Beginner’s mind is a state of consciousness in which the mind is completely open, without any preconceptions about people, events, surroundings, or anything else. It is an incredible state of novelty, awe, and curiosity.
Entering the state of beginner’s mind is one of the cornerstones in several spiritual traditions, especially in Zen Buddhism. However, it is not important for religion only; it is one of the key practices for spiritual development and personal growth in general, even for some atheistic or agnostic practitioners. Similar to mindfulness, beginner’s mind brings about deep inner peace; it opens up the sacred heart and its ability for love and compassion; it activates creativity and unveils numerous hidden gifts.
How do we grow beginner’s mind and make it take deep roots in our everyday life? Simply, we need to learn how to enter this state of consciousness first and to practice it persistently.
Beginner’s mind brings about deep inner peace; it opens up the sacred heart and its ability for love and compassion; it activates creativity and unveils numerous hidden gifts.
Typically, the practitioner should enter the present moment. They have to intentionally put aside all preconceptions about the current situation; to pretend that they know virtually nothing about it; to feel genuine curiosity; to willingly observe everything as they are seeing it for the first time in their life.
Nevertheless, for some people, this practice can be insufficient for developing a strong and enduring foundation for a pure, innocent state of mind. That's why everyday meditation sessions are critical. And I am going to introduce you here to a completely new kind of meditation that will not only take you into the state of beginner’s mind but will also, if practiced steadily, help you expand your consciousness in many ways.
We will name it ‘Alien Meditation,’ because you will first imagine yourself as an extraterrestrial being in an alien environment, so that your real human body and everyday surrounding seem strange and new, at least for a while.
Practicing this meditation will enable you to delve deeply into the profound state of beginner’s mind, while your consciousness and creativity will be expanding tremendously.
Practicing this meditation will enable you to delve deeply into the profound state of beginner’s mind, while your consciousness and creativity will be expanding tremendously.
We are living in a time of gadgets. Smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV, smart watches, and many other “smart” things are indisputably helpful in many tasks we are facing every day. However, all these gadgets are, at the same time, great soakers of our attention and energy, often being extremely addictive.
To many of us, building the daily habit of meditation sittings is a challenging task. Even if we establish it, we might be often distracted by many external influences, including electronic devices.
When we are watching something on the device’s display, we are in fact totally immersed in that content. Our attention is entirely absorbed by the games, movies, music, images, or anything else emerging from that shiny rectangle. Our life energy is drained, and we often feel exhausted after a few hours of such an activity.
And much of our free time we spend immersed in endless contents these devices offer. We have become the society of gadget-addicts.
Wouldn't be awesome if we could reverse this situation somehow? Is it possible to actually transform all these gadgets into gateways to conscious living? Of course it is.
Is it possible to actually transform all these gadgets into gateways to conscious living? Of course it is.
One of the ways to turn this immersing habit into a portal to inner freedom is this meditation. Here are the steps you may follow:
Before you begin, it is necessary to become familiar with the terms “physical attention” and “mental attention.”
By physical attention, we mean to direct our eyes toward something in front of us.
On the other hand, mental attention implies an intense awareness of something, which means focusing our mind on that (regardless of our eyes’ direction).
1. Focusing on the phone’s frame
You can begin this meditation in whatever position or situation you find yourself in. Whether you are sitting, lying down, or standing, you can do this brief exercise, as long as you hold the phone or some other device in your hand.
First, while still looking at the phone’s screen, become aware of its frame or bezels. Extend your mental attention on the frame. Remember, your eyes are physically still directed toward the center of the device’s display, while you are becoming more aware of the device’s edges.
If a thought or emotion arises, just accept it. If you find a related tension in your body – accept that as well, and return to meditation.
2. Sensing the phone
Now, while still being aware of the phone’s edges, become aware of the gadget as a whole. As you are holding it, feel its surface and weight.
So, your mental attention should now encompass the phone’s display, the edges, and your senses of its surface and weight. All the while, keep your physical attention on the screen.
