Remember kindergarten for a moment. What was it like?
Playful. Carefree. Exciting. Wonder. No grades. Getting to try new things. Maybe even cookies and milk.
How many things have you not tried out of fear you won’t “get it right?” Like me in a fancy coffee shop. I always order coffee, regular coffee. I have no idea what the other drinks are… and I have never wanted to feel so stupid as to have to ask what they are. Seriously. The worst that could happen is that they give me a free sample. But the expectation is that I already know what the drinks are and I do not want to look stupid. What new things are you afraid to try?
Instead of not trying things that scare you, consider allowing yourself to do it as if you are in kindergarten. When I let myself be in kindergarten, I instantly take a deep breath and relax. I just get to try it. The pressure is off. I feel playful and carefree because I don’t judge what I am doing as right or wrong.
Allowing yourself to ‘be in kindergarten’ with anything you do is an opportunity is to swing away from the right and wrong, and allow it to just be what it is. The right or wrong, the striving for what’s best, next, better, that isn’t life in kindergarten. In kindergarten, I just get to do it. Just be it. Find my light. See your light. And be in the light together.
Finding that kindergarten space is often easier to do when we are trying a new experience. Because the situation is brand new, it’s easier to let ourselves off the hook to “get it right.” We can more easily find that place of freedom of judgment and expectation. Think about the last time you did something just with the freedom to try, without even the possibility that whatever happened could be wrong. That is part of the kindergarten mindset—just show up and give it a try. Be present. Perfection not required or expected.
But why be in kindergarten for just new things? What would happen if we applied that freedom to something we’ve done before? This idea is something my yoga teachers talk about as “beginner’s mind”. They say things like “Feel the pose as if for the first time. What do you notice about this pose in this moment?” There’s no judgment of what happened the last time. It is about this time. Right here. Right now. Present time.
When we tap into the beginner’s mind for all of the things we have done a thousand times, we tap into the right here and now – being fully present with the miracle before us. Have you ever watched a young child blow out a dandelion? See a firefly? They approach these experiences with a sense of wonder. An awe for this life, for this experience, for this moment. THAT is being in kindergarten. They are fully present, taking in every detail of the miracle before them.
So in a kindergarten mindset, we experience the freedom of not being right or wrong, the freedom to try something new, or trying something old as if for the first time, we are showing up creating our experience, giving it a try in present time, in the miracle of life. It all sounds great.
Yet, as adults, there are some things we are expected to know and do – and we can be a little uncomfortable in the space where we raise our hands and say “I’m a beginner. I do not know how to do _______________(fill in the blank).” And that is why some of us stay in a routine and do not try new things. It isn’t always big life moments where we can be in kindergarten. We can practice releasing the fear in smaller moments. Like me in the fancy coffee shop.
If I could be in kindergarten, with the freedom to just try something new, I would walk into that coffee shop and order a cappuccino. And that is really part of the fun of a kindergarten mindset. Getting the freedom to fail, showing up and try. And as we practice in these smaller moments, it gives us the experience of trying something new so that when the life’s path decisions come up, we are ready, we can trust our intuition, let go of the fear, and show up and try.
It takes practice, really doing this kindergarten mindset. So I offer you the opportunity to try it out. You could set the intention to have an experience this summer that is about showing up, letting go of perfection, letting go of judgment or being judged, maybe try something new, and especially try something old as if for the first time, giving it a try in present time, in the miracle of life. And don’t forget to play!
Here’s a starter meditation to get a little practice at letting go of what has always happened in the past, and let yourself have an experience as if for the first time.
LINK TO RECORDING
How can you approach your meditation practice and spiritual skills with a beginner’s mind? Even if you know how to meditate - you’ve found what works for you - is there a nuance that you can find that allows you to see something new about yourself? Letting go of what has happened, and what may happen, and be present with what is happening right now?
Thank you for your time and attention and the opportunity to be in kindergarten with you.