… is a very uplifting and empowering tool as an attitude towards every experience and challenge in life. Only a poem can come near to do justice to this life-expanding gift of our inner spirit. For this reason, I share with you the poem by Teryn O’Brien below. Before that, I explain what it is, and how to use it, be it for oneself, for life, for coaching, or for teaching.
What is enlightening curiosity?
Enlightening curiosity is the natural unbiased curiosity that is so easy to see in young children. It is a gift from Spirit that is planted within each of us. This curiosity is more than a meditative contemplation. It is an active hunger for understanding. It searches. It is a childlike wonder. It asks questions and not only intellectually. It ponders and gauges with all senses.
There’s a huge difference between being childlike and being childish. When we embrace joy and look at the world with fresh eyes we’re being childlike. It is the beginner’s mind from mindfulness attitudes. When we demand from others instant gratification and a guarantee that everything will be ok, we’re only being childish.
True childlike wonder flows in a dance of life that is the result of the dualistic tension between the conscious and unconscious reality. This curiosity can aim both for the internal and the external experience of reality who, ultimately, are not separate. It operates on the unique interface between the inner source of life and the universal life that is imagined outside oneself through the boundaries of self-definitions and belief systems.
Led by its innate curiosity, our inner childlike spirit is always actively exploring life inside, and outside of that self-defined boundary. It desires to penetrate all boundaries with awareness and look, feel, hear, smell, and taste beyond. In the space-time dimensions, this thirst for expanding awareness leads to knowledge, skill, and expertise. On the multidimensional level of integral awareness, the true nature of things (and no-things) are progressively included in awareness at the still point of the Neutral Observer. The process of enlightenment can be seen as the discovery that boundary is an illusion.
How do we apply enlightening curiosity?
This interrogative aliveness is not to be confused with the inner critic.
Enlightening curiosity focuses on the natural flow of life in the now point and asks, “What’s here now?” It invites awareness into all dimensions that are accessible for our physical, psychological, extra-sensory, and supra-sensory senses. For long-term IP practitioners, this field of integral awareness can become very wide. In consensus reality, it can mean, for example, that you notice the temperature of the air on your skin, the emotion of surprise about the facial expression of your partner, a thought that turns into a judgment, an awkward feeling in the stomach, the pleasure of seeing a smile, and so on.
When we are not in the mindfulness attitudes (beginner’s mind, open mind, enlightening curiosity, …) our mind can easily be hijacked by the inner critic. Then the mind becomes a running commentary on, “I don’t like this, I like that, I hate that, I love this”. Every sensation of life is immediately evaluated through dualistic judgments of likes and dislikes: “I like the taste of this ice cream, I dislike my body shape, I don’t like my dislike, I shouldn’t dislike, I shouldn’t be judgmental, I should be appreciative all the time. How come I’m not kind right now? What is wrong with me? What’s wrong with you?” etc.
Just throwing out judgments only hardens the dualistic tension and the field of awareness narrows more and more. The inner critic is almost the opposite of the enlightening curiosity although it may present itself as important and necessary. This is a complete lie! It is way more useful to replace the inner critic with enlightening curiosity. By replacing it over and over again, you can free yourself of it.
You can start at the simplest level. What is going on here and now? What is that sensation in my arm? Is there an emotion connected to that sensation? What am I telling myself? What do I see, feel, hear, taste, smell, think, want? ” These are all useful questions in consensus reality. With repetition, you will soon automatically move into deeper levels of curiosity such as, “Who am I now? Which part of me is expressing now? Which part is hidden? Where is the rest of me?
As the process of enlightening curiosity within is developed, it is able to hold focus longer. Its focus also becomes broader and more encompassing. For long-term IP practitioners, the integral awareness questions can expand into: “What is my energy field doing right now? How is my alignment at this moment? How is my cellular awareness affected by my dentist’s appointment? What is my Higher Self thinking about this problem? What is that spiritual expansion that I am chilling into? What is that dark energy around my liver? What will make my soul sing today?”
You can do this for yourself, as much as you can do this for a coaching or healing client. It is extremely valuable to hold a space of Integral Presence for someone that is delicately enhanced with enlightening curiosity. However, it is important to ask “What?” questions and to avoid “Why?” questions. “Why?” questions lead towards intellectualization and the coachee will narrow awareness into thinking about the experience instead of penetrating consciousness into the experience. “What?” question invites awareness to embrace to object of attention.
“It is about being IN life rather than telling a story about life :Jan Janssen – mindfulness+ guided meditation 4/4
sometimes we have maybe half a second of perception, and our mind is already 10 seconds active building a story around that short perception.
The invitation is to come from story to reality “
When you hold this process for another person, either professionally or for a friend, this skill requires you to be able to be aware of the continuum of the flow inside and outside of both yourself and the other person. You must ask yourself for both of you: “What is here now?” And you must stay open for your personal inner answers while you hold a caring witnessing space for the answers of the other. It is a wonderful life skill for both personal and professional life.
The challenge of developing enlightening curiosity within us is learning to let go of any thread of investment or any attachment to a certain outcome. It is a total surrender to the purity of unconditional curiosity. The process requires an absolute love for truth. It takes courage to question one’s reality on the deepest of levels. The quest of knowing the self, the other, life, and the universe has no limits.
Jan Janssen, June 20th 2020.
Life! by Teryn O’Brien
I felt cold,
passing me by.
I was a prisoner
the buzz, buzz,
of never-ending business—
in the dimness of
I forgot Life
is not a schedule,
I forgot Life
is not an iPhone,
I forgot Life
is not a jail.
And then the Light—
it hits like a great comet
warming our weary hearts.
A shattering, a splintering,
leaving us reeling
Light illuminating Life
in all its complex glory.
Life, life, life—
Life so glorious,
See, you see,
my heart, it came alive
what once was dying now stirred.
I’d forgotten leaves shine sharp against the sky—
a hundred different humming sounds play within a meadow—
the gliding river’s foam glistens in sunlight—
trees whisper secrets, clapping joyfully to a wind-filled song.
I’d forgotten frogs perch on lily pads,
birds weave nests for their young,
that rainbows rise in waterfalls,
and dew drops dawn
on grass blades
every new morning!
Children’s elementary lessons
hold the very foundation of Being.
Oh my Life,
You are beyond my reach,
farther than the sky,
mightier than the mountains,
vast as the ocean.
You are every Song a thousand times over,
You are eternity and every second.
You are in the smallest yellow-spiked caterpillar—
red-haired fox sniffing dirt roads—
blue-feathered bird trailing insects—
And I want to trail along with them!
Gazing towards the sky
like a five year-old-child
oblivious to dead-eyed people,
yelling at the top of my voice:
“Life, Life, Life!”
So others, join with me!
Let Light shatter you—
and find the Life.
We will watch each cloud take shape,
laughing a million times at the sun winking through trees,
sprinting wild down mountain paths
to take the next corner
—and the next! and the next!—
We will sip Life wine down by the dregs,
dancing in lowlights,
skipping below stars.
Oh my Life,
never let Us slumber again!
Fight this battle for wonder and aliveness
so We can’t stop from singing,
faces from glowing,
minds from dreaming.