We all want to be happy and to avoid suffering. These are the two tendencies that characterize the entire living world. Every life form will strive to satisfy its needs and thus be content, but also to avoid any form of suffering.
Although being self-aware and highly intelligent, we humans are also unable to avoid pain. Whether it be physical or emotional, pain is inevitable even to the most mature or spiritually developed people.
However, Buddhism claims that one can become entirely free from suffering. That final stage of human existence is being called Nirvana, or Enlightenment. It is not our topic here, at least directly. Still, if we cannot completely transcend suffering, at least we can diminish it.
I will describe here instructions for dealing with various difficulties. These guidelines are based on three stages related to the hardship:
Note that it’s essential for your inner work to accurately recognize at which stage you are at that point in time.
Here are the three-stage instructions:
1. Prevention - the crucial stage
In your normal, everyday life conditions, in which you don’t feel any pain or suffering, you must take some time for the work on yourself. It is not only the work on preventing the hardships; it is rather the work for achieving inner transformation in a positive sense.
In other words, we must face the negativities of our life, but it is not good to focus on them too often and too much. We could define it only as a preventive work, but that would imply avoiding something negative. Instead, to be more aimed at a positive transformation, we will also call it the happiness work.
It should include:
We must face the negativities of our life, but it is not good to focus on them too often and too much.
This work should be well organized and scheduled. It would be great if you could create an everyday habit of meditating twice a day, at least 15 minutes in the morning and the same duration in the evening. These sitting sessions should be scheduled for the same periods of the day, if possible. This regular practice should also include loving-kindness meditation.
It would be great if you could create an everyday habit of meditating twice a day, at least 15 minutes in the morning and the same duration in the evening.
There are countless types and variations of meditation out there. For example, you may practice vipassana, breath meditation, body awareness, walking meditation, pure awareness meditation, Kriya Yoga or something else. Or, you can concentrate your mind on something, e.g., on a single dot on the wall, on a figure of Buddha or another divine being, on a flame of a candle, etc.
However, the Reintegration System has several meditative practices to offer, too:
In all of these methods, you don’t ignore or suppress the emerging thoughts and emotions during the sitting. On the contrary, you reintegrate them entirely with your whole being. Check out the above links to learn how to meditate.
An essential part of your sitting practice should be the loving-kindness meditation. So, don’t forget to include at least 5 minutes of this practice into your regular meditation sittings, preferably at the end of each.
An essential part of your sitting practice should be the loving-kindness meditation.
Meditation brings you:
These are not claims; these are the facts. Scientific research has confirmed them, and you can check it out on the Internet and numerous scientific magazines.
What’s more important for some practitioners, meditation, together with mindfulness, will expand your consciousness and can ultimately lead you to spiritual liberation or enlightenment. The veils of ignorance and suffering will gradually (or even suddenly) lift up, and you will eventually experience Pure Consciousness as a permanent state of being.
Another vital part of your regular happiness work is mindfulness. It simply means to live in the present moment consciously. If you want to be mindful, you will have to do any activity in such a way that you are fully conscious of yourself and of the activity itself.
Although many people don’t consider mindfulness as strictly spiritual, it is indeed a spiritual practice. It leads you to your True nature while dissolving your inner conflicts softly and imperceptibly. Moreover, conscious moments in the Now will gradually accumulate and make your whole life easier.
When mindfulness becomes your natural way of living, you will enjoy every task; you will become light and, in a strange way, even transparent. You will start sensing some inexplicable joy and deep inner peace. You will feel love more and more, both for yourself and for people around you.
Mindfulness will abate or even prevent challenges.
Author: Brad Krause
"It’s my calling to help people. We all have the potential to be the best versions of ourselves we can possibly be, but it comes down to prioritizing our own wellness through self-care."
