I took this picture the other day when I was walking to work. I have seen TV cameras set up at this spot dozens of times to film news interviews. I have seen tourists galore photographing each other. I’ve seen a couple of photo shoots of brides and grooms dressed in their wedding clothes. I’ve seen the fountain full of ducks or gulls. I’ve seen it empty of water, with rain pelting on it to eliminate any reflection, in a blizzard, iced over, full of algae, as a play spot for dogs who like to swim, in fog, in beating down sun, with cherry blossoms floating on the water, and with waves from a strong wind. Although (or more likely because) I’ve walked past this view hundreds of times in the 25 years I have lived on Capitol Hill and the 18 I have worked for the Department of Labor, I have never taken out my camera and photographed this incredibly photogenic spot.
When I took the photograph on this day when the reflection just happened to be perfect, it led me to see the spot the way tourists see it: full of freshness and wonder, beauty, and excitement to be in this place that represents a certain mind-blowing type of power. Reflecting on the act of taking the photo from my perspective as a resident, led me to think about the Anusara alignment principle of “opening to grace.”
One of the many aspects of “opening to grace” is having a “beginner’s mind.” What does it mean to have a beginner’s mind on or off the mat? I think it means being open to new insight, to a sense of joyous discovery, to a feeling of fresh intoxication and wonder, no matter how many times we have done or seen something before. How many times have you done lunge or downward facing dog? Eaten a green bean or a potato chip? Petted a dog? Turned on a light switch? Filled a glass with potable water out of the tap? If it is the “same old, same old,” then you will lose the desire to practice and the possibility of growing. But most of what we do, especially as we get older, is a repeat of something we have done before. Grasping at new experience as a cure for boredom or jadedness will only make us unhappy. If we can see each day with newly opened eyes, then we can find fulfillment in each moment and be better able to grow. We will be open to ever deepening refinement and exploration within the space of our existence.