Beginner’s Mind

hanging cat.jpg

It might be that a blog called
Beginner’s Mind is the best thing that ever happened to my yoga

When I began writing this a year ago,
the wonderful people at Yoga Journal gave me this title. I’d been
back in full-on practice for seven months at that point, and thought
it’d be a great idea to have someone writing from the back of the
class. True, I’d done sessions of classes on and off over decades,
but I was a beginner.

Nothing has changed that. I keep
waiting to grow out of it. It doesn’t happen.

I adore being a beginner. Here are a
few benefits:

1. There is enormous freedom in not
knowing, and not having to know. One of our favorite expressions at
home is, “If we don’t know yet, then we don’t need to know
yet.” Every morning I begin practice truly not knowing what will
happen, what my mind and body will do with this first pose, even why
I’m really here on the mat. This amounts to committing myself to a
sense of wonder, which feels healthy and good. I think it’s
beginning to spread into the rest of my day. Thanks, thanks for

2. Being a beginner means that I am
happily the student of each yogi and yogini who writes in response
to these posts, both at and on Facebook. That has been completely
humbling and almost always joyous.

3. The energy associated with “you
should …” is a drag: rigid, limiting, heavy, and sour. As long as
I remain a beginner, I hope not to wag an I-know-better finger
in anyone’s face. (This applies to my kids, my lovely man, and my
friends. Your path is your path.) If you hear “you should” come
out of my mouth, please, PLEASE, give me a raised-leg balance-pose
kick to the head.

4. I still practice in my clown-stripe
pajamas. I’ve given up thinking I’ll graduate to something
fancier in the mornings. Beginner’s comfort.

5. Competition and perfectionism have
been big parts of my life. If I ever become anything but a beginner,
I suspect those traits will do their best to crash my yoga party,
which is happy, forgiving, and peaceful party most mornings.

Are you a beginner, or have you
peacefully moved on to something other than beginner?

Thanks to yoga for keeping me in
kindergarten. I like it here. Thanks to Grace Smith’s boyfriend, who took the picture of the cat. And thanks to you for the


Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the
and on

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