Curious. . .
Curiosity is a willingness to experience without looking away, ignoring, or denying. Curiosity is using our attention to have an experience as it is directly.
Curiosity works hand in hand with mindfulness. Curiosity is using our attention to have an experience as it is directly, without judgement – think on that; when something is beautiful or captures your attention the first thing you do is not ask why, but to simply take it in. Asking why can be useful, but it can also lead to narratives and stories about our experience, and that can prevent us from actually having a direct experience, and seeing it for what it is, which is a necessary first step for working with what arises. When we can see what’s happening for real, then we can take compassionate and wise action to address it in the best way. If we don’t want to see it clearly, if we are unwilling to see the what, then we might employ unskillful ways of trying to meet whatever difficulty is arising. or begin the the practice of avoidance which has gotten many of us off in the wrong direction.
I think of the ways a certain kind of curiosity has driven me, from early days of Why is the sky blue? to teen angst years wondering, Why doesn’t that person like me?! to my overarching quest, as a writer and person, to answer my enduring question: Why am I like this? Mindful curiosity, though, invites me to shift some attention away from the “I” so as to explore the “this” in that last question.
Curiosity asks us to challenge a lot of stories we might have. Curiosity is being able to look at our story to see that it’s true, but it may not be exactly real. Events happened. There’s a truth to our experience. And yet the reality is that there are many ways to tell a story generally and there are many views to that story. Curiosity helps us see those stories in the first place—and that approaching our stories with mindfulness means we don’t have to jump in to fix anything. We don’t have to figure it out. We can allow ourself to be here with interest in what we’re seeing and what’s arising in us and the moment.
At the same time, though, our curiosity has to include a certain softness. We can bring a lightness, and a joyful enthusiasm, to our inquiries. And because there’s nothing to solve, we don’t have to be punitive with our curiosity. If we get overwhelmed, we can back off, or return to our practice when we feel more supported. We can’t take wisdom out of compassion or love out of joy. Curiosity is a certain way of looking with an interest, with enthusiasm, and at the same time, it can’t be just done by itself.
It’s done with compassion.
It’s done with wisdom.
It’s done with patience.
Peace and Love, Jim