I have been immersing myself in the psycho-spiritual practice of being consciously curious for close to 10 years now, and I am beginning to experience some real dividends. By this, I mean that I am recognizing that I’m approaching life from a different perspective, and the quality of my life feels so much gentler, grounded, creative, kind, compassionate and playful, and I am making choices about how to fill my days from a more deliberate, grounded (there’s that word again!) stance. I want to share a bit of my process and journey with you.
I don’t know about you, but I learned quite early in life (since birth?!!??!) that in order to survive, I needed to be defensive. Until I began studying for my master’s degree in Jewish Studies in 2014, I rigidly and quite unconsciously maintained a defensive stance. I was/am hardly alone. Hardly. Until very recently in human history, our sole prerogative has been almost exclusively focused on survival. Think about it. From an evolutionary perspective, we spent whole epochs fending off animals that would hunt, kill, and eat us! Until a relative second ago, humans have had to focus on building shelter by hand (historians say that the Industrial Revolution didn’t dawn until 1760). The advent of what we would call modern psychology didn’t begin until 1854 (that turning point occurred in Leipzig Germany, when Gustav Fechner created the first theory of how judgments about sensory experiences are made and how to experiment on them; thank you, Wikipedia!). Granted, for at least several millennia we had all sorts of philosophical and religious understandings of how life and humans worked and were governed. I personally understand there to be great psycho-spiritual truths found in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, notwithstanding the ways that some groups (White Europeans) have used those great books to justify subjugating and lording over vast swaths of humanity (that’s for another blog). The Hebrew (and therefore large parts of the Christian) Bible date back to 4000 BCE, give or take a few centuries, so these truths and understandings of human nature have been with us for a long time. But until we began farming on massive scales; created machines so we could sew our clothing together quickly and efficiently; and created massively large machines to assist us in building our homes and shelters quickly, who had time to focus on “our inner world”? We as a species have spent most of our energy focused on conquering the outer world that we can see. The great hidden truths were always there, but who really had the time, energy, or the psychic space to contemplate them?
Now’s the time; it must be the time! And if you could not find the time, for many folks, myself included, COVID-19 forced us into alone time. Here’s (partially) what happened to me. A job I’d held for close to five years abruptly ended. Then my mother, who had been on hospice care and quite ill for several years, died. In many ways, my life grounded to a halt. My husband and I decided that this was a good time to start paying attention to the parts of our marriage that had been problematic for us; namely, our communication patterns! And I decided personally that it was time to focus on the music that I had always wanted to pursue. Because I was indoors all the time, not constantly on the move, I noticed something: I began to be curious. Why hadn’t I pursued music the way I thought I had wanted to? Why was it so easy for me to blame my spouse for every bad, uncomfortable, or unpleasant feeling I had? Why did I think that everyone’s else’s dreams could come true, but not mine? Why did the same nagging thoughts go ricocheting round and round in my mind? When we get curious about something, we need to slow down, to pay attention to it.
Slowing down is a huge component of living a life of conscious spirituality. We must slow down to notice our breath. We must slow down so that we can notice our thoughts. We must slow down to listen to the still small voice that guides us to our highest good. It is helpful be curious about that voice. What are we being guided to do, to say, to express? What actions are we guided to take that bring love and healing to the world? What actions are we guided to take that bring love and healing to ourselves? Holy curiosity leads us to be deep listeners. I discovered that by listening deeply to different parts of myself, I have been able to release some deeply held trauma. And in the releasing, I am a kinder spouse. I am more connected to the music that wants to express through me. I am not so afraid.
Invite holy curiosity into your life. When you hit a bump in the road, don’t curse the bump! Think of the bump as Spirit’s way to get you to slow down and be curious about it. You just may find yourself asking the bump, “why are you here? What is slowing down getting me to notice? Why do I get angry about a bump? Why can’t I remain calm in the face of interruption (bumps)? These questions stem from curiosity, and curiosity is what leads us into deeper relationship with ourselves, with those around us, and with the Divine.