In his book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki writes about freeing the mind through meditation, creating the possibility of a fresh and truly open mind, especially when approaching new things. He says that we should look at everything with curiosity and acceptance, and be both vulnerable enough and strong enough to not know everything, to withstand discomfort, to be humble.

When you write with a beginner’s mind, you will see your family story through new eyes. When you write your story the way you see it, not the way it has always been told, you free yourself from the strictures of a “right” way to view the world. Perhaps you are the one in the family who doesn’t agree with the point of view of other family members. You may feel lonely or even crazy under such circumstances. But still, this is what you know, this is your truth.

Using beginner’s mind gives us permission to write what we don’t know and to write what has never been written before. It is a healthy, open approach to writing from your heart and putting the critical voices aside.

1.  Write about what “Beginner’s Mind” means to you. What new beginnings have you had in your life? List at least ten.

2.  Find photos for each decade of your life. Write about these topics for each decade:

     a.         What was most important to you during these years?

     b.         What was the best part of your life; the worst?

     c.         Write about your hopes and dreams.

     d.         Describe your favorite clothes, and activities.

     e.         What were your mother and father like during this time?

     f.          How about brothers, sisters, or other family members?

3.  Describe your grandmother; your grandfather.

4.  What life lessons did you learn from them?

5.  What legacy did they pass on to you?