that block of marble

Stillness is often key. This doesn't mean retreating to a quiet place. You can be still in the eye of the storm. The sounds of the thunder emerge from the silence.


"Know Thyself" is definition that stems from ancient Greek times.

This doesn't mean just reeling out your autobiographical story.

Who are you underneath all of that at source? No self help book can answer that for you.

Those self help books usually stir up a feeling that you are lacking and always missing something

What self are you trying to help anyway?

I'm all for learning new things but I also discard more books than I keep.

How about stripping away those parts of you that are preventing you being ok as you are and holding you back from expressing yourself fully in every area of your life and performing freely at all times.

Maybe life is ultimately about being the fullest version of you, rather than the best.



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