5-22-22 Curiosity


“Let your curiosity be greater than your fear.” –Pema Chodron

Curiosity:  To discover, question and to be open to what arises; concern, interest, wonderment.

Antonyms:  Apathy, close-mindedness, disregard, indifference, unconcern, opinion.

Scientific process:  The scientific method is for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. The scientific method, the method wherein inquiry regards itself as fallible (don’t believe everything you think), and purposely tests itself and corrects and improves itself. To seek truth depends on a viewpoint that is unlimited.

“Curiosity is one of the great secrets of happiness. I don’t think I’d be alive if it weren’t for my curiosity.” — BryantH. McGil.  “For me, curiosity has brought a kind of ‘fun’ and ‘enchantment’ to an otherwise bleak, painful, and seemingly hopeless period in my life…Ultimately, curiosity is what allows us to become knowledgeable about ourselves. In some ways, this painful time in my life was the best thing to happen to me…Most importantly, my curiosity—that desire to keep questioning, to keep finding something new, an opening, a possibility, kept my eye on positive change.” – Caroline van Kimmenade, www.tinybuddha.com

My addicted mind was neither open nor inquisitive. It embraced fear, confusion and separation from anything that would not indulge my need to hide. In recovery, I’ve progressed to a more joyous, open and engaged way of life. Now, I make plans and work to achieve goals, and am more able to be flexible and accepting of what IS, rather than bemoaning what I don’t get and pointing the finger at others who have denied me “my rightful _____.” I can question what I am feeling, and often am stirred to laugh at myself.  I can decide to relax and continue letting the light in. It takes curiosity to find that magic, and it often finds its expression in humor. 

As Regina Brett observes, “Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.” It’s true that we often take many things too seriously. From the things we have on our to-do lists—shopping, appointments, meetings, getting online, work—to our recovery, our spiritual life, our very selves. What we’re doing, what we need to do, what we aren’t doing. If we can look at things with a bit more lightness and openness, maybe ask a few questions, we generate a sense of acceptance and also keep our options more flexible. We feel freer and more engaged with life, more willing to take action with intelligence and acceptance, instead of slogging through with resentment.

Being serious and demanding is wrapped up with feelings of fear and tightness, a need to force and control. We can automatically blame someone else when something is “wrong.” We are then engaging our entitled, judgmental, small self. This sets up a confined view that smothers our life energies. Curiosity is allowing ourselves to be open to ambiguity. It is enjoying the mixture of form and emptiness, worldly and spiritual, knowing and not-knowing. It means actively seeking uncertainty. It is inviting things to be as they are, and dancing with them. We soften our boundaries, we are patient, and we allow wonderment.

Curiosity is a natural part of being human. Look at young children and the wonder they find in the world. As adults, we have replaced much of our natural curiosity with fears we have learned socially and personally. What would it be like to not feel fear? We tighten up in so many situations that we become very used to a defense or avoidance behavior and think it is normal (and necessary). We can have fear and impatience around going into the store, meeting people, taking a new class, driving, worrying what others think of us, being out of our favorite food, etc., etc., etc. There are many small things that tend to program us. But when we engage Curiosity, fear begins to fade away into the illusory mist that it is.

Not-knowing, being curious, is uncomfortable because it is a kind of emptiness. We try to fill that emptiness by jumping to conclusions. Once we have an opinion, we don’t need to wonder any longer—the matter is closed. Those fixed ideas about ourselves, about others, and about the relationship between self and other are what stop curiosity, create distance and misunderstandings. What would it be like to recognize a negative behavior beginning to arise and choose to be open and curious instead? A breath of fresh air, opening, engaging and growing. Can you say hello to that person you don’t really like ? Can you engage in not returning negativity, but be curious about what a “kind: reply would do? Not needing any certain response, the kindness is it’s own reward. You are choosing your state of mind, not lettting another or a circumstance determine your sense of peace or aggitation.

Curiosity, in order to be part of the path, has to be coupled with patience and humor. Patience acts as a kind of ballast, keeping the mind grounded, giving a solidity to what we’re doing, and preventing curiosity from zipping away too fast, saying this must be this, and that must be that.  Patience makes sure we go through the steps. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop aspiring to learn and grow. 

We can choose; be habitual or be curious. We can feel the tightness of forcing, blaming or needing something to go a certain way. We then engage the breath, 3 times slowly, and let our curiosity come forth. A fresh breath of life and various possibilities present themselves.

In our meditation practice, it’s useful to develop a sense of curiosity about where the sensations of the breathing end. On his website Wildmind Meditation, Buddhist teacher and practitioner Bodhipaksa observes, “We notice so little of the breathing process that the mind’s actually bored, and we find that lots of thoughts are arising to fill the vacuum in our experience. But if we start exploring what’s around those token sensations with a sense of curiosity and openness, then we’re starting to pay attention to ‘the breathing’ and not just a token representation of it. And as we notice more of the breathing, then the mind’s less bored. It’s actually quite interested! And often our attention is so full of the sensations of the breathing that there’s no room in there for thinking, and the mind becomes quiet…It’s worth emphasizing as well that this exploration needs to be done in a spirit almost of playfulness and wonder. It’s not a checklist…”

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein

“One can remain alive… if one is unafraid of change, insatiable in intellectual curiosity,
interested in big things, and happy in small ways.” — Edith Wharton

How do you fill your bucket? One drop at a time

The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step

The great arises out of small things that are honored and cared for
May you be well. May you be happy. May you find peace.

Heart Of Recovery website: fcheartofrecovery.com