Monthly Mentor

Natalie C. Jones (February)
Each month, a different member is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Natalie C. Jones is an artist, small business owner, and the director of education at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture. She has 10 years of experience working as an art teacher and teaching artist throughout the east coast and the Midwest. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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November 12, 2020

A Beginner’s Mindset

By Lark Keeler

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few.”

~Shunryu Suzuki

How can we practice greeting the day with a “beginner’s mindset?”  Approaching things with a beginner’s mind, means we are greeting the experience, no matter the familiarity, with fresh eyes, curiosity, and wonderment.  It is a shifting in perspective that promotes a joyful feeling.  Even meeting water running from a faucet with wonderment, gratitude, and thoughtfulness during one of the many times you are washing your hands, invites a peaceful contemplative pause. 

Beginner’s mind can be a practice that can partner well with your personal artmaking.  Delight and savor the experience of working with art materials and media as if it is the first time you have touched those supplies.  How does it change the way the process of artmaking feels?  Can you find the child-like wonder of painting for the first time in your experienced hands and mind?  Use all of your sensory experiences in the moment to guide the act of noticing and appreciation and to remain open to all possibilities. 

As educators, greeting the challenges we face with a growth mindset, open mindedness, and a dash of beginner’s mind can help us cultivate refreshing feelings towards challenges or dull routines.  Beginner’s mind, with its openness and awareness, is judgement free.  It creates the mental space to be a non-judgmental observer, wonderer, and life-long learner. 

Find yourself today marveling at the experience of driving a car, taking a shower, drinking tea, or even breathing.  I invite you to take a moment to just be curious and grateful, to wonder and delight.  Pausing to notice the everyday magic that surrounds our daily experience can freshen up even the most challenging times. 

-LK

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