A couple of years ago I did a course in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). One of the mindfulness exercises was eating a raisin mindfully, which was fine for me because I like raisins. One person though had long had an aversion to raisins and was skeptical about the benefit of eating even one raisin. He reported afterwards that it wasn’t as bad as he had expected. Apparently, using all his senses and seeing the raisin as an exercise helped him.
Well, we are having Salade Nicoise for lunch, which has anchovies in it. In the spirit of curiosity practice, I ate an anchovy mindfully, even though I’m the kind of person who doesn’t even want someone else’s pizza half with anchovies on it in the same carton as my half with other things. I decided to look at the situation as a chance to practice curiosity, to remain open and not judge. I focused on what I tasted rather than what my opinion was of what I tasted. The anchovy was just as salty and fishy as I remembered and it wasn’t a great pleasure to eat it, but approaching it that way did help.
Day 300 already! Only 65 days left. I must start pulling up my socks and really practicing curiosity. Less thinking and writing about it.
Today I actually did just that. I was browsing through Facebook and saw a post from a friend of mine asking, “Are peanut butter and mayo really as good together as everyone says?” I found myself thinking first “Who on earth says that? I’ve never heard it before” and then “Sounds gross” and then “There’s only one way to find out.”
Immediately following those thoughts came “It is my Year of Living Curiously. Maybe I should just be brave and test it.” I even had mayo in the house, which I usually don’t. (I always have peanut butter.) So in the name of curiosity, I had a piece of toast for lunch with peanut butter and mayo on it.
Was it as good as “everyone says”? I couldn’t say. I don’t know how good it is supposed to be. What I can say is that it is not as gross as it sounds. I found it kind of nondescript, the mayo kind of diluting the distinctive flavor of the peanut butter. One thing, though, the mayo, being slippery, did make the peanut butter stick less to the roof of my mouth. That’s something, I suppose.
This morning, as we near the end of the course and so some of the pressure is off, I really took a look at the breakfast buffet and saw all kinds of opportunities to practice curiosity–Asian choices, other fish choices, three different kinds of sausages, including vegetarian, fruit, veg, muesli, etc. You can imagine. What held me back? One specific fear of the consequences–fear of getting fat.
One way of practicing curiosity in everyday life, of course, is trying out a new recipe, something I did a few days ago. I can’t say I approached the whole thing, a veggie lasagna, with great curiosity. I followed the instructions pretty closely. Nonetheless it was an entirely new recipe for me so counts for something. Next time I can try something like it with more curious abandon, making some things up as I go along.
In case you’re interested, it was delicious. 🙂
Here is a post from a blog I follow. It’s a lovely story about how the author and her siblings started cooking and learned how to make crêpes through experimenting.
It takes curiosity to cook like this and even to get started cooking like this. And I have to say, as in the story of Jane Goodall’s mother (who shared the excitement of Goodall’s discovery instead of scolding her for vanishing for hours), I find the parents’ reaction in this exemplary.
A quick note: The expression “trial and correction” is one that Timothy Gallwey, author of the Inner Game concept, uses because he feels “trial and error” is not accurate. We try, things don’t go the way we want, we correct what we do, and so on. Trial and correction.