I’ve decided to begin a practice of compassionate curiosity. For quite awhile I’ve been seeking to be curious first and foremost. Sometimes it’s easy.
Lots of times it’s hard. At the checkout line, “hmm, what a colorful array of tabloids.” Listening to a political rant, “hmm, what an interesting election season we’re having.” When I cross paths with someone whose opinions appear narrow to me, “ hmm, I’d love to hear more of your story.” Those are the first responses (free of sarcasm) I’m going for but they’re not always the first that rise up.
The feelings, sensations, thoughts that emerge first are often loaded with judgement. Author, Charles Eisenstein equates judgement with separation in his book The More Beautiful World Our Heart Knows is Possible. (A CGPV favorite found here). “At bottom, judgment says that you choose differently from me because you are different from me. This is the essence of separation: If I were in the totality of your circumstances, I would do differently from you.”
Making first response curiosity a practice is helping me recognize that initial spike of judgement for what it is. Playfully and gently curiosity calls me to respond from the inside out. At Peace Village we call this inner mindfulness Peace Within. It’s in this inner place that the More Beautiful World resides simply waiting for moments like this one right here to emerge into an experience of Peace Among.
Peace Among is our engagement together with each other. Being curious here gets even more interesting as I listen and share ideas and opinions about what we need and want our relationship to look like and be. Peace Around is one step further widening the conversation to include family, school, and community.
Our linear culture is good at drawing lines with endpoints and edges and we’re often seeking to understand an issue, a position, or each other through this filter which situates things on a spectrum with extremes on either end and degrees of separation along the line. There’s the economic spectrum, political spectrum, gender spectrum etc. etc. Each one of us could position ourselves on these spectrums and we’d have a snapshot idea of who we are. How true would that snapshot be to the full truth of you?
Curiosity skips past the lines, filters, and spectrums, grabs hands and pulls us into a circle. Circles are possibly the most powerful symbol of life from the shape of the planets to the shape of our cells. Each point within a circle is of equal distance from the center. Circles mean wholeness, inclusion, unity. In a circle we become more than the sum of our parts. As each contributes to the center a wisdom beyond any individual piece emerges. This is an example of Peace Among and can begin with two people. Peace Around expands the circle to include a whole community of people. Sounds nice right? We all know from experience that being the beautiful, messy, prickly, sensitive humans that we are it’s not easy and can get heated and emotional and hard. And so we create strong circles to hold us, and we seek practices to help form and shape our words and our listening. And we practice touching back into Peace Within and curiosity and compassion.
The Latin origin of compassion is simply to be with pain. Charles Eisenstein writes that “the essence of compassion to put oneself in another’s shoes. It says, you and I are one; we are the same being looking out at the world through different eyes, occupying different nexus points in the universal web of relationship.”
Compassionate curiosity reminds me that I am already in a circle together with all of you. My daily practice of first response curiosity is simply looping me back in. Here . . . take my hand and join me.
Want to learn more about the practices of Peace Within, Peace Among and Peace Around that we offer kids, youth and adults at CGPV? Come party with us on June 23rd, join our volunteer staff this summer, send your child (ages 6-13) to camp, and donate funds to support our work!
--by Karen Murphy,
President of the Board and founding Dream Team member
Peace Village Staff and Volunteers share mostly during the week of camp. Sign up above to receive notifications of blog posts and you'll never miss the latest news.