Additional information about "Shoshin (beginner's mind) and resistence to learning"
  • Author: alc0
  • Published: 20.03.2019 13:33
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Shoshin (beginner's mind) and resistence to learning

Over the past few days, I've dramatically improved my ability to play ascending/descending vertically on the strings using the Esus4 Chord, as well as by practicing all-picking pentatonics. These have traditionally been areas of playing where, if required, I'd turn to fingerpicking (and in the name of being able to produce music without learning new skills, this isn't entirely without fault). However, it does highlight how areas of weakness can be deliberately ignored, for years, and alternate pathways found. My other excuse, which is also not entirely without fault, was that I was not able to envision exercises such as are given by Pebber which focus on these skill sets. Yet even here, it is noteworthy that I encountered some resistance to practice the exercises that cause the most difficulty for me.

"Resistance to learning" might well be confronted by the Zen idea of Shoshin, "beginner's mind." Playing an instrument for years, like any practice, causes persons to favor those methods and ways of working which are more comfortable to them. Thus it is disarming to encounter ways of playing that do not come immediately. Therefore openness to failure, and therefore the opportunity to learn for mistakes, i.e. to SUCKING at guitar, cannot be underestimated in value.

One of the rules given to beginners, which applies here also, is the necessity of playing things well and slowly. It might seem, for instance, that players with some competence in other areas would have learned that this would be necessary to acquiring other new skills. Yet there can be a cognitive dissonance between the success itself, that "I can play certain things well," that makes it easy to ignore the area of growth: i.e. "I can't play these certain things well."

Embracing beginner's mind thus both helps recognize one's real abilities, and creates a space for potential to flourish.

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