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What Is the Shoshin Approach? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Zen Gardening Post Prompts Mostly Positive Response—For a Change

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed off her gardening skills on Twitter over the weekend, partly pinning her success to a concept known as Shoshin.

“Garden planting success!” the representative for New York tweeted alongside a photo of thriving flowers, vegetables and herbs. “This is my first time trying a garden like this, so let’s see how it goes. Shoshin approach,” the freshman congresswoman wrote, before giving a shout-out to a Washington, D.C. gardening store who gave her “lots of guidance.”

Shoshin is a concept with its roots in Zen Buddhism, which roughly translates to "beginner’s mind" and celebrates the fresh perspective those with little experience bring to a situation. This is arguably what one might expect Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow freshman class to bring to Congress. 

Shunryu Suzuki, a Sōtō Zen monk who helped to spread the ideas of Zen Buddhism in the U.S., wrote in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation and Practice, according to Inc.: "In the Beginner's Mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few."

The congresswoman, whose tweets and unconventional approach to politics often draw ire from her opponents, largely garnered positive, wholesome comments beneath her post. In recent weeks, for instance, conservatives accused her of changing her accent to relate to minority groups.

“I love how, for the most part, most of the responses to this tweet are so positive and supportive and full of great advice for Gardner’s! Warms my ice cold heart,” wrote one Twitter user.

Others chimed in with their gardening success and failures. "I just lost a bunch of horsetail reeds. Gardening is tough,” wrote The Young Turks host John Iadarola‏.

“My preschool class and I planted 5 tomato plants last year. Accidentally grew HUNDREDS of tiny tomatoes. Good luck,” another user said, punctuating their post with five red tomato emojis.

“Here's mine. I'm stuck in an apartment so its planters for now,” one user said, sharing a photo of her flowering daffodils.

Another tweeted a photo of her flourishing chard plant. “Here is my Bright Lights Chard by my lettuces,” she wrote.

Some users offered gardening advice to Ocasio-Cortez. “Do you have a balcony?” asked a Twitter user. “If so, you can actually plant a looot of fruits and vegetables like tomatoes from pots. Even stuff that you would think needs more room like corn and watermelons.”

This is not the first time youngest congresswoman in U.S. history, famed for connecting with her supporters on social media, has shared her hobbies online. In March, she enlisted the help of her followers to buy a chair for her apartment in Washington, D.C..

And last year she argued that Congress doesn’t have enough money to “write laws properly”— all while filming herself making coconut shrimp.

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