Our mindfulness training teaches us the importance of being in the moment and to be curious. This week I had an intense, unexpected lesson in curiosity.
My 5 year old grandson teaches me many things – but most of all, he teaches me how to view the world with the curiosity of a child, and to be in the moment. He came to stay with me for a few days last week and we did some fun stuff together. You wouldn’t think it, but this taught me a lot and showed me that I can have a tendency to be a bit too serious at times.
First of all we went free jumping. Basically, it’s a place with lots of trampolines which you can bounce on and jump from one to another. My grandson can do tricks while he jumps. As soon as I stood on one of the trampolines, I felt a great fear rise up. I felt a bit wobbly and nervous in my body. Thankfully, through my mindfulness and insight training, I was able to recognise the fear and where it came from. Suddenly I was transported back in time to being at school.
At the time I was belittled by a teacher for my sporting inabilities. This created an innate fear of making a fool of myself or not being good enough in anything sport related. In fact, just the word ‘rounders’ will see me running!! I’ve carried this habitual thinking from my subliminal mind for 50 years!
So, there I was on this trampoline feeling a little unsteady while all the children and other grandparents and parents were happily bouncing away like kangaroos all over the place.
I could understand what was happening while it was happening, and I had a choice. Continue to let the fear take over or let go and recognise that I wasn’t going to make a fool of myself. Even if I did, that didn’t matter and it didn’t mean that I’m not good enough!
I started bouncing – in the moment – it was all I had – it was fun – I could feel my confidence growing – I bounced higher and higher – I could feel my heart beating faster – slightly out of breath – endorphins kicked in – and I felt good. Very good. I started to laugh. The absurdity of what I was doing, my mind and life itself. How I so very often get in my own way!
I was in the moment, just me, my grandson and the trampolines.
The next day my grandson had a lesson in falconry. He goes every week. He has to wear a huge leather falconry glove. His little hand totally lost inside it. He extends his arm waiting for the hawk or owl to land. The birds are almost half his size. Yet he is fearless, and I can see his pure joy and love for these creatures. Again, we are totally in the moment. No other thoughts are distracting me. Here we are in the presence of these powerful raptors. They fly close over our heads. We can feel the air from their wings on our heads. We learn about their feathers, behaviours and what it means to have brown, orange or yellow eyes.
We go on a ‘hawk walk’. A hawk flies from person to tree to person to tree as we walk in the countryside. We are both curious about what will happen.
To be in the moment with other creatures makes me feel joy. I also feel grateful for the moment and the experience. We are both smiling. It feels so good to be connected with nature and its raw simplicity.
Our third mindful adventure involves a visit to the science museum in London. They have something called the ‘Wonderlab’!! Here there are dozens of scientific experiments you can interact with.
A bit like sport, I didn’t have a good relationship with science at secondary school (I didn’t quite ‘get it). This left me, once again, feeling a little inadequate. But here, you can learn, just because it’s fun and because you have curiosity. Curiosity plays a major part here. What happens if… you press this button… pull this rope… put your hand here…. stand on this place… touch the switch…blow…touch…
The rewards are endless as lightning is made, steam makes rings in the air, rainbows appear and we explore the science of friction, forces, orbits and chemistry.
My grandson has no knowledge of science. Here his curiosity is working full time and the reward is sheer joy as he discovers something new. It makes him happy. It inspires me to examine my daily life and practice. Obviously being at the museum is exciting and fun because we are rewarded with an outcome of our curiosity.
I feel like I have had a week’s training in curiosity. Is it possible I can be rewarded by applying this same curiosity in life?
All this week I have reminded myself to be curious about what is happening, how I feel, how my subliminal mind wants to react, my thoughts, distractions and life itself.
As a result, I notice more. I am more aware of the habitual programmes running in my mind. Events come and go and each time I take myself out of autopilot and notice what is going on and respond accordingly.
It leaves me more peaceful. I find I am more in control of my mind, rather than my mind controlling me. I notice that I am more accepting of what is. I am questioning the habitual thoughts and asking myself if they are true.
Curiosity is one of the basics of our mindfulness practice and yet I have found it has led to deep insights.
Most of I learn how to let go, be joyful and have fun, in the moment. After all – this is all I have.
I invite you to be curious about activities in your life this week. Can you view your world with the eyes of a child and a sense of curiosity, as if looking at things for the first time? See what arises and unfolds and how it makes you feel. Notice any insights you have and whether you can set an intention to be more curious and joyful.
I’d love to hear your stories. Please share by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment after this post.
Wishing you a curious and joyful week.
Jacky will be co-teaching Level 1 – Being Present with Alan Hughes at Samye Ling 13 – 15 March 2020 and on the Level 2 – Responding with Compassion with Heather Regan-Addis at Samye Ling starting 5-7 June 2020.
We’d love to see you there.
Jacky has contributed a chapter to the Mindful Heroes Book entitled “Turning Empathic Distress into Compassion – A Hero’s Journey for Family Carers”. You can hear an extract from the chapter where she talks about the results of her MSc Studies in Mindfulness on Compassion & Family Carers.
Come Practice With Us.