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April Newsletter: Beginner’s Mind

“A child’s world is fresh and new and beautiful, full of wonder and excitement. It is our misfortune that for most of us that clear-eyed vision, that true instinct for what is beautiful and awe-inspiring, is dimmed and even lost before we reach adulthood. If I had influence with the good fairy who is supposed to preside over all children, I should ask that her gift to each child in the world be a sense of wonder so indestructible that it would last throughout life.” – Rachel Carson

Hi friends, welcome to April! Spring is in full swing in Houston and I’m finally feeling back to my (mostly) upbeat self. As more people are posting about getting their vaccines (including me, hooray!) and more places are opening up to the public, I’ve been thinking about what life might look like over the next few months…which reminded me of a story I read somewhere about a couple who had a beautiful fish tank. One day, they decided to clean it out, so they filled up their large bath tub and put the fish in there while they worked on the aquarium. When they were done cleaning, they went to get the fish out of the bath and found them all huddled in the same spot where they had placed them. Although they had a whole new world to explore, the fish were so accustomed to their limited environment that they didn’t even consider venturing out past their imaginary barriers.

I know nothing about fish and can’t even tell you if this was a true story, but its message clearly stayed with me. And I wonder- after a year of being more or less cooped up, trading social activities for social media, and getting literally everything we want delivered right to our homes – will we want to venture out into the real world once the threat of the pandemic is over? Or have we lose our desire to explore, try new things, and take risks in favor of comfort and habit and the safety of virtual experiences? Will we walk out of this with hearts more open and willing to connect with others outside of our “Covid-bubble” or continue to keep our distance?

As challenging as the last year has been, I do believe the “forced pause” on our routines, habits, and fast-track lives has given us the unique opportunity to start from scratch, to step back into the world with what Zen Buddhists call a “beginner’s mind”. When we are in this state of mind, we are free of preconceptions, free of expectations, filled with curiosity, and open to a world of possibilities. The truth is, most of us were just like those fish long before we’d ever heard of Covid-19, trapped within glass walls made up of likes and dislikes, beliefs on what’s right or wrong, possible or impossible, worth our time or not, and very narrow views on what a successful and happy life really look like. A beginner’s mind truly sets us free by removing self-imposed limits and making the entire ocean ours to explore and enjoy.

Over the last few weeks, I have committed myself to trying out all sorts of things I would have easily talked myself out of pre-pandemic. It began with a class at Dance House Fitness called Hustle, which was as ridiculously extra as it was FUN! Not gonna lie, I absolutely loved the loud music, the booty shaking dance moves, and following choreography like I used to when I was younger. Invigorated by this experience, I started signing up for other things I had always wanted to do but never “had time to”, such as an Abstract Painting & Mixed Media workshop at the Art League of Houston, a Swing Dance Master class at the River Oaks School of Dance, and a Mystery Picnic adventure with Dave (ok, this one just popped up in my Instagram feed, I had never even heard of it before but it was pretty cool!)

And you know what else I tried for the first time in at least 6 years? A hot, sweaty power flow yoga class. If you know me, you know that’s really not my jam. But embracing a beginner’s mindset invites us to revisit things we might have not liked before and give them a go with fresh eyes. Don’t worry, I don’t think I’ll be transforming Yogaleena to a hot studio any time soon (not ever) but I honestly enjoyed the experience. Every person, situation, and thing we encounter has something to offer, something to teach us, if we are open to receiving without judgement or agenda. And it turns out life is way more fun when we live it in this way.

So, what are you going to try over the next 30 days, just for fun? In what ways can you embrace a beginner’s mind as you move through your day? How will you set yourself truly free?

Wishing you a month full of adventures, discovery, and play.

Namaste,
Carolina

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