Becoming the Dawn
by Jennifer Dhyana Nucci
Yoga is a practice of creating and blessing; a practice of learning and of growing from each experience..
It is a practice of infinite possibilities. Beginner’s heart-mind is when you are ready to welcome the unexpected, and when you have a refreshing openness to the unknown dimensions of consciousness in everyday ordinary times.
To be a beginner is to not know.
It is to have essentially no set idea what’s going on, or why, or even how, and then to willingly engage and explore an experience as it is unfolding. It’s wonderful!..(though sometimes, a little scary. :) … to drop your predispositions and expectations… To free yourself to play with whatever comes and fully engage in it with love and respect… for the spark of learning and discovering and experiencing, not for being ‘good’ at it, or looking like anyone else. For beginners, yoga opens itself to you most readily when you are there simply for the joy and experience of the moment, and the accumulation of moments that create the practice. This approach to the process of learning is of great value! .. and encourages us to try many more new things in life.
One of the reasons that we may resist being a beginner at anything is because in trying something new we launch a cascade of change within. This cascade of change can sometimes feel like chaos. Chaos is the internal ‘mess’ that precedes a restructuring of our ideas and beliefs. There can be unsettling emotions that go with this: fear, trepidation, anxiety.. yet also excitement, hope, adventurousness. In this process the internal chaos is a signal that we are being effected, possibly in a transformative way. In the case of yoga, there is transformation toward the enrichment of life.
The Value of Chaos,
and how to work with Chaos as a Herald for Change
We live in a world of patterns, many harmoniously ordered laws of the natural world that create expectations and understanding. We also live in a world of societal laws, rules, and many differing belief systems that seem to have their own, perhaps less harmoniously ordered, patterns. These patterns help us to learn and to work with the world.
And we also live in a world of chaos, seemingly random deviations from ‘the norm.’ When we live, we are constantly, and sometimes invisibly, enmeshed in the ways of the world that surround us. We buy into some of them unknowingly; we celebrate some of them with passion; we work with some of them as useful; we challenge some of them and help to create change.
When we encounter a state of chaos inside ourselves or in our surroundings, it means things are not as we thought they were or were going to be, or that they are in a state of transition. We’re unpleasantly or pleasantly surprised, or an idea or situation bumps into some strongly held belief. Two forces (or more) meet and they do not blend. Chaos is the meeting place of those forces and the tussle and movement (whether it be in the mind, or heart, or situation) of disharmony attempting to make its way toward new harmony. This is the important role of chaos in breaking down and creating the opportunity for rebuilding. When you feel chaotic, confused, mixed up… you can use it as a sign post for learning. Allow and breathe. Relax with it rather than fighting against it. In this way you do not artificially push the chaos to resolve, sacrificing integrity of the process. You also do not apply resistance that would only prolong the chaos. You stay in the authentic restructuring which often may tax your patience, but ultimately creates the truer new moment; one that is not just another repetition of the past.
Life keeps moving and changing and so do you. You grow more open and happier, or constricted and fearful.. according to how you view and work with the ever changing way of things. When you embrace a feeling or experience with compassion, with breath and patience, you are creating a peaceful quality of understanding and acceptance around your inner reality. You are holding space for your own best unfolding. This is especially difficult, and yet correspondingly most powerful, when you are acutely uncomfortable or in distress. Developing a peaceful relationship to inner and outer chaos creates an enormous capacity for personal growth. ‘Capacity’ here is felt as sensations of ease.
When there is ease, there is energy for growth and change.
Energy is what we need in order to respond with love and care, rather than react in fear or anger or indifference. Stressful reactions cause depleting energy and narrows your mind so the body experience then becomes deterioration rather than growth. So, consciously breathe and relax. Choosing an easeful approach and trusting yourself is something you can go for.
The best yoga is the yoga of ‘greeting.’
…of opening yourself to yourself in the new moment and really listening just as you would to a friend. Listening to your body, heart and mind without agenda. The flow of your deep listening to yourself that you establish through your beginner’s attitude is exactly the environment your being needs for growth.
Growth means that we begin in one place, or as who we’ve already been, and alter into another, the person we are becoming. By definition, to grow is to change; it is to become something previously unknown to yourself. Thus we truly are all beginners.
You may do yoga a long time and have the muscle memory that helps you to move fluidly from one pose to another, but the stretch and grounding and expression of that pose each day is its own. Different than all other days, all other moments. And your muscle memory will respond to the day and to your attitude during your practice.
And so, the attitude of beginner’s heart-mind is for everyone, as each new moment of life itself is a beginning, always. It is an opportunity to embrace no limitations of thought,
of understanding or experience.
If something needs healing, a body, a past experience, a relationship – you can allow openness and vision for the greatest opportunity for that healing, rather than limiting it with whatever you think you know. If you are used to moving in only one way, stretching to only a particular capacity; if you find some things difficult and some things impossible, you can learn to open completely to a brand new experience of those things… Sometimes life will surprise you in wonderful ways.. And you can be open to this while at the same time carrying the wisdom that life often teaches us through repetition. You allow things to be as they show up while moving forward with freshness, inquiry, and openness to the new moment.
In fact, ‘new moment’ is a very effective mantra to repeat to yourself throughout the day
with a deep breath…
Beginner’s heart and mind is very alive and playful. You can find yourself doing things you never thought of before, thinking in utterly new ways. You develop strengths and skills you never knew you could have. You have experiences asked for and unasked for which make your life far reaching.
To have a beginner’s heart and a beginner’s mind is truly
to become the dawn.