beginners guide

The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness. Whereas mindfulness involves paying purposeful attention and meeting experience with openness and curiosity, mindlessness means functioning on automatic pilot—following routines without paying attention, without appreciating, and without awareness of what’s happening inside and around us.

Grab a medium-sized object—water bottle, cell phone, book—and grip it tightly, making your hand into a fist around it. Then, without opening your fist, use that same hand to try to pick up another object. What happens? When I tried this exercise, my fist knocked uselessly against the second object and I couldn’t pick it up without opening my hand and letting go of the first object.

We usually perceive everyday people and situations without appreciation or awareness, and through the lens of what we think we already know or understand about them. In contrast, beginner’s mind means experiencing people and situations as though for the first time, without the filter of history and established beliefs. There are several advantages to consciously cultivating beginner’s mind. Here are two ways to avoid mindlessness and increase mindfulness in everyday life.