Thom Thumb wrote a wonderful article which he called the “Flow-Festo”. And after spending some time reading it, I thought that it would really be interesting to explore all of the different aspects which make up his Flow-Festo in greater detail. I really wanted to dig deep and explore his manifesto by tearing it apart and examining it piece by piece. And this is week I’ll be focusing on the very first point Thom makes, which is to spin with the intention of “The Beginner’s Mind”.
The Beginner’s Mind has its origins in Zen philosophy, and was popularized in a book by Suzuki Roshi entitled, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind”. Essentially he views the Beginner’s Mind as an ever-present state of mind in which you do not know.
In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few.
This passage is a wonderful summation from his book which directly states the nature of this mindset. To break it down, as a beginner, anything and everything we do is both new and provocative. It will naturally elicit a wide range possibilities due in large part to our lack of understanding as to “how it should be done”. And while we may not be technically proficient at the whatever it is we are doing, the plethora of ideas and concepts is both overwhelming and beautiful.
In the case of the expert, being both accomplished and knowledgeable, we narrow our definitions of what can be done. Thing become either correct or incorrect. One either knows, or one does not know. And being so narrow minded about any subject will inevitably lead to stagnation and frustration.
The essence of Zen is ‘Not Always So’
This phrase really encompasses how we must always remind ourselves that there is more to explore. And this falls right into many of our definitions of Play, which is to explore without boundaries, to be curious, and to allow new and unique experiences to influence our play.
So, how can we utilize the idea of the Beginner’s Mind in our everyday skill toy sessions? Take whatever moves that you feel most comfortable with, and tweak them. How does it feel to break old habits? Take a basic 3 Beat pattern, but place it at your knees, or interact with other objects while spinning, whether they are people, or perhaps a park bench. Anything to break yourself away from the conditioning that you have taught yourself.
Another aspect of Beginner’s Mind which becomes very difficult for many of us is maintaining this mindset in teaching situations. When we teach, we have ways which we view to be correct. Just last week I was convinced that my 3 Beat Poi-Hooping weave utilizing hand rolls instead of thumb rolls was best. And, after teaching a lesson, a student pointed out that if you don’t do the thumb roll on the opposite side, you must instead do a thumb roll on the same side. This perhaps sounds complicated, but in essence, I thought I knew, when in reality I did not. So not matter what we teach, we still do not know. All we can do is hope to bring our perspective to others in a useful and manageable way.
The best thing about beginner’s mind is that through exploration, we have brought our skill toy communities to the place they are today. Whenever someone develops a new technique, they have had to step out of the comfort zones previously established and actively pursue a new way of looking at their toys. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes not knowing.-Photo: Waldemar Horwat
Creator of GyroPulse and Co-Founder of The Gyronauts. Social Media Manager at Saatchi NY. Loving the Hoop since 2006. Loving the Poi since 2007. Loving the Burn since 2007 More from this author