Actually, that is probably an unfair title to this post. Curiosity—in the sense of being open to and vividly aware of what is going on in one’s own body and, in partner exercises, between two bodies—is an essential part of tai chi. At the same time, that’s not the point I want to expand on today. In fact, I want to build on my post from yesterday.
You may well be asking yourself: Why work so hard at practicing and developing curiosity? Surely it is something that comes or doesn’t come. Right? I decided to focus more on developing curiosity in myself this year because it seemed such a fundamental part to other things I want in my life, including responsiveness. (Details listed in my hypothesis.)
Can we will ourselves to be curious? Can we build our capacity for curiosity through application the way we can, for example, learn to play the piano? I’m counting on it being possible or I wouldn’t be working on it in this way. There is actually precedence in my life. For over ten years I practiced tai chi (and I’m planning to go back to it next year). After a few years our class was talking about the benefits. I mentioned that, although I didn’t experience the centeredness quintessential to tai chi all the time (yes, I do tend to set pretty unattainable goals), I noticed that I had a much more reliable ability to enter that state and that it was a great feeling. My teacher said, “That is the point of practice. Almost no one is centered all the time, but if we work at it consciously we do get better at finding that state more regularly and at will.”
And so I carry on.