I hope you are doing well and enjoying the beginning of the Fall season. This time of year always reminds me of the excitement I felt as a child of starting a new semester at school. My mother always brought my sister and me shopping for new school clothes (she was a traditional Swede, so no jeans or sweats for us – instead, always beautifully tailored skirts and slacks, and collared shirts with sweaters). We had our new paperback books from Scholastic, empty notebooks to soon be filled with creative writing, and leather containers of pencils and pens. The fresh, crisp air on our morning walks to school invigorated us for the school day ahead. Each day was filled with new experiences and growth opportunities, and the expansion of young minds absorbing new lessons – both academic and social. Decades later, as a mid-life adult, I still get excited about the fresh start that Fall offers – new classes to teach and take, new opportunities to learn and grow. After all, life is a continuous lesson if we allow ourselves to experience all we observe with the wonder of a young child. I believe, in Buddhism, that is described as “beginner’s mind”. Not assuming we already have all the answers, and not going through our lives on remote control. Instead, truly observing and experiencing all that surrounds us, as well as our inner worlds. As we practice yoga, qigong, dance, or any forms of exercise, we can aim to approach the movements with a fresh perspective – even if we have done that pose or move hundreds of times before. After all, our bodies are different day to day, moment to moment, as are our thoughts. Just like the young child reading her new books or running on the school playground, life is more interesting and full when we are truly experiencing it in the moment.
Oberlin College – 2019