Beginner's mind isn't a new concept. In fact, it's an archetypal energy represented across cultures and systems of symbolism: In the tarot it's represented with the 0 major arcana card, The Fool; in Jungian archetypes, it's The Innocent; and in I Ching, it's represented by the #4 hexagram Meng, which may be translated as Youthful Folly or Inexperience.
This archetype is highly represented in symbolic philosophical systems for a reason: It offers a way to view the world with new, fresh eyes, and it suggests an opening of the mind so new, creative thinking can find its way in. In all symbolic systems, this archetype represents the unlimited potential that lies before us when we enter beginner's mind.
It's easy to get stuck in fixed patterns of thoughts and beliefs about the world around us. We are so accustomed to seeing the world one way that our mind closes off to the possibility there is another. In fact, scientific studies have shown that when we are focused on one thing and a change is made right in front of us, about 50 percent of the people studied actually fail to notice the change. When referring to visual phenomena, this is known as "change blindness," but it can happen not only visually, but when we are focused on fixed perceptions and beliefs, as well. Other studies show that people with deeply held beliefs (such as political, philosophical, or spiritual beliefs) will actually dig more deeply into their stance when presented with evidence the opposite is actually true. It's how we deal with cognitive dissonance - by rooting more firmly into what we think we know, regardless of how much evidence we are presented to the opposite. There's a great book about this topic called Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) that really delves into this phenomena; I highly recommend it.
The tendency of the human mind to get stuck into one pattern of thought and perception keeps us from truly exploring the world in which we live. Our beliefs and perceptions are so powerful and strong they create our reality. For example, if someone believes they are sick and focuses on that thought long enough and hard enough, eventually their body follows suit because the power of the belief in illness brings about the physical state that matches self-perception. This is the partial basis behind the Law of Attraction; what we believe and what we focus our attention on becomes our reality.
That's why it's so important to tap into the archetypal energy of The Innocent, The Fool, Beginner's Mind. When we see things with fresh and innocent eyes, we drop our preconceived notions, and the world around us just may surprise us. Being in beginner's mind enhances our experience. It allows us to fully experience the beauty around us and opens us to new possibilities. Someone we thought was a jerk may, in fact, be lovely. Something we thought was boring may be fascinating. Something we thought we didn't like might turn out to be wonderful. We might learn something new about a subject we thought we already knew. And, we can open up to new ideas that can change our lives and possibly change the world.
One of the best ways to step into beginner's mind is to be in the moment and allow. Look at the world around you, even if it's something familiar you've seen thousands of times, and try and spot something new about it. Hear with your heart when you engage with others. Reach out with your soul as you journey through life. Allow for the possibility of fresh, new ideas, feelings, relationships, and thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking the same old thing, stop and ask yourself, "Is that true? How can I possibly know it's true? Could something else be truer?"
I encourage you to engage with the world as The Innocent. See it with fresh new eyes in every moment, and your life will instantly change.