There’s a saying that we begin again every time we step onto our mat. So, whether you are brand new and literally stepping onto your mat for the first time, or years into your yoga practice, we are all essentially beginners together. The beauty of being a beginner is the ‘beginner’s mind’. The mind of a beginner is one that is open and ready to learn. It’s not bogged down with what it thinks it already knows. There is a fresh, newness to everything.
Becoming a beginner is nothing new
Seeking a wide-open beginner’s mind in the face of our stories, prejudices and excuses is nothing new to us humans. The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu scripture and an important historical yogic text written sometime between the fifth and second century BCE, is the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna before the start of the Kurukshetra war. From a yogic point of view, it addresses the tension between our easily distracted senses and pre-existing impressions, and the clarity of intuition that is part of an uncluttered beginner’s mind. This plays an essential role in how we view our place in the world as an individual versus a being unified with all.t is an exploration of how to balance Self (Atman) and the Supreme Being (Bhagavan).
Mahatma Gandhi says of the Gita “it is an allegory in which the battlefield is the soul and Arjuna, man’s higher impulses, struggling against evil.”
Are we Arjuna?
As we climb onto our mat, we are a bit like Arjuna: grappling with our own unfortunate tendencies (hopefully they’re more bothersome than they are ‘evil’). We’re asked to become fully focused, to land in the present instead of ruminating into the past or anticipating the future.
We find that there are myriad emotions involved in trying to create stillness, and to staving off the agitation of our impulsive minds.
Not to mention that we’ve become addicted to swinging from instant messaging to instant checkout to Instagram to insta-alarmist sound bites and back again like monkeys swinging from branch to branch.
In this jungle of immediate and often vapid ‘communication’, it’s easy to lose sight of anything higher, larger or universal.