“Sho Shin” means beginner’s mind. To have a beginner’s mind allows us to experience something fresh every time. This is particularly helpful when you are practicing something over and over (keiko) for a long period of time. Every time we repeat something is a different experience. No matter how hard we try we will never be able to repeat something exactly as before. So in practice we must engage our creative minds to allow us to experience the new.
Sho Shin also enables us to remember how it was when we first started training in martial arts. We can all recall how strange and new everything was and how difficult it was to try even the most basic movement. Remembering these awkward times can make us better teachers by helping others through our shared experiences.
Beginner’s mind also teaches us humility. By remembering where we came from and how much farther we all need to go, it helps to remind us we are not more important than others.
It is my hope that we can all live Sho Shin Sho Gai: “Beginner’s mind for the whole life.”