You’ve probably already hear of the Zen practice of keeping a beginner’s mind in order to remain open to new possibilities, and learn to accept life on its own terms.
While this is a core mindfulness exercise that can do wonders to help you grow spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, it can also seem like an ideal that just isn’t achievable during the normal grind of daily life.
So, in this post I thought I’d share 10 activities and exercises you can use to keep working with your beginners mindset, even when you’re at work.
10 Beginners Mind Activities and Exercises for Modern Life
- Start The Day Right. A beginner’s mind starts with a clear mind. For many people, life is so crammed with activities and stressors from the moment they get up in the morning that they never take the time they need to clear their head. To start the day in the right mindset, you might start a meditation routine, take a few minutes to journal, say some positive affirmations, or even just take 5 minutes to yourself during your morning cup of coffee.
- Take Time to Breathe. Another great way to create space in your life is to get into the habit of taking time to notice your breath as you go about your day. Periodically stop and take 30-60 seconds to close your eyes and focus on your breath. That simple practice can do wonders in helping you to gain clarity and see the day’s events from a new perspective.
- Walk A Little More Slowly. Every time we take a step, we have an opportunity to become more mindful, and pay attention to the present moment. When we rush around from place to place, we often forget to pay attention to the Now, and a simple exercise to re-center yourself is just to walk a little more slowly. As you do, you’ll have more time to notice your surroundings, and will likely find yourself more centered in your breath, feeling calmer and more at peace with your day…no matter how busy you are.
- Ask Questions You Think You Know The Answer To. A beginner’s mindset is all about openness, receptivity, and learning. Often, when we are well-verses in a subject, we forget that the answers we think we know aren’t always the only way to think. By purposefully asking questions of others, even when you think you know what your answer is, you can find new insights or inspirations that you hadn’t considered before.
- Practice Loving Kindness To Your Co-workers. Loving kindness is the practice of having compassion for everyone around you. At work, it can be easy to think that your co-workers are creating stress in your life (whether it’s a boss setting a new deadline or a co-worker trying to undermine you), but when you step back, you can see that each person is acting according to his own best ability and level of consciousness. When you learn to appreciate the journey others are going through, you also learn to respect and appreciate your own journey, and can become more humble about your own actions.
- Compliment A Job Well Done. Equally important to practicing loving kindness is to compliment others for a job well done. In a rushed environment, we can often set our expectations in a way that overlooks the accomplishments of others, and as you pause to feel gratitude for the good work your peers are doing, you increase your appreciation for your own work as well.
- Give Credit Where It’s Due. Just like complimenting a job well done, giving credit where it’s due is an exercise that causes your own ego to take the backseat. While it might be tempting to think that you were the cause of your team’s success, all great leaders know that humility is the best way to inspire and motivate others.
- Ask About Your Coworkers’ Hobbies. In addition to building camaraderie with your team, getting to know your peers on a personal level can give you a radically new perspective on life. By simply asking about their hobbies and passions, you can learn new skills and new ways to relate to each person for tasks at work.
- Let Go Of Old Problems. When you work with the same people day in and day out for years, you’re probably going to accumulate a long list of grievances and issues about myriad (usually minor) issues. A beginner’s mind lives in the present moment. This means that you need to let go of what happened last week or last year, and approach your peers for who they are, right now. By giving them space to grow themselves (instead of assuming they’ll fall into the same-old patterns) you give everyone the opportunity to create new and more positive experiences in the workplace.
- Read More Books. Everyone knows that continuous learning is one of the top-ranked keys to success, both at work and in your personal life. Most people stop learning after college, so make it a point to learn more about work-related topics you’re interested in by committing to reading more, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day on a break or on your commute. Choose topics that are both directly and indirectly related to your core responsibilities, and you might be surprised how quickly your new knowledge will be recognized in the workplace. If you’re too busy and just can’t find the time, you could also listen to audiobooks, which are easier to fit into your time at the gym or in the car!