“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” Shunryu Suzuki, Zen teacher
You’ve probably heard this quote before. It reminds me that with each client, each session, I benefit from bringing beginner’s mind rather than my “expert” consultant mind. Some days are easier than others. Some days it’s easier to hide behind my expert self, the one who’s conducted thousands of hours in client sessions over two decades, because therein lies a protective distance. I don’t have to be vulnerable. I can sit behind my shield of knowledge and experience.
Yet, when I step into the muck of it all – and yes, sometimes sessions are mucky – getting out of my own way, setting aside preconceived ideas, that’s when the magic happens. There was magic this week, oh the joy! Something naturally evolved with a client, an improvisation if you will, and I found myself facilitating something experiential in a brand new way. Our collaboration opened up something for Mae* and she stepped boldly forward into a fresh experience. I hadn’t anticipated she would. I’m pretty sure she hadn’t anticipated having the capacity to do so either. One of those goose-bump moments when I felt affirmed in the work I do, deeply blessed to routinely facilitate people coming up against their comfort zones and stepping beyond.
Here’s what strikes me. Mae is an expert on Mae. She knows herself well. She can predict how she’s likely to react in most situations, is familiar with her triggers, the people who rile her, the people who soothe her, comforting activities and challenging ones. We both found a way to step into no-man’s land beyond all that’s familiar. Ah, beginner’s mind. And then I happened to call it her “field of possibility, field of dreams” and watched as her eyes widened in astonishment. How could I have known Field of Dreams is her all-time favourite movie, symbolic of relentless pursuit based on unwavering faith? (It is for me too). In that creative space of not-knowing – beginner’s mind – had I accessed intuition, universal consciousness or simply made a lucky guess? Perhaps it was serendipity.
I’ll leave you with a question – when do you allow yourself beginner’s mind?
And if you’d like help exploring those edges, be contact me.
*not her real name