Being A mindfulness educator I talk to people every other day about bringing their attention to the small moments in their lives. I suggest things such as observe what you are doing, become present to the sensations you feel in this moment and have a sense of curiosity towards what’s going on in this moment. But to be honest this sense of curiosity has been something that has eluded me in my personal practice. My recent realization is that the reason this sense of curiosity has been such an elusive quality to cultivate is simply beacuse I haven’t wanted to be curious.
You see my background with mindfulness came from the awareness teachings from the east such as Zen Buddhism and branches of Hinduism along with my passion for contemporary nonduality. the goal to become aware of ones consciousness is the hallmark of all these teachings. These teachings suggest that for one to become of their true nature they must see through the conditioned identity which some call the ego or persona.
In the last couple of weeks, I have realized that I have used this pulling away from identity or ego as a spiritual bypass. Meaning it has been something that has made feel comfortable believing in When life got hard. When the shit hit the fan i could always brush my personal stresses and trauma under the rug and reconcile that my identity and pain was a false illusion anyway.The last thing I wanted to do was become curious of my self worth issues or past traumas,
I thought mindfulness WAS awareness.
Well, it is! But when it comes to the self-development work of western mindfulness, curiosity is the element that allows us to ask the tuff questions to ourselves like. ‘Why do I think these thoughts when I visit my father’ or ‘why do I react in this way when my partner wants space’. This sort of personal development work wasn’t something I even wanted to consider as it would mean I would have needed to deal with my shit instead of being perfect awareness. One of the reasons why there was this gap in understanding is that eastern teachings use mindfulness to understand mans essential nature which is not the mind but conscious awareness. whereas western mindfulness uses this same inquiry method to understand and learn about oneself.
In A Nutshell:
The difference between western mindfulness and eastern mindfulness is the issue of identity. Eastern teachings aim to dismantle the identity while western mindfulness aims to understand it, accept it and love it.
After having gone through a messy breakup recently I have finally realized why mindfulness educators stress this sense of curiosity and I know why we all don’t want to really be curious. Because its confronting, overwhelming and it takes a good look in the mirror to practice authentic mindfulness. I can now see the gifts curiosity has to give us in our mindfulness practice. This realization is also accompanied by embarrassment and a bit of self-judgment as I’m still scratching my head as to why it has taken me so long to realize this.