Beginners Mind

tumblr_lvfyqeRBpe1r653yzo1_1280.pngThe phrase Beginners Mind for me comes out of the Buddhist teaching. It is that place where you allow yourself to be open to being a learner. It is the time when you ask questions and allow for the fact that there will be many mistakes. Mistakes are, as we know, where we learn the most. It is light and full of possibilities.

It is also hard at times to hold this way of thinking in our thoughts. Today after days of rain and more rain, days of chilly damp weather, days of feeling stuck in the mud (both literally and figuratively) I am struggling to hold that fresh thinking. The thinking of possibilities seems hidden from me.

At times I am a frustrated old frog crocking away about the same old issues. The politics are still crazy, the weather not to be mentioned, the school year and testing seems to have gone on too long, my little seedling are not growing – crock, crock, crock!

The lack of walking, sun and physical labor in my garden has taken a toll. I have lost hold of that beginners mind. I know that a few weeks ago I was plotting changes in the garden. I was thinking through where to add bushes, garden beds and how to rid myself of so much green grass. How does this small space become more of a natural garden and less of a city yard with grass? How does gardening move into an art form with design? How do I learn those steps? I was thinking about how to be creative. How does one learn creativity?

I have for the moment lost that light. I am frustrated and feel I don’t have a clue what I am doing. (Do you hear the old frog crocking?) It is times like this that I realize the importance of a teacher/mentor. When we lose our way it is the teacher who nudges us back into possibilities. It is the teacher who can guide us to the right article to read or where to research for that new idea. The need for a mentor who can nod and agree that it takes time to learn anything or everything. Change comes with time, learning comes with time – we will stumble along the path but we will learn the teacher reminds us.

One can learn on their own. Some of us are better at this than others. There are those who will strike out and research, read, try and try again and then become their own expert. For most of us that discipline and the ability to hold that positive thinking can be hard. This is why we have teachers or mentors. This is why we seek out experts to remind us that we are all in beginners mind.

I do read lots of blogs, books and chat with neighbors to learn but a mentor takes on a different role than just helpful hints over the back yard fence can not provide. A teacher does more than just hand out information to her/his students. They help you reach into the details of learning – the information of dirt, plants, sun and bugs but they also help you find that creative touch. They help you develop who you are as well as your skills and your understanding of the world around you. This mentorship is an art in and of its self. It is about helping a individual grow.

So today while it is raining once again I will return to my garden books as my mentors. I have yet to find my way to a live, breathing mentor for the garden but I will try to remain open to the possibility. I will also try to leave the crocking outside with the real frogs who may find a new home in my back yard which right now is more pond than garden.

  • Cloudy
  • 51 degrees feeling like 46 – (warmer than yesterday by about 10 degrees)
  • raining again
  • with the possibility of sun tomorrow – beginners mind!


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
This entry was posted in behavior change, gardens, Reflection and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Beginners Mind

  1. mgminer says:

    I love how you put beginner’s mind, teaching, and gardening together! Also three of my favorite things. Your posts on gardening have been inspiring me to get back out to mine. We are also having unseasonably wet and cool weather.

  2. Raivenne says:

    “Beginner’s Mind” I do like that concept. As a creative and an instructor it’s a balance to be inspired creatively and to inspire professionally. I have to have a beginner’s mind, an open mind to both to to grow and show. I bet your garden will be beautiful. Look forward to a future slice with before/after pictures.

  3. arjeha says:

    “Beginner’s Mind” – allowing ourselves to be learners. At times obstacles are placed in our way that cloud our mind and prevent us from moving forward. Sounds like you have overcome those obstacles and are moving ahead, reading, planning and resulting in a beautiful garden in the near future.

  4. lindabaie says:

    The term “beginner’s mind” is new to me, Joanne, and how interesting. I enjoyed your connections from it to your own frustrations with the constant rain. I know how much you love gardening, and hope for sunshine for you soon. I hope those ‘mentor’ books re-set your learning mind, and then you can translate the plans to reality.

  5. Ramona says:

    We are having gorgeous sunshine in the NW and so happy for it. Maybe we swapped our rain for your sun. Thanks! Hope your sun comes to stay soon and you can enjoy some time with your gardening books and that beginner’s mind to lead the way to success in your yard.

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