Recently, I’ve had the unique experience of cultivating a beginner’s mindset with a skill I started learning 47 or so years ago. I signed up for a tap class a few weeks ago and didn’t realize it was an introduction to tap class open to anyone, experienced or not. My ego had a moment and then my smarter self realized that any tap class is better than no tap class! And boy was I right! There are three of us in the class, all women, and we have different levels of experience. One has had no tap at all but has always wanted to learn so our instructor has started us with the basic sounds and nomenclature. Although the steps are easy for me because of muscle memory, I find myself dissecting each element of the step with my massage therapist mindset. I appreciate my tibialis anterior as I practice simple toe taps. I appreciate my ankles and my gastroc/soleus as I balance on the balls of my feet. I notice my quadriceps, hamstrings, and ankles when I shuffle. I feel the shift of my weight from the heels to the balls of the feet when I travel forward and backward. I find myself checking my alignment in the mirror and trying to correct my imbalances. If I were in an advanced class, I would be consumed by remembering the combinations and getting the techniques down. I definitely would not have been as mindful as I am now about the instrument that is producing the sounds, my body and all that is required of my muscles to perform. I am able to appreciate much more nuance in the experience than I was able to when I was 4 and for that I am grateful.
This is the beauty of the beginner’s mind; each time you do something for the first time you are totally immersed in the present moment exploring the new experience. The conscious mind becomes the driver and the subconscious mind, aka our autopilot, takes a back seat. Our senses are more alert and we are creating new neural connections in the brain. We are literally re-wiring our brains! The neurons that fire together will wire together and this will create a path of least resistance for the future. The more you do something, the better you get at it because you are creating stronger connections in the brain. And it isn’t just about what’s happening inside your mind, there is something that you take with you when you leave a class.
There is a powerful energy that is created when two or more people come together and share a passion. I think this is the reason I love going to classes as opposed to practicing on my own. This energy is part of our life force and when we leave class and go about our day we take that energy with us and into our individual realities. I think everyone would agree that more life force energy is a good thing. We are energy bodies; we both give off and receive energy all the time. Any chance we get to create more of this energy should be taken. Do the things that you are passionate about!
So here’s the challenge: Find your beginner’s mind with something you are already accomplished at and become mindful of the experience as if it were your first time. Take the time to explore the nuances as you remember how many times it took you to master the skill. Then bring that mindfulness into your lives as you go about your daily routines.
Heather aka Indigo Girl