The Beginner’s Mind is a concept from Zen Buddhism called Shoshin: “having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.”
I love teaching beginners because of this natural openness. A willingness to try new things and to experience endless “aha” moments. However the longer a dancer practices the art of dance the harder it is to connect with this beginner mind. Once we’ve experienced the joy of conquering a difficult phrase or some super fast footwork or that ever elusive double turn, we can get impatient with the important work that must be done EVERY DAY to maintain that power, speed, and flexibility.
So how do you reconnect to your beginner’s mind?
- Listen to your teacher carefully for the new image or the correction given to another student. How can you apply that to your dancing?
- Listen to your body. How is the movement feeling today? Are both sides of your body reacting the same way? What can you do to improve your efficiency and ease of motion?
- Listen to your mind. What are you telling yourself while you move? Are you having positive thoughts or are you criticizing yourself or others in the class? What can you find to congratulate yourself for?
- Listen to the music. Find a way to fill the whole exercise with performance energy. What you practice in class translates directly to the stage. If you perform class exercises with a distracted, lazy mind, that is the way you will ultimately perform for an audience.
If you’re like me, you dance because you love it and because you can’t imagine NOT dancing.
So give 150% every day and be thankful for every minute in dance class.
Let’s get ready to listen like a beginner!
See you in class!