Beginner’s Mind – Lior Ophir

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few”

Shunryu Suzuki

Towards the upcoming autumn contact silence retreat I was asked again to write a short text. Reading what I had written towards what was my first contact silence retreat in Gaia Terra last January, and reflecting towards the upcoming one, came to me the concept of “beginner’s mind”.

“beginner’s mind” (Shoshin) is a concept form Zen Buddhism inviting openness to a subject even when meeting it not for the first time or even when studying or practicing in an advanced level, just as if it were the first time. Just like a beginner would.

I’m returning to the beautiful eco-village of Gaia-Terra, and to a contact silence retreat format that I have practiced already in the last meeting in January. I still have vivid in my mind and heart the place, the people, the winter surrounding of the everlasting cloud sitting over Gaia-Terra, the dances, the sittings, co-teaching with my old friend Anna Da-Pozzo, co-playing music with my new friend Roberto, and many more – food, feelings, moments of challenge and of joy…
Having already this “history” inside me – Can I still come with a beginner’s mind? Open and ready to the unknown? 

Curious to how it will be this time.

Keeping all my knowledge, memories, history but without being governed by them. Without them limiting my experience but rather – enriching it.

Allowing new things to come. New meetings, dances, music, and silence. New surprises.

I would like to plant this seed of “beginner’s mind” practice also to my dancing, my teaching

in this meeting.
How can we cultivate a beginner’s mind?

How can we practice it inside the framework of contact-improvisation?

Inside this autumn contact silence retreat?

As we deepen our practice in life and in dance, it is perhaps more challenging to face each moment with the same curiosity joy and openness as the first time. But every moment is the first time, so can we still do this? It is for sure worthwhile to try.
Which tools can support us in this search?

These are questions I bring with me to the autumn silence retreat. This is my intention. Dance and contact improvisation will be my playground to explore this.

And I would love to meet you there.

“Nella mente del principiante ci sono molte possibilità, nella mente dell’esperto ce ne sono poche”

Shunryu Suzuki

Verso il prossimo ritiro autunnale mi è stato chiesto di scrivere un breve testo. Leggendo ciò che avevo scritto in merito a quello che è stato il mio primo ritiro di silenzio di contatto a Gaia Terra lo scorso gennaio, e riflettendo verso quello imminente, mi è venuto in mente il concetto di “mente del principiante”.

“mente del principiante” (Shoshin) è un concetto del Buddismo Zen che invita ad aprirsi a un argomento anche quando lo si incontra non per la prima volta o anche quando si studia o si pratica a un livello avanzato, proprio come se fosse la prima volta. Proprio come farebbe un principiante.

Sto tornando nel bellissimo ecovillaggio di Gaia-Terra, e in un format di ritiro del silenzio del contatto che ho praticato già nell’ultimo incontro di gennaio. Ho ancora vivido nella mia mente e nel mio cuore il luogo, le persone, l’ambiente invernale della nuvola eterna seduta su Gaia-Terra, i balli, le sedute, co-insegnando con la mia vecchia amica Anna Da-Pozzo, co-suonando musica con il mio nuovo amico Roberto, e tanti altri – cibo, sentimenti, momenti di sfida e di gioia…
Avere già questa “storia” dentro di me – Posso ancora venire con una mente da principiante? Aperto e pronto per l’ignoto?

Curioso di sapere come sarà questa volta.

Conservando tutte le mie conoscenze, i ricordi, la storia ma senza esserne governato. Senza che loro limitino la mia esperienza, ma piuttosto – la arricchiscano.

Permettere che nuove cose arrivino. Nuovi incontri, balli, musica e silenzio. Nuove sorprese.

Vorrei piantare questo seme della pratica della “mente da principiante” anche nella mia danza, nel mio insegnamento

in questo incontro.
Come possiamo coltivare la mente di un principiante?

Come possiamo praticarlo nell’ambito della contact-improvvisazione?

All’interno di questo ritiro autunnale?

Man mano che approfondiamo la nostra pratica nella vita e nella danza, è forse più difficile affrontare ogni momento con la stessa curiosità, gioia e apertura della prima volta. Ma ogni momento è la prima volta, quindi possiamo ancora farlo? Sicuramente vale la pena provare.
Quali strumenti possono supportarci in questa ricerca?

Queste sono domande che porterò con me. Questa è la mia intenzione. La danza e la contact improvisation saranno il mio terreno di gioco per esplorare questo.

E mi piacerebbe incontrarti lì.

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6 – 10  April 2023

Gaia Terra, Flambruzzo, Udine

31 Agosto – 4 Settembre 2023

Monterosi, Anghiari, Arezzo

29 October – 2 November 2023

Gaia Terra, Flambruzzo, Udine


CONTACT SILENCE retreats is a social promotion project of LIBERA MENTE APS association

We firmly believe that contact improvisation holds great potential on a social and communicative level and carries within it an unequivocal educational message. In addition to being the vanguard of the natural and authentic movement, it teaches respect for one’s body and the other, nourishing the fundamental need of the human being to physical contact, gives joy and well-being to those who practice it, reconnects man to his creativity and the primordial dimension of the game.