Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Beginner's Mind"

Yesterday I was writing about how barefoot running forces me to stay in the present moment because of how not paying attention could result in damage to my feet. ("Learning to Run in the Present Moment")

I also was writing about how I wondered if this process might become automatic at some point and become less present, and go on automatic pilot like some of my running in the past -- in shoes -- has been.

Well, lo and behold, a book I'm reading addresses this concept.  In the book The Practicing Mind: Bringing Discipline and Focus Into Your Life by Thomas W. Sterner, he talks about  a state called "present-minded awareness" that comes about when someone is really focused on the process of what they are trying to accomplish.

The author says that in Zen, this state is referred to as "beginner's mind" because

",,, when you are a beginner at whatever activity you are attempting to learn, it takes all your concentration to accomplish the activity and your mind is empty of chatter. As you become more adept at the activity, it actually becomes harder to concentrate solely on performing it."

I have been finding, as I explained in the post before, that barefoot running is requiring me to be in a process-oriented, present-minded state.  I need to apply this state of mind to my singing (and I originally picked up the book, The Practicing Mind, thinking of my main discipline of practicing singing), but in order to discover it, it seems that I had to cross over into barefoot running to find it.  The things I"m learning, once having been kind of "forced" into that state, can be applied to other activities.

Just a few times barefoot running, and running seems like a completely different activity to me.  It is teaching me.

1 comment:

Neil Z said...

i get it! Keep up the awesome bf training! I just crossed 10 miles in my new found running life. I Love it!