Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about curiosity – curious about curiosity, you might say. I have begun to notice how curiosity, has led me into understanding and then made it easier to access compassion.
The first way I noticed the benefits of curiosity was when I learned about becoming an observer of my own feelings. Once I began to observe my feelings objectively (as much as is possible for me), I was able to see them as a phenomenon that I was experiencing. I began to Inquire into the significance of those feelings, rather than getting hooked by them and going down an emotional rabbit hole.
When negative emotions occur, and a soon as I remember to detach from them, I breathe and observe, waiting for them to pass like the clouds. Often that is all that is needed. Other times, the feelings persist. That is when curiosity is so helpful.
What is this feeling? I see that anger is happening. What is behind that feeling? Is it hurt, or embarrassment, or fear? Is it about what is happening now, or is it something that has been triggered by past experiences?Why am I experiencing this feeling right now? Is it really because of what my partner said or did, or is there something else going on?
This attitude of curiosity about my thoughts and feelings has increased my understanding and compassion for myself. That is a beautiful thing to experience.
The other way I have noticed the benefits of curiosity is regarding the behaviour of others. This applies to loved ones as well as strangers.
What might be my partner’s state of mind? What are they feeling and thinking? What motivated them to say or do that? I see that anger is happening. What is behind that feeling? Is it hurt, or embarrassment, or fear? Is it about what is happening now, or is it something that has been triggered by past experiences?
When strangers behave in a disturbing way, can I be curious? Rather than jumping to negative assumptions can I wonder about other explanations? When an irate driver shows road rage, can I wonder about their emotional turmoil and feel compassion?
Try to cultivate curiosity. It can lead you to better understanding and greater compassion for yourself, your loved ones, and strangers too. This is the beautiful alchemy of mindfulness – turning pain into compassion.