Being a Beginner – Again and Again

As we progress in our lives, we are less and less inclined to be referred to as a ‘beginner’.  We completed an education or learned a trade and after years on the lower scale of the pecking order, we like to consider ourselves an expert in at least one field (let it be a home-maker, scientist or business-person).  So, why would we want to give up the reputation, influence and comfort that come with being professed in something?
While the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘beginner’ as an “inexperienced person”, a more holistic definition may be gained when looking at the meaning of the verb ‘to begin’: “to come into existence” or “to bring into being”.  This suggests that whenever we put ourselves in the situation of a beginner, we are creating something new and allowing something fresh to unfold.
I think some of the best example on how to treat the notion of being a beginner came from Steve Jobs after he was fired from Apple: “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
In yoga, we are all beginners.  Every time we step on the mat, we encounter new challenges, new openings, we may face some fears or achieve a posture, previously thought unachievable.  No matter how long we practiced or what kind of postures we think we ‘mastered’, each practice is different and one of the first things that was repeated to me by my teacher as a budding yoga student: “Do not be attached to the fruits of your actions.”
While this is not an excuse for not trying to progress further in your practice, the beauty of allowing yourself to be a beginner again and again is that you can let yourself be challenged in new ways – and not to perform asana by rote.  By treating your practice as a template for new opportunities, you may find yourself achieving things that you never thought possible.  And it is this initial thought that precedes all beginnings and which defines the perimeter of where you want to go.

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