How to Practice Curiosity for Mindfulness
Curiosity is the basis of all true learning, so it makes sense that you need it for mindfulness. Einstein was a master of curiosity. He thought curiosity is an essential part of a fulfilling life. Einstein is quoted as saying: ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.
One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.’
If you’re curious, you want to find out something new – you want to gain some new knowledge. A curious person is fully connected with her senses. If you’re curious, you look around intently and earnestly, to see something you haven’t seen before. You ask lots and lots of questions, both of yourself and others.
These can be questions like, ‘Why is the sky blue?’ or, ‘Why is that shadow over there faint, whereas this one is much darker?’ Or it may be questions about yourself, like, ‘I wonder why I feel tired after eating X’ or, ‘Where do thoughts come from?’ or, ‘What happens to the feeling of frustration if I try to feel it in the body and breathe into it?’
Bringing curiosity to your mindfulness practice is especially helpful. In fact, with curiosity, mindfulness automatically arises – you naturally begin to pay attention, and with a sense of wonder, to notice what’s happening.
Take the example of thought – if you’re really curious about the types of thought that you have over a period of ten minutes, you pay attention and watch thoughts in your mind as best you can. If your curiosity is genuine, you’ll probably keep watching those thoughts until that curiosity is satisfied.
How can you develop curiosity in meditation? Start by asking questions. Here are some questions you can ask yourself before a meditation to get you started. Then, try to come up with some of your own.
What happens if I meditate every day for 20 minutes for four weeks, whether I feel like it or not?
What effect occurs if I put more effort into my meditation? What if I put in less effort?
What if I sit or lie down really still, even if I have the urge to move – what happens then?
Where in the body do I feel positive emotions? Where do I feel negative ones? What shape and colour do the emotions have, if any?
What effect does having a gentle smile whilst meditating have on my practice?
There are thousands of questions you could ask. Ask yourself a question and investigate. Feed your curiosity and see what you discover. Allow your curiosity to spread from your meditation practice to your day-to-day living. Become curious about your thoughts, emotions and physical sensations rather than just ignoring them, or trying to instantly change them.
Meditation is like a laboratory, where you come up with ideas, observe, watch, see what happens and perhaps draw conclusions. Keep asking yourself questions. Meditation gives the opportunity to find out about yourself and the workings of your own mind and heart, and when you understand that, you understand not only yourself, but everyone else, because everyone has essentially the same processes going on.