Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Curiosity

What do you experience when you "practice mindfulness"? When you "try" to be "more aware"? I don't mean, what kind of sense objects appear to your senses; but rather, what is the mood of body-mind experienced in the act of "being mindful"?

Some people describes being mindful as a relaxing state. They speak of feeling "at one" with everything around them, without anxiety or worry. An absence of ego or self.

Others speak about mindfulness in a way that betrays a hint of effortful caution. They describe "catching" their thoughts in awareness, in order not to be "swept away" by thinking. Is there a sense here that our own thoughts are a threat to be guarded against? Is mindfulness a state of alertness or relaxation?

I don't suggest that any of this is wrong. I don't suggest that it's right. In relaxation, there is awareness. In alertness, there is awareness. And in curiosity, there is awareness. Curiosity is not often mentioned in meditation teachings, but it's a very useful game to play with our experience of awareness.

When thoughts arise, curiosity doesn't stop them arising. It doesn't try to catch them. It's just curious about what they say, about the feeling-tone which they bring to the body.

And when there is anxiety, or guarded watchfulness, curiosity doesn't see anxiety or caution as a problem. It just sees the body-mind trying to cope with the present moment as best it can. Curiosity has no better ideas on how to cope. It's just curious about what this moment of coping feels like.

And when there is relaxation, curiosity is curious about what relaxing feels like.

Curiosity has no agenda, it doesn't form judgments. It doesn't have opinions. It isn't the answer to anything. It doesn't prefer relaxing to coping.

Curiosity involves no effort, no trying to "be curious". Rather, when you set aside your own agenda for a few moments, you might find curiosity starts to arise spontaneously.

Curiosity is playful. It has no timetable, and you don't win anything. You play with it for a while and then put it away again, knowing you can go back to it. And you just get to see how that is.