MONDAY BYTES — May 23, 2016
I’m nearly two years in to taking Qigong classes (sometimes described as the “parent” of Tai Chi) and class almost always leaves me feeling like a VERY slow learner. On some days, I feel like an uncoordinated idiot. Thank the gods there are no mirrors in the classroom!
Qigong is a form of meditation in motion. The daily practice involves ongoing refinements and nuances to a set of exercises that improve your balance, energy, posture, and focus. Every day I feel as though I need to unlearn and then relearn many of the same lessons.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my class and my teacher is amazing, but the learning curve is steep and slow!
Not unlike music, right? Or for that matter teaching, coaching, or any other life long discipline.
My qigong practice is a helpful reminder to re-connect with . . .
It’s about being:
Open to Change
Willing to be Taught Something New
Willing to Be Embarrassed, to Feel Slow, to be Corrected
Of course, when you are closer to being an actual beginner (as I am I with qigong), it’s not such a stretch. But when it’s work we’ve been doing a long time, it’s a challenge to reconnect to our
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”
— Zen teacher Shunryu Suzuki
Here are tips to getting the beginner’s mind activated:
In the practice room
To listen to yourself with fresh ears and new perspective:
Devise a new warm-up routine.
Use a practice journal to be more intentional and specific.
Record / video your practicing to become more objective. Vary what you listen for and focus on.
Assess your physicality as you play or sing, looking for ways to release tension and to more directly convey your musical intent.
Notice your process and note your results.
Set small goals for short time segments.
Ask a colleague to listen to you and give you feedback.
Practice mindfulness, be fully present.
To become more creative and engaging:
Ask more questions to understand your students’ process.
Notice where they get stuck in applying ideas and skills.
Notice your “go to” interventions—your habits.
Challenge yourself to respond in new ways. Expand your toolkit.
Experiment with at least one new mini exercise to get your students:
listening in new ways
goal setting for practice sessions
Using the beginner’s mind is about being truly in sync with your student learners. Because we are ALL learners. It’s about focusing on the process, taking one step at a time, and being tuned in to how our students process new ideas and skills.
in mentoring or coaching
For me, it’s about learning as much as possible about how a client is viewing their situation.
This requires Active Listening as opposed to making assumptions and using a one-size-fits-all approach.
I want to understand how the world looks from her/his perspective, in order to offer the tools and feedback that are most helpful.
Helping clients articulate their goals is essential. Once we have clarity about goals, the action steps and journey ahead is much easier to plot and to get going on.
And once the journey is started, it’s about dealing with any obstacles (actual or perceived) that arise.
Some mantras to tune in to the beginner’s mind:
Don’t get it perfect: just get it going
One step at a time: just focus on the next step. Learn as you go.
Lose yourself (your ego) in the action
See short video explaining Beginner’s Mind: see short video on
The lesson of the overflowing tea cup
Beginners Mind: The Art of Starting Over
And for those of you in Boston, I’ll be speaking at the upcoming Classical Singer Convention next weekend and would love to see you there!
Check it out—lots of professional development (Career Feedback) sessions as well as master classes (maybe good to gather more teaching ideas) http://www.classicalsinger.com/convention/
My session will be Sunday May 29, 12:30-1:30: Your Next 5 Career Moves.
Info on working with me HERE.
Dream Big, Plan Smart, Live Well