Fresh Beginnings

How many times in our individual lives has each of us tried to reinvent ourselves? Our bodies, our faces, our jobs, our environments, our relationships, and overall lifestyles? And how many times have we fallen short of these commitments?

There is such cultural fascination with self-makeover. This last weekend in May, the unofficial start of the summer, is when many of us make vows to reinvent. We strive to look great in our bathing suits, finally meet that special someone, or just be plain fabulous.

But can we accept who we are at the very beginning of these undertakings, at our personal points of embarkation? Can we breathe in our imperfections, without falling into lambasting ourselves about not yet being where we want to be?

Right now, I am in the throes of reinvention. I am coming back from having a baby, and truth be told, I am incredibly out of shape. My goal is to re-inhabit my body, and be peaceful every step of the way.

This is hard. I am not as spry as I used to be. I bounce from how I used to look when I was impeccably toned to how I want to look in a few months, without stopping at center to accept myself today. Still, inside this destabilizing bounce, I find distinct moments of freshness. It is exciting to stand at the onset of my re-sculpting journey.

Suzuki Roshi, a wonderfully inspiring Soto Zen teacher, spoke extensively of beginner’s mind, which in my humble understanding, means to live, radiate as, and breathe like a true beginner. The minute we become jaded from experience, or from the swollen-headed sense that we have gotten somewhere, we have stepped away from peace.

We see this state of being most clearly in new babies, in their bright open gazes. They are so pure, so true and un-encumbered. Beginner’s mind incarnate.

Now when I step onto the treadmill, go up into an arm balance, or stretch on a mat, I think of my new baby, and her exceptionally clear and unabashed gaze. I absorb Suzuki Roshi’s teaching in the vision of her face. I become clearer, less foggy, and am able to experience myself in this same trusting way. I understand that my only real work is to touch this place again and again.

Come on. Join me. Reinvent yourself, your more obvious outsides or your subtler insides. Just be a baby at it–eyes wide, unblinking, no hesitation or commentary. Peer at yourself lovingly and openheartedly, at all those things you want to change, and see that there is no space for judgment or for anything else besides peace and breath. Let each new look be a first beholding, a wondrous sense of wow. Be totally awake and sweet. Just go for it.

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