Beginner’s Mindset: The Freedom And Infinite Joy of Being A Novice

Any real ecstasy is a sign you are moving in the right direction. –St. Theresa of Avila. Trans. by Daniel Ladinsky

Maybe it is the teacher in me always at the front of the classroom, but on occasion I love to be the bumbling idiot in the room.

Last night I went to a Knife Skills Course at Different Drummer’s Kitchen. It was fabulous, I learned a ton and I got to feel that tense-muscles-can’t-remember-my-name-type of confusion.

After a ten minute history lesson about knife design and manufacturing I was already swooning in the beginner mindset and had lost touch with my body. When the instructor moved rapidly into basic knife holding instruction I went into bumbling idiot mode. I looked at her hands, then I looked at mine. Nothing. She forced my clamped hands to move and then put the chef’s knife on the carrot stick again. Nothing, I couldn’t remember how to move my own hands. It was great. Complete mind/body melt down.

It took several vegetables and a lot of extra attention before something happened. I was mid julienne and the knife suddenly slid across the cutting board in this almost poetic fashion. The beginner in me froze terrified that I would never be able to do it again, but the teacher in me was delighted. I had seen the flow. One second in time and I was convinced I would be able to chop vegetables. Almost immediately I could get it back for four to five slices at a time. Then the flow happened for 8 to 10 slices. By the time I got home to show off for my husband, it was there, the poetic flow had destroyed all my years of muscle memory because my hands and forearms loved doing it the right way.

It reminds me of alignment. Years ago I was working with a client with sacral instability. She had no sacral curve at all, in other words she had a flat butt. At the end of our lesson I taught her how to recede the pubic disc to allow the sacrum to free back so the pelvic floor could be open and wide. She did it three or four times and liked it. I told her to think about freeing the sacrum back every day when she went walking. A week later when we had a follow up lesson she was very embarrassed because she had become confused and decided to just stop thinking about it. But when I looked at her I had to laugh. She had a perfectly healthy sacral curve. The body felt how good it was to be in the right position and helped her forget the old way. She still studies with me today and she hasn’t lost the sacral curve one bit.   

Our bodies and our minds know flow and ease and will always prefer it. Trust flow.

Check out my handiwork from last night’s class. Nothing like Beginner’s Pride.

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