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You must have beginner’s mind, breathes the modern day yogini, face serene, eyes soft. Quiet chanting through the speakers and the faded scent of incense create the ambience of wisdom.

Beginner’s mind, you think, yes…

But thinking is not the same as doing.

Do you have any real clue what beginner's mind is and how to create it for yourself? Click To Tweet

I ask only because I said beginner’s mind, yes for years, unquestioning. Chanting in my head I have beginner’s mind as though that would make it true. Which is not to say the things you tell yourself don’t have an influence on your reality, but if you tell yourself something you don’t actually understand, your consciousness has nothing to shift toward.

The beginner is The Fool from the tarot deck, merrily traipsing toward the next adventure. People like to say The Fool has no plan, but how can that be true? She has a sack over her shoulder, she’s packed for the journey. Packing indicates intent, even if it’s a foolish one.

The Fool by Gregg Hierholzer

The Fool by Gregg Hierholzer

It’s not the lack of planning that’s foolish, it’s the plan itself which seems pie-in-the-sky or ill-conceived to someone who “knows better,” who’s been there, done that or read every study ever written on the subject.

The Fool is in beginner’s mind. She knows nothing about what is supposed to work and what isn’t… so she goes for it, one hundred percent.

When I was teaching second grade (many moons ago), I worked at a cool private school in Brooklyn, New York where we wrote our own curriculum. Not only were teaching degrees not necessary, they were actually discouraged. The Head of the Lower School believed teaching degrees were the death of the natural-born teacher.

Being so deemed I was given a second grade classroom and told to educate them.

The joy of sharing my loves with the littles? Amazing. And at the time (and to this day) I loved the arc of story as described by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero’s Journey. And so I decided: my second grade classroom would be studying the hero’s journey in both story and movie.

Our blackboard became a giant timeline where we mapped plots and characters. We huddled on the rug watching Willow and Star Wars. Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Snape were psycho-analyzed. The final coup d’etat: each child wrote their own hero’s journey story. The shortest was 40 pages long. Okay, 40 of those pages where the picture goes on the top and the writing on the bottom… but still: 8-year-olds happily writing 40 pages!

At a Lower School meeting toward the end of the semester, we went around the circle and each teacher spoke to what had been happening in their classroom.

We’re studying the Hero’s Journey, I began.

Multiple faces gaped at me. Dana blurted That’s too complex for second graders. They don’t have the cognitive ability to grasp those sorts of patterns.

Maybe I looked startled, maybe smug, but my answer was Really? ‘Cause they already did.

And this is beginner’s mind.

Beginners don’t know what they can’t do. They don’t know what the cognitive ability of eight-year-olds is.

Beginner's mind is more a state of the heart than status of the brain. Click To Tweet

It’s a moment when your heart is passionately wide open. You don’t have to do a risk assessment because risk is a concept of culture; it’s mental not emotional. You don’t check the studies or the surveys…

You step merrily off the cliff.

What I mean by journey is any growth process that starts with The Fool, which is why in the Tarot deck it is not even the first card but instead designated with a zero. Stepping off the cliff is the action which leads to the first step.

And I recommend doing it at least once a year.

What Fool’s journey have you been on this year? Tell me in the comments below.

Oh, and my favorite flower essence for fear of the unknown: Aspen. It’s okay to quake a little as you move closer to becoming who you are meant to be.

Big Hugs,