By Brad Beckstrom
Beginner’s Mind (Shoshin) is a concept that’s frequently used in Japanese martial arts and Zen Buddhism. It refers to having an open mind, lack of any preconceptions about limitations, success or failure.
When you dive into something new, there’s a special kind of energy cultivated by beginner’s mind. The excitement of a child with fresh finger paints and a blank canvas for the first time.
Late last year I found myself in a creative slump. I needed something new to snap me out of it. I wanted to cultivate the excitement of beginner’s mind. I needed a major creative overhaul, another book or seminar would not cut it, plus I’d already done all that. Sabbatical? Nope, tried that. I needed something epic, uncomfortable, difficult. I needed to tell people about it, even write about it, share it with the world. I decided to embark on an epic quest.
To start, I needed to think back to the first time I experienced beginner’s mind. Maybe not all the way to childhood, but possibly something as a teenager. I remembered a gift my parents gave me when I was 15 years old. It was a 35mm SLR camera. After the first roll of film I was hooked. I had beginner’s mind. I needed to get that back. My creative quest would involve photography.
Times had really changed since the last time I’d used a camera creatively. Images have become the language of a generation. There are 15-year-olds with iPhones doing incredible work, with a million followers on Instagram. It was a totally different game. Fantastic images are being created and instantly shared using smartphones, apps, and social media. People were skydiving above the Taj Mahal with HDR cameras and GoPros strapped to their head and chest. Would some old dude wandering around cities with an SLR camera matter to anyone?
You know what’s great, I didn’t care, I had beginner’s mind again. This creative quest is not about getting likes or being a professional photographer, it was about a creative journey. In my beginner’s mind, the only person who has to like my photos is me. Charles Bukowski said it this way: [Read more…] about Cultivating Beginner’s Mind. Sometimes it’s great to have no idea what you’re doing.