Remember the old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought him back?” I’ve been reviewing lately my relationship to curiosity. Not the type of invasive curiosity that compelled my mom to steam open all my letters from my boyfriends and then glue them back to make it look like she hadn’t done it. No, not the type that says, “I just can’t stand not knowing.” And I’m also not talking about the type of curiosity that some people have where they ask the questions that are really none of their business, just because they want the thrill of knowing or being able to pass the information along. The type of curiosity I’m talking about has to do with changing my own perspective on things. Here’s two examples from my own life that I’ve experienced in the last month.
As some of you may recall from a previous blog, I got an email from a friend in Copenhagen, early this year, saying she had connected with me in her meditation and felt that it was important that I come to visit. I was aware of a lot of resistance……i.e. “I’m almost 76, do I really want to do any more international travel?” But I promised her I would take the question into my own meditation. When I did, I was suddenly infused with an energy that felt warrior-like, strong, and invincible. There was no hesitation, of course I could do this. What’s the big deal? So based on nothing more than that I made my plans. As it turned out the plans evolved into me promising to give 3 presentations at the local Theosophical Society. As the day of departure drew closer I became aware of my own internal anxiety voice, “What if I can’t sleep? How will I give a presentation if I’m sleep deprived? What about jet lag? What if it’s too much for my friend to put me up for 10 days? Will I drive her crazy? As soon as I recognized this old habitual internal negative loop, I paused to consider, “How would my perceptions about this trip change if I just became curious? What if I said to myself, “I’m curious about how this is going to turn out. How will it all unfold? I wonder how the plane ride will be? It will be interesting to see if I make all my connections.” Immediately I began to feel excitement instead of anxiety. I realize this is not rocket science. Many spiritual, psychological, and philosophical traditions espouse this form of inquiry as a way to work with emotional states, as in, “hmmmm, I am afraid. Ok, I’ll just notice my fear, allow it to be there, hold it in compassion and gently be curious about it, exploring it with tenderness.” This takes us out of the total identification with the feeling and lets us get to know our fear so we can recognize it more quickly when it reappears. I’ve known this approach for awhile, but just this month I’ve actually put it into practice. What happened? Well amazingly everything went so smoothly I was pretty blown away by it all. My friend and I were like two peas in a pod, compatible in so many ways and we thoroughly enjoyed each day together. The talks were very well received. I slept fairly well with little jet lag. I’m not saying that this all occurred because of my attitude, but everything became much more enjoyable, manageable and smooth, because I wasn’t anxious or projecting my fears into everything.
The second incident occurred when I attended a Tom Kenyon workshop a day after returning from Copenhagen. Tom is a world renowned sound healer and I have attended many of his workshops in the past, but this day I was a bit jet lagged, so half way into the first day I became agitated. It’s true we had done some clearing work so I’m sure that played a part in it, but my mind went to, “Is he ever going to stop talking and just get on with it? Maybe this was a mistake. I probably shouldn’t have tried to squeeze this in so close to returning from my trip.” You get the picture. The old negative loop again. I really did want to participate and I wanted to be open and receptive to whatever needed to happen so I didn’t want this negativity to override my intention. Then I remembered curiosity. What if I just came into the next day with a curious mind, instead of a negative mind set? “I wonder what this day will bring? How will it unfold?” I didn’t have any more agitation and the second day proved to be a powerful experience. He talked about the heart being as light as a feather instead of heavy and burdened. I could relate to that because when I am worried or anxious I can feel anything but light. I wondered how I could help my heart become lighter. One thing that came to me was to begin my day with curiosity. Sometimes in the morning before I get up I run through my “to do” list in my head. Not exactly a light-hearted way to begin my day. Often I try to remember to start my day with gratitude for just another day that I’m alive and breathing. But what if I made a habit of beginning my day with the curiosity question? “I wonder what today will bring? How will it unfold?” I can feel the visceral reaction in my body when I do this. There is a fluttering in my heart, an excitement, an anticipation that does make my heart feel lighter. I’m going with that.
PS. The more I practice using this the more it comes into my mind throughout the day. So I have begun asking that question for every little thing. “I wonder how my walk will be today? I’m curious about my meditation this morning. How will it unfold? What will the trip to PCC be like? Somehow this practice energizes me and I walk around with more of a feeling of excitement and anticipation. At this age, of almost 76, anything that enlivens me and lightens my heart is well worth the effort.
In a Charlie Brown/Snoopy cartoon I have on my refrigerator, Snoopy says to Charlie, “What if today we were just grateful for everything?” I’d like to add, “What if today we were just curious about everything?”