Beginner’s Mind

by Tom Swift

Yesterday I was thinking about resistance training and the beginner’s mind.

Later, in bed, I read my horoscope and that phrase, beginner’s mind, was in the first line.

I like to look at things as if for the first time.

There is simplicity in stripping away conceptions about how things are, where we are, and how good we should be at them. (I tend to carry a lot of these notions around in my proverbial nap-sack.)

I wrote a book — then went to graduate school for writing.

I have been back-squatting for years. I am considering starting over with my squat as if for the first time. I was talking to a personal trainer yesterday about the way, like a hitter who is pitched inside, I have a tendency to open up my stance a little on my squat. I turn my right foot out a bit, in other words. Even when I am conscious of this fact. You could watch me move weight and not notice; it is subtle this turn but it is often there.

Recently, I vacuumed over the closet door floor guide in my second bedroom, inadvertently sliding over this little piece of plastic that keeps the double door in proper alignment. Even broken, the door still works; look at it, slide it left and right, and you might not even notice the broken guide. But the doors do now go, if slightly, back and forth as well as left and right. They are not in exact alignment.

Being off track even a little has consequences. Sometimes when I go heavy on my squats I can feel a tenderness in my right knee, on the same leg that opens up as if to turn on a curveball. (I was a left-handed hitter. To extend the metaphor, I guess I still am.)

I went to the hardware store to buy a new guide. The door will be fixed this week.

I went looking for a trainer because I want to fix the misalignment in my squat. I want to make sure I am properly moving through other lifts as well. I am thinking this will mean, at least for a time, reducing the weight and doing a lot of repetition. It will be less about working out and more about practicing. The fix will take, in other words, application of the beginner’s mind.