Surviving Beginner’s Mind by questioning the belief “I don’t belong here”.

Have you ever been starting something new, and the thought comes in, “Jesus, when will this be over?”

It’s literally the first fifteen minutes of an all-day workshop. 

The tech equipment isn’t working on stage. The people look suspicious. The venue is very cold. The first exercise is to turn to our ‘neighbor’ and share why we came to this workshop. 

Seriously? I don’t care why my neighbor came. Maybe I should leave.

Doubt can come careening through our experience about anythingnew. (Gosh….maybe there was nervousness about turning to the neighbor. Maybe we’re in the right place, at the right time, on the right day. With the right neighbor). 

About a month ago, I started lifting weights to address my hamstring injury from 2013.

The one where, if you’ve been reading Grace Notes for awhile, my right hamstring tore from the sits-bone (followed by surgery to re-attach it) because I decided it was a good idea to do a gymnastics move I used to perform when I was fifteen. 

It’s been mostly hurting in one way or another since then. 

I’ve done many physical therapies, checked with the surgeon who originally performed the repair, had another MRI, myofascial release therapy, massage, stretching, feldenkrais, yoga. 

And done many worksheets: “This should go away, I hate this, my leg is ruined, I’ll never run again, my life is over”. 

One day, I heard strengthening all the leg muscles would help. Not exactly a new thought. But for some strange reason I will never know, I suddenly downloaded a program for weight training, and started.

To do this program, I had to go to the gym. That’s not unusual for me. But going into the weight lifting section of the gym….that’s a different story. 

I generally stick to exercise equipment I can do while reading my books. 

Off I went, with youtube videos on my phone of how I was supposed to perform each new weight lift. 

There were some uncomfortable moments trying to figure out the name of certain machines or where that particular dumbbell is in this place (don’t look at me)!

But one day, a few weeks into my new program, I went to the gym at 5 pm in the afternoon. 

Bad idea. 

Triple the amount of people, with clanking noises and hard rock music more prevalent on the speakers. Lots of men with very big arms, spotting each other. 

They know I’m a novice. They think I don’t belong here.They’re staring at me.

I caught myself having this pattern of thought energy: I am not like them. I don’t belong. 

Is it true?


How do I react when I believe I’m the one who is not like the others


Nervous. Turning up my headphones. Watching them, but not too long, or too much.

Noting some of the equipment and how they’re using it. Seeing the huge size of the weights they have on their bars. Noticing another woman in the area and thinking “oh good, I’m not alone.”

Such suspicion about not belonging! 

Who would I be without the thought they think *something* of me (and it’s not good)?

Who would I be without the belief there’s any danger here? Or that I need to know something I don’t know?

I notice the delight of seeing these unique people. I listen to their voices, especially one man’s whose normal speaking voice appears to be yelling. I love hearing their banter, the cadence of their laughter, the jokes to one another. Noticing they don’t address me, bother me, or even say one thing to me. I’m completely welcome, I’m not kicked out.
In fact, one muscular man with gray hair looks at me and just as I begin to think I need to move out of his view, he asks “Did you leave a blue sweatshirt over there?”


Yes I did. 

How kind of him.

I turn my thoughts around: They don’t know I’m a novice, and it doesn’t matter if they DO know it. They think “oh how cool, a woman who could be my mom is here in the gym. Love it.” They think I belong here. They’re not staring at me.

These could all be just as true, or truer. 

Turning the thoughts around to myself: I don’t know I’m a novice. I think I don’t belong here. I think they don’t belong here (want them gone). I’m staring at them! The thing is, none of these thoughts are true, when I inquire. They are all founded in the assumptions that I should know something before I know it, and that being new at something is “bad” or will bring rejection from others. 

With something new, you have to start. It’s weird at the beginning. You might not like the change. 

“Sometimes the ‘fault’ that you perceive in another isn’t even there. It is a total misinterpretation, a projection by a mind conditioned to see enemies and make itself right….And what you react to in another, you strengthen in yourself.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

Has Not Belonging ever really happened in a permanent, unresolvable way? 

Not one time, ever. 

Today, how fun to notice what’s new. This moment here, now. This gorgeous morning.

How many things I’ve learned so far in this lifetime going from baby to experienced.

The brilliant and helpful people everywhere on planet earth. 

In this new moment, I open a full calendar telling me what needs to happen when, including my gym visit. I notice the hamstring injury pain has been reduced to almost nothing over the past 4 weeks. 

Perhaps a new thing you find uncomfortable, and yet you’re drawn, is beckoning you today? 

Without believing your stressful thoughts about it…you might walk towards the door, being a new baby learning how every step of the way. 

Much love,Grace

P.S. Spring Retreat is May 15-19, 2019. Register.
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