Being A Lifelong Student: The Beginner’s Mind in Recovery

In Recovery by Tree House Recovery

In recovery, we’re often told to avoid complacency. When we get complacent, we live in a state of thinking that we know everything. This is dangerous to our recovery journey, as recovery is a process that needs us to be active, present, and alert. So, how do we stay in this state of active alertness? We remain teachable, curious, and interested. Zen masters refer to this state as a “beginner’s mind.” When we live with a beginner’s mind, we start to see the world and ourselves very differently. This is a technique that we can employ in recovery and beyond. Let’s take a look at some simple ways to drop into that state.

Avoid judgment. Along with adulthood comes an endless string of decision-making and “real world” pursuits. This kind of strategic attitude can often leave us feeling like we’ve seen it all. While judgment can be necessary (we need to be able to discern a good decision from a bad one), it can also put a damper on the beginner’s mind. If you catch yourself judging a situation before you feel it out, try to approach it from a place of curiosity, rather than judgment. Ask questions and see what you can learn from the situation.

Make space for play. There’s an element of playfulness and expansion in the beginner’s mind. Life can get drab when we think we know everything. For instance, if you feel like your daily routine is boring, try to create space for playfulness. Play some music, zone out, draw, or go on a walk.

Engage the senses. Use your senses to navigate your day. This will bring you into the present moment. For instance, instead of just walking to work while texting, notice the trees, the way the sidewalk feels beneath your feet, the smell of the air, and the way the walk makes you feel. It’s all about perspective!



Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon uses cutting-edge techniques in individualized programs to help men achieve freedom from addiction. Taking a holistic, sustainable approach to the inner and outer effects of addiction ensures you or your loved one will emerge with the confidence and skills to manage your addiction independently. No one is beyond help- our Admissions Counselors are available 24/7 at (503) 850-2474