The Wisdom Blog: Classic & Contemporary Buddhism

4 ways to be more curious

by Carolyn Hobbs
May 13, 2015
Wed, 05/13/2015 - 10:00 -- Carolyn Hobbs

1. Cultivate the Art of Curiosity

Ask yourself several times a day, “How am I reacting now?” The instant you ask, you witness rather than stay lost in the reaction. Follow up with “How am I and loved ones suffering by my reaction?” During your commute to work, exercise routine, or morning meditation, just ask the question, breathe deep, and listen for an image, feeling-sense, or word. Listen compassionately, free of any judgment toward yourself or the answer. As you grow more familiar with your reactions, you will be better equipped to nip them in a few seconds.

2. Deepen Curiosity with Simple Questions

Ask, “Which unconscious feeling fuels my current story or reaction?” After you ask, pause while taking several deep breaths, and listen patiently. Other times, think of a situation when you typically react strongly, and peek underneath to name the feeling fueling it. When pain or illness arises, notice ego’s first reaction, then ask, “How would I like to respond now to my symptom?” Invite answers free of judgment.

3. Identify Which Part of You Is Reacting Personally

Whenever strong feelings visit, ask, “Which part of me inside is afraid, sad, lonely, or scared of getting hurt again?” If ego pops up, notice its reaction and set it down. If your young self is reacting, offer loving reassurance without hiding under the bed with them. Consider yourself “in training” to stay open and curious without taking yourself, and your issues, too seriously. Such questions as “How does my ego react when I feel uncomfortable or out of control?” or “How is my young, immature, inner self sabotaging my love relationship?” or “What great lesson is my symptom teaching me here?” bring deeper awareness and choice. The more curiosity you bring to daily life, the more playful, flexible, and joyful you will feel.

4. Practice the New Relationship Game, “Being a Human Being in a Body Without Reacting Personally,” with Family and Friends

Bring this “curiosity game” into your relationship. Set aside twenty minutes, and sit facing each other. Invite yourselves to close your eyes, choose an issue that repeatedly upsets you two, and then answer the following questions: “What story am I telling myself now?” After you confess your inner story to each other, ask, “How do I react?” “How does my reaction cause us suffering?” “What is this repeated issue asking me to accept or let go of?” Treat the vulnerable answers that arise with tenderness, free of judgment, teasing, or joking. Sharing inner feelings transfuses your relationship with fresh, vibrant joy and aliveness.

Categories and Tags