We often hear of self-care as a complement to other areas of our lives, such as supporting a fitness goal or reducing our work-related stress. Self-care can also be instrumental in helping us make personal growth decisions. Much more than pampering, self-care methods such as mindfulness, meditation, and yoga helps us see deep inside ourselves to find answers to important questions. Here are some of the benefits of mindfulness in personal development and ways to harness the power of meditation in your life.
Personal Development Challenges
There are many hurdles to growth and happiness in life. One of the biggest obstacles is indecisiveness. Because of our difficulty in making decisions, we often stay in situations or avoid changes in life that can provide us with more joy, income, and opportunities. There are several ways to seek guidance in personal development, including self-help books, discussion with mentors, scanning online forums and practicing mindfulness. Mindfulness is particularly helpful because it doesn’t return generic advice, but rather insights directly related to us. Mindfulness lets us know who we are, what we want, and what we need for happiness.
What Mindfulness Accomplishes
Introspection unlocks some under-utilized powers of the brain. It changes the way you handle stress by putting life’s challenges into perspective. Mindfulness helps people of all ages deal with life’s struggles, from a child having problems at school to a retiree struggling with senior life. It’s been effective in lowering anxiety, countering depression, aiding in addiction recovery, and dealing with eating disorders. Meditation has also been found to stimulate brain development, so your memory and cognition improves -- both of which help you make informed decisions in your quest for personal growth.
Meditation is also recognized for its ability to boost career growth. In addition to relieving stress -- which can kill productivity -- meditation improves focus, creativity, and emotional intelligence. This emotional intelligence helps people collaborate more effectively with others.
How to Meditate at Home
A home mindfulness retreat is easy to create. Ideally, the space should be separate from your work and living areas. A quiet room with minimal decoration is a good starting point. The area should be away from the noise and distraction of your home, too. If you do not have a room to spare, you can create a mindfulness zone in any room -- just make sure it is quiet and distraction-free. Meditation requires concentration and a low-stress environment, and we are profoundly negatively affected by disorganization and clutter. If you want to meditate in your home office, for example, it would be helpful to clear away papers and work materials that will draw you away from introspection and back into outside noise.
Meditation is Not the Only Path to Mindfulness
Although quiet contemplation and inner reflection is the easiest way to attain mindfulness, there are other methods for those who do not like meditation. The following are additional tools to tap into calm self-knowledge when you cannot (or don’t want to) meditate:
Mindfulness opens us to possibilities that are often closed off to us when we are scared and in the dark about ourselves. Meditation and other techniques help us find answers that propel personal advancement in all areas of our lives.
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Total Acceptance is such a powerful practice that its regular utilization in everyday life can profoundly and irreversibly transform our individual reality.
What is Total Acceptance? (I’m writing these words in capital letters to point to the specific meaning of this term.) It’s a state of the complete openness to any experience. It means to fully embrace all arising impressions, without a slightest inner resistance. Here, the word “Total” is maybe even redundant, but I have added it just to emphasize the absence of any resistance.
We can say that Total Acceptance is Pure Awareness and, at the same time, the state of Not-Knowing, which signifies an absolute openness to the Unknown. It is a temporary absence of mind and its habitual thoughts. In other words, it is the state of Presence.
However, Total Acceptance is not a dry, cold indifference. Somehow, it’s filled with deep love, as it requires not only the stillness of the mind but also the openness of the Heart.
Here is an excellent quote from A Practical Guide to Acceptance and Commitment Therapy by Steven C. Hayes and Kirk D. Strosahl: “Acceptance should not be confused with tolerance or resignation, both of which are passive and fatalistic. Acceptance involves taking a stance of non-judgmental awareness and actively embracing the experience of thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations as they occur.
Total Acceptance is not a dry, cold indifference. Somehow, it’s filled with deep love, as it requires not only the stillness of the mind but also the openness of the Heart.
