Beginners Mind - What is it And How It Relates To
Massage Therapist Self Care?
Beginners Mind and your massage therapist self care. My story as a professional massage therapist.
Can you relate to the Zen mind?
Zen Mind, Beginners Mind
In my Zen books collection, I have a wonderful little book that I really like, called "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" written by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, who was the founder and teacher of the San Francisco Zen Center.
As far as Zen books go, this is a great read about the Zen mind. Also see Massage In Las Vegas No Mind Technique for another great Zen read!
In "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind", Shunryu Suzuki Roshi mentions the following three levels of beginner's mind: first there is beginner's mind, then there is no beginner's mind and then there is once again beginners mind.
I remember when I first became a massage therapist and I thought there just couldn't be a better thing to do with my life. I attended an excellent school and I got to come in and hear all this wisdom and practice and learn these wonderful techniques and learn about the human anatomy...it just seemed wonderful.
But then, after a couple of years, once I got out of school and on my own, I'd attend Massage Continuing Education courses and I began to notice that the instructors and fellow massage therapists repeated themselves over and over and over again, and very soon I felt that I had heard it all.
Because of this constant repetition I began to become very familiar with the instructors, the material and the teaching. In fact, I could repeat many courses verbatim I knew them so well.
As a result, the teaching kind of lost its luster, and with that luster went my beginners mind. To my own detriment, I had become an expert. I was freely offering advice to other students, and I knew all about the certified instructors.
"Don't ask them; ask me, because I can tell you about their teaching better than they can."
Of course this is very arrogant, but the really disappointing part about this is that it is also very dull. There is no life in being an expert, since it is all old information.
Zen Mind "Process"
There is nothing more boring to the expert (and to those unfortunate enough to be around) than being an expert. There is no quicker way to take the fun out of life than to get good at interpreting it, because nothing new comes along.
Whereas, the fact is that every moment is completely new. Original. No moment has ever been repeated since the beginning of time, if there were such a thing. This is why I call it "Original Mind."
So this acquiring of expertise dropped me exactly in the middle of the second state, no beginners mind.
What I'm beginning to understand is that beginners mind, Zen mind is not what the student who first comes through the classroom door possesses, but something that develops after many years of learning and practicing massage. Direct experience of life is hidden by the very enthusiasm and excitement that the beginner has towards all s/he feels s/he is going to gain.
I might not realize that I am in that condition at the time, but as I grow and develop I begin to see how valueless, how 'tasting like cardboard', any kind of expertise really is.
At some point a new level of appreciation begins to emerge. I begin to suspect that just experiencing what ever it is that comes along may be enough. And guess what? That happens to be the teaching! And then once I begin to truly value and practice that condition, that openness, that not-knowingness, then it's much easier just to accept that. I can basically abide in not knowing. And it's fine.
Nobody's home and that's fine.
What a relief. I don't have to be anybody. I don't have to be an expert. I don't have to know, because I see that I can't know. I can just be right here. I learn that the practice is simply to experience this moment freshly and fully.
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