Cultivating Beginner’s Mind

March 5, 2008

Years ago, I offered a creativity course online. It was free. Someone recently asked if I’d put more creative writing prompts on my blog, so I thought I’d oblige by including some of my lessons from my Creative Mind Adventure.

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in
the expert’s mind there are few.”
–Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, Zen master

LESSON POINT: Cultivate beginner’s mind to unleash creative
power and possibilities not yet discovered. Allow our expert
to relax and take a vacation.

DEBORAH’S DREAM-A-TIVITY POINT: I give my expert mind a
vacation and keep myself open to new ways of creating
my work.

The lesson is on the next page…

LESSON: Recently, I kept track of how I spent my day.
At first, I felt resistant and then decided to open
up to what possibilities this task might present.

What I discovered is that I rarely think I am
“getting enough done.” In other areas of my life,
I’ve been in tune with feelings of “not being
enough” and took steps to change that. Yet,
I had no idea I was doing it in this one
domain of my life.

The big learning for me was that I could NOT
be doing something in one domain of my life
and then DOING it in another. Of course, I
knew that. This lesson just made the point
crystal clear!

Here’s an activity I invite you to try:

REFLECTION: We humans sometimes set up blocks to our learning.
If you’ve ever trained or taught someone, you might already have
noticed this before. These blocks can be enemies of our learning
process. Some common enemies of learning include:

1. Difficulty to admit we don’t know
2. Blind to blindness and not aware of blindness
3. Clarity and wanting to be clear all the time
4. Saying/thinking “I don’t have time”
5. Addiction to answers
6. Distrust and/or permanently suspicious
7. Not giving someone the authority to teach you
8. Significance: Thinking learning equals “looking good”
9. Triviality: Inability to take anything seriously
10. Know-it-all
11. Thinking that learning means gathering information
12. Seriousness: Inability to laugh at yourself while

Have you ever noticed these showing up in yourself or in someone
else? Take a moment to reflect on what your enemies of learning
might be so that you can recognize them (and not let them hinder
you) during this course. If any of these seem familiar or you
experience other ones, what has that cost you in terms of your
creativity? What would be a way to invite “friends of
learning” into your life on a more regular basis?

EXERCISE: Use this prompt to reflect on how you learn best:
“I learn and create best when I…”

DEBORAH’S DREAM-A-TIVITY POINT: I embrace a beginner’s mind
during my creative time so that I can entertain
possibilities and discover new ways of being adventurous in
my art. I ask “what wants to happen?” in this moment so I
can unleash my creativity.


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