Curiosity, an Act of Self Love?

 

“Curiosity is an act of self love.” Whoa! 10625000_10205131255750845_3181629407312370686_n

I was listening to an interview by Geneen Roth, author of “Women, Food and God” and this statement just rolled off her tongue like it was the most apparent thing ever. 

But for me, in that moment, those words hit me light a lightening bolt. I felt like a cartoon character with bulging eyes and almost jumped up and said, “Eureka!” 

Along my journey of figuring out how to live a content, joyous and healthy life, I’ve again and again come back to two big things. 

No matter if the topic is food and diet, relationships and communication, fitness and yoga practice or business and purpose in life — there seems to be a re-occurring theme. It’s almost like the universe is singing her answers to me in a little mantra. 

I ask, “What should I do with my life?”

She answers, “Self reflect, self love.” 

I cry, “My relationship is falling apart, what should I do?”

She answers, “Self reflect, self love.” 

I tell her, “I totally F*#^ed this one up! I’m lost, desperate, shamed.”

She answers, “Self reflect, self love.” 

I say to her, “My body is sick and I don’t understand why.” 

She answers, “Self reflect, self love.” 

OK, ok, I get it. Self reflect, self love.  

Self reflect. 

And so I do my practice. Sometimes is hard. It’s hard to self reflect, to look inward and see what’s there, when what’s there feels dark and uncomfortable. My throat tightens and the fear of facing a thousand writhing monsters that live in the dark places grips me. 

But I do my practice. I breath. I move. I close my eyes, and simply FEEL it all. It’s harder and takes more courage than any epic warrior sequence or crazy upside down balancing posture. This is the yoga that requires my true warrior energy. 

The Yoga Sutras calls this Svadyaya, self study, and lists it as one of five (meaning it’s pretty important) of the personal practices we need to cultivate for health and enlightenment.  

It’s harder still to stick to it. 

To keep looking, keep being curious and keep breathing when the practice of self reflection starts to get uncomfortable. 

A part of me desperately wants to wait and see what’s there and what will happen if I just relax into the sensations and feelings of observing.  

But, another part of me screams, “Save yourself, run away!” convinced that looking at the dark side will break me. Or worse, become me. 

And there in lies the basis of all of my fears — the belief that I am or can become defined by the uncomfortable mistake, terrible experience, sickness, broken heart, confusion, ect. 

The ironic thing is that when we fear looking at the hard stuff because we don’t want it to consume us, the running away from it ends up controlling us. 

We become like bouncy balls ping ponging around a room. Each time we hit a wall we don’t want to look at we go flying in the opposite direction ad infinitum. Our path becomes determined and controlled by our desire to run away.

I’m fiercely independent, and seeing how running away controls me, motivates me to stop and face those walls. 

So I’ll self reflect, but I’m not going to like what I see or love myself for it. 

I tell myself, “Ok Morgan, I’ll look at that ugly wall. Maybe I just need to admit that this is part of me and I’m ugly, just give in to it.” 

At this point a fascinating thing always happens. I look. I see the ugliness — the pain, the shame, the fear, the anger. I stop the ball bouncing and flying, in other words, I stop my mind spinning me out into stories around this thing. I just see it. 

So many sensations come up in my body, in my throat and heart and belly, and in a way it does break me — breaks me out of the cage of stories I had trapped myself in. 

The minute I really stop and simply observe, the self criticism, worry, judgements and projecting also stop — in it’s places comes a sigh (or sob) of self acceptance. And it is the biggest and most wonderful relief ever! 

Self love. 

This is what Roth meant when she said curiosity is an act of self love. When we truly approach ourselves and our lives with curiosity we step into the observer mind, like a child, not judging and criticising, just wondering and watching. 

All of the wisdom traditions of the world teach us the importance of observing objectively and gazing inward, either through meditation, prayer, chanting, ritual or service. And all of them teach this as a path to liberation, or God, which to me are one in the same. 

Every time I stop the stories I’m reminded of who I was before the story. The innocent child born into this world full of light, peace and purity. And every time I remember that self it feels like coming home. It feels like safety and happiness. And I cry out of relief and joy, just like I always have the feeling of crying when I see my mom after being gone for too long. 

I’m reminded that this is not a game of changing who I am, but of coming back to who I’ve always been, and that it never was and never will be those monsters I make up in my head. And then I feel strong. 

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