Another important aspect of acceptance is the strong inclination to cope with all experiences, to face everything, either pleasant or unpleasant: “Acceptance refers to an attitude of nonjudging or openness about experience, and refraining from attempts to avoid or escape it.” - Fabrizio Didonna, Clinical Handbook of Mindfulness
Everything we resist, persists. Even more, it’ll grow up over time. Therefore, the remedy for any unpleasant state or content of the mind is to accept it completely. Whenever we entirely and honestly accept any thought, emotion or sensation, we become free of it. It will not bother us anymore. It will disappear from our individual universe, as we have learned that lesson.
Total Acceptance has a transformative power virtually in every field of our existence – spiritual, mental, emotional and even our physical life. For example, its strength is fully harnessed in one of the most effective methods for overcoming physical pain, “Accepting and Dwelling in Pain,” described in this article: 5 Powerful Pain Relief Techniques.
The bottom line is: whatever you Totally Accept, it disappears from your field of consciousness. You become free from it.
What’s also important is that this practice will not take you into passivity and non-action. On the contrary, the fruit of a regular practice of Total Acceptance will be your perfect action, whenever needed, just at a right moment. It will also yield a great deal of creativity.
Nevertheless, the balance between action and non-action will be naturally achieved.
Whatever you Totally Accept, it disappears from your field of consciousness. You become free from it.
Could It Be Dangerous?
When we Totally Accept something, we have embraced it wholeheartedly. But there is a troubling question that naturally arises: Is it dangerous to embrace negative, or harmful things? Can accepting an aggressive person’s behavior, ugly gossips or our friend’s problems jeopardize our security?
It cannot. If it does, that only means we haven’t accepted it completely.
By accepting the negativity, we are removing the negative burden on our mind and heart which has been attracting those circumstances. Moreover, the very fact that our heart is open and our being is filled with peace and love, deeply ennobles and transforms everything we do and anything we embrace. That indeed makes us safe and leaves us unharmed.
By accepting the apparent negativity, you are actually accepting the Greater Good within you that is trying to emerge in your life through apparently harsh experiences. Tell yourself: “I totally accept that which is trying to emerge through me,” or “I totally accept Greater Good that is emerging through this situation.”
The very fact that our heart is open and our being is filled with peace and love, deeply ennobles and transforms everything we do and anything we embrace. That indeed makes us safe and leaves us unharmed.
Yes, for the beginning, you can accept apparently evil, harmful or dangerous things and situations with your mind only, without opening your heart. You can say something like “OK, that’s it, I don’t care.” That means you can simply become indifferent and neutral toward the experience. No repulsion, and no attraction. No warmness, no embracing, no “risk.” It is an entirely disinterested position which blocks the experience to reoccur in your personal reality. But that’s only temporary. Without opening your heart completely, you cannot fully face the experience. Therefore, it may come back to you one day.
Remember, your Essence, or True Self, cannot be hurt or endangered. Ever.
Without opening your heart completely, you cannot fully face the experience. Therefore, it may come back to you one day.
Ultimately, you will have to open both your mind and heart to all experiences. It’s similar to the state of Not-Knowing – total openness to the Unknown is also a genuinely transformative attitude.
If you are still concerned that Total Acceptance of negativities could open your inner door to those things to happen to you, the solution is to Totally Accept its opposite, too. But first accept that very concern, your fear of any negative reperccusions. Then accept the negative thing itself. Finally, accept its opposite – a normal state, or a wanted, positive thing.
If you cannot accept any of these, you might be dealing with a complex subconscious structure. Those structures should be thoroughly reflected and processed with some of the main Reintegration techniques (preferably the Inner Triangle), or with some other psychological or spiritual method.
Finally, with both polarities Totally Accepted, while being free from the ingrained fear, we’ll be able to act from Presence genuinely.
How to Totally Accept
The skill of Total Acceptance should be learned progressively. It is always easy to accept something you like, or you are being neutral to, but accepting unpleasant or painful experiences is a completely different story. Therefore, we should start learning acceptance on neutral things first (because you have no intimate relationship with them), then on positive ones (although you have a positive relation toward them, it is still a kind of attachment), and lastly on the negatives.
Here is an exercise for learning this skill thoroughly:
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