Sunday, 10 March 2013

Curiosity didn't necessarily kill the cat!

I was lucky enough to go to a mindfulness practice day on Saturday and have the opportunity to do various mindfulness activities throughout the day.   It was during a discussion that I realised how easy it is to forget the basics!!  The person leading the sessions discussed how sometimes we can focus on goals in meditation and miss the essence of mindfulness.  We all approach meditation with our own in-built issues and personality traits - so for someone like me, who is time-orientated and gets bored easily - my approach is to "do" mindfulness as a task for a set time - then I can complete my task and do all those other things that I need to do.  For others, it might be about persevering and meditating for hours to prove that they have staying power - again, this is perhaps task driven and missing a very vital component to mindfulness.  Curiosity!  If we are just "doing" mindfulness meditation then aren't we missing the point?  It's not necessarily about emptying the mind although if that happens then bonus!  It's about learning about ourselves, what's really going on when we resist a practice or put time limits on it.   If we bring a friendly curiosity to our practice this really opens us up to find out who we really are.  What's behind the boredom or impatience - how would it be to sit with that for a while (Too hard my inner voice is screaming - I can't stand being bored).  And yet, very often when I allow myself the freedom to meditate and be with what's there, when I allow curiosity to get the better of me - it's surprising what I find. 

During the noticing practice on Saturday we were asked to look at a pot of daffodils.  I brought this pot (It was one of mum's mother's day gifts) and I'd seen them on several occasions.  I thought I knew what they looked like but...did I really?  Once I started the practice and having been reminded about bringing a friendly curiosity, I noticed all sorts of different things.  The flowers, instead of a being a "host of golden daffodils" (cheers Wordsworth) became individuals!  I swear they had their own personalities!  I resisted this at first but then the person leading the practice said are you looking at all the daffodils the same or does anyone stand out? - YES! I wanted to shout - that little guy at the front (little guy!! it's a daffodil!!).  What else do you notice he asked. "They're smiling!!"  What?   Daffodils smiling?  Really!  Well they were to me, because I was seeing as if for the first time, with "beginners mind" which is a central tenet in mindfulness.  With practice, this curiosity is something which can help us change our perception of ourselves and the world, breaking patterns of behaviour or rearranging a distorted perspective.  I had forgotten how good it is to be curious because to be curious is to be open - and when we are open to experience the world is a richer more vibrant place.

So from now on I shall try and be more like my cats - bring anything new into the house and they are there - new box - they're in it - new furniture - they're on it, new bag - they wee on it - sorry but they do!  Here's one of my cats being curious .......

and the other who isn't.........


I know who I'd rather be!
So this week I'm going to try and see things with "beginners mind" and enjoy the variety that this will hopefully give me.  Come on.....I bet you're dying to see some smiling daffodils!  I know I am!
Have a great week.


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