Beginner’s Mind: “Shoshin” Parenting

Last school year I had the opportunity to hear educator, author, and speaker, Mr. John Perricone. His words spoken that day, as well as the words written in his book, Zen and the Art of Public School Teachingchanged me. He spoke of the Zen philosophy taught to him by his karate master, known as Master Hidy Ochiai.

His philosophy is something called “shoshin.” This is the idea the one should cherish the beginner’s mind.

In our work or home life, we should approach each day with the positive mindset and enthusiasm that we would if it were our very first or perhaps even our last. Something to be cherished.

Beginner's Mind: "Shoshin" Parenting

Equipped with Mr. Perricone’s motivational advice and a poster for my classroom, I tackled the rest of my school year with the “shoshin” mentality. The result? I had my best school year yet. I have done the same this year, and it has proven to be even better than the previous.

Beginner's Mind: "Shoshin" Parenting

So why not bring out our beginner’s mind into our parenting?

Shift back in time, to the weeks leading up to meeting your new child. Remember the anticipation of the unknown? Maybe you read all the books, downloaded all the apps, and organized a perfect environment.

Put yourself back into the delivery room. Imagine that first wailing cry that took your breath away. You knew in that moment that your life was forever changed. You were determined to take on the role of mother or father with unwavering commitment. This is what I remind myself of when the days of parenting two little ones (with one on the way) get tough.

Beginner's Mind: "Shoshin" Parenting
Nice to meet you, sweet boy.

We often reflect back on the first year of something and wonder how exactly we made it through. The first year at a new job can be overwhelming and extremely busy. Despite the challenge, we power through. Parenting is much the same.

I share with you this piece of advice, not because I have mastered the art of “shoshin” parenting, but because it is something I am struggling to follow myself. Moments after I typed the previous sentence, I turned around to find my daughter drowning in a sea of clothes that I had just neatly folded. Instead of losing my mind (I was close), I took a deep breath. I put myself back into the moment I first laid eyes on those 8 plus pounds of fresh baby girl.

Beginner's Mind: "Shoshin" Parenting
The beginning with our sweet girl.

The next time you are about to join your child in crying, whining, or a meltdown, take a deep breath and consciously seek your beginner’s mind.

What helps you you stay calm with parenting gets tough?


 

Sarah has lived in the area her entire life and now resides in Cedar Rapids with her husband of almost 9 years, son Jameson (6), daughter Samantha Jo(2), and son Calum (1 month). She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in English Teaching. She currently teaches English at Linn-Mar High School, her former stomping grounds. She enjoys long strolls through Target, spending time with her family, reading, and attempting yoga poses.