Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind". It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.
Recently I started going to Tai Chi classes with Red Spiral Tai Chi in Macclesfield. My first introduction to Tai Chi was with the people at Jing Massage Training, the fundamentals of Tai Chi being integral to their massage work. Since then I have wanted to do more of it but somehow I never seemed to be in the right place or at the right time. As is usual with the universe, tai chi came to me via a friend and then the space also came to be able to do it!
Three weeks ago driving to the first class I actually felt a bit nervous! A reminder of how it feels to be 'new' at something. I remember getting home from class an hour later having been blown away by the power of the breath and movement, it was also unbelievably hard. It left me with huge amounts of energy moving through my body and feeling very connected to my body.
Since that first class I have been doing a little each day, not just because it is good to get up in the morning and ease into the day with some simple movement, but because I can feel the positive effect that it is having on my body and mind. It is also the challenge of learning something new and being able to take a series of movements and flow them together with the power of the breath. Practicing Tai Chi reminds me of when I first tried to do Vinyasa Flow - at the start it was certainly not flowing!
Yesterday, having learnt maybe less than a quarter of the 15 step 'form' we are working on we proceeded to learn three new steps. All of a sudden I appeared to have lost the ability to move my legs, arms and hands - they were not going were I wanted them to.......wait Richard had his hand facing that way and my hand wanted to go the other way, and...........oh, why won't my left foot step where it needs too, and........ah, my thighs are burning, and suddenly looking up at myself in the mirror I don't appear to have ended up the right place!! What a shocker to suddenly be plunged into a space where I did not have control of my body as I wanted to, where I was truly the beginner again.
I came out of class feeling like it wasn't just my body that had had a workout, my mind to had been asked to stretch itself. I am a 'beginner' with a beginner's mind. I wasn't able to follow the movements, I wasn't able to flow and I had to honor the fact that it may will take me many hours of practice to understand those new movements and integrate them into my body.