Happy New Year! Here comes 2016. I love the New Year. Sure, it’s just another day, yet it feels like a great time to make a fresh start. I will do some things to signal the change—108 Sun Salutations and a cold plunge in Barton Springs—and, voila!—everything old is new again. I enjoy the ritual –it’s challenging and energizing.
One thing I won’t be doing this year is making a list of resolutions. I’m a little tired of reminding myself of the things I don’t do well enough, the reasons I need to improve, and the mistakes I’ve made.
This year I am simply going to act like a baby. No, I won’t throw a tantrum or wear diapers (I’m still a few years away from needing those again, I hope!). I’m going to adopt a beginner’s mind—the mind of someone who is brand new. This means letting go of expectations and judgments based on past experiences, and replacing them with an open mind. Here are 3 things that babies do and 3 things that beginner’s do that I am intending to emulate in 2016:
- Explore: Babies love to explore because everything is new. Feet are fascinating to babies. When is the last time that you were fascinated by your feet? Just for fun, take a look at your feet—really look, as if you’ve never seen feet before. Then test them out. Stand on them. Shift your weight from side to side. Wiggle your toes. What else can they do? Okay, enough about feet, but you get the point. I’m going to explore this year—rather than taking the things I think I know for granted, I’m going to explore more possibilities.
- Discover: Exploration leads to discovery. When babies explore their feet, or hands, or mouths, or anything, they discover what they can do. They are not limited by what they think they can or can’t do—they are just open to the discovery. As for me, I know my exploration will lead to discovery—perhaps a new capability, a new favorite place, a new way of approaching a Yoga posture.
- Touch: Babies like to touch things—it’s a way to explore and discover. They don’t just sit on the sidelines watching; they go and get in contact with their object of interest. In this way, they experience it firsthand. That sounds good to me too—I’m going to make a little more contact this year—not just reading about things, talking about things, or watching things—I’m going to reach out and touch and get that first person experience.
- Open to learning: Because beginners don’t have experience, they are always open to learning. They don’t go into a situation with preconceived notions because they know they have a lot to learn. I hope to learn a lot in 2016, and to do so I will open my mind, which means detaching from the things I think I know and be willing to let in new information.
- “I don’t know”: Beginner’s are not afraid to admit when they don’t know something—since they are new they don’t expect to know anything! However, when one is an expert, they are expected to know things. When you know everything (which you can’t) there is no additional learning. Being able to say “I don’t know” will open me up top new possibilities, especially if the “I don’t know” is followed by “I’ll find out”.
- Experience the moment fully: Beginner’s can fully experience the moment because they are not attaching all of their past experience and judgments to that moment. When you see or do something for the first time, you can really take it in as it is, rather than how you think it is, how it used to be, or how it should be. Beginner’s mind will allow me to ‘take it all in” and in that way, live life more fully, in each moment, as it is.
So, I think that’s it. No lists of what needs to change. No illusions of a “better me”. No focus on my shortcoming. That feels pretty good. Like a baby and a beginner, I’m ready to explore, discover, touch, open to learning, embrace the not knowing and be in every moment. Bring on 2016!