What Is Shoshin and How Can It Help Porphyria Patients?

Brian Murphy, Ph.D. avatar

by Brian Murphy, Ph.D. |

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If you are living with porphyria, shoshin may be able to change the way in which you view your life and your disease.

What is shoshin?

Shoshin is an idea that comes from Zen Buddhism and means “beginner’s mind.” It is a concept of keeping your mind open to amazement and exploration, much like a child naturally does.

When children begin something brand new, they approach it with an eagerness to learn and take in new information. Even for adults, new concepts or ideas may fill us with wonder and curiosity. That, in turn, gives us enthusiasm and a willingness to try new things or to do things in new ways.

However, as we get older and more experienced, we tend to develop preconceived notions about how things work or how things should be done.

Shoshin teaches to see life in a new light that could bring more joy and fulfillment.

How can shoshin help me?

There are no direct studies about the potential benefits of shoshin in patients with porphyria. But a study by Swiss researchers investigated the effects of mind-body medicine on chronic disease. The results showed that using a beginner’s mind, coupled with traditional medicine, could help reduce anxiety and depression.

Shoshin also may help you be open to trying new activities or treatments. By keeping an open mind, you will be less likely to jump to conclusions, based on previous events, about whether something won’t work or won’t be enjoyable.

A beginner’s mind can help you let go of notions of how your life should or could have turned out and guide you in embracing your current situation.

You also may find that shoshin increases your creativity. With a greater sense of exploration and curiosity, you may be less confined by ideas of how you thought things should be done or ways others have done things in the past.

The Zen-based practice also may help you form stronger connections with friends and family members. Focusing on what they are saying during conversations and seeing what information you can learn from them, rather than focusing on what you are going to say next, can help deepen your connection with them and potentially lead to more meaningful conversations.

How do I begin?

There are a number of different areas that you can focus on while developing a beginner’s mind.

Shoshin can begin as easily as changing your mindset while performing everyday tasks such as eating a meal. Try these steps at one of your next mealtimes:

Take time to really focus and appreciate all of the pieces of food on your plate. Notice the different colors and textures present. Enjoy the different aromas and see if you can pick out the distinct seasonings or spices. When you take a bite, let the food linger on your tongue and notice all of the different flavors. By focusing on these small things, you may redevelop a sense of wonder and excitement about everyday things that we often take for granted.

You also can add more play to your daily tasks. At that next meal, you could arrange your food into a face or work of art. While doing the laundry you could practice your basketball free throws. Adding play to your daily chores can help them be more enjoyable and go faster.


Last updated: March 9, 2021


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