Powerful service to others is based in one fundamental element and that is connection. We strive to create a space of connection that will help to build on feelings of trust, openness, acceptance and unconditional care for another person.
As we go through academic preparation and learn from the less formal interactions in our lives, we learn how to create this space of connection with others; we learn how to let others know that we are present and engaged. We learn how to send the message that we care.
Offering compassion as we develop connection with another is our way of saying that we care and that it is safe. Curiosity sends the message that we have a desire to understand and to explore the nature of an experience.
When these two elements come together, the results can be magical.
What is compassionate curiosity? And how do we engage in that energy? My understanding of this most beautifully combined process of exploration involves an intricate balance of energies that can open deeper experiences of conscious service.
When we bring curiosity to our experience of compassion, we gain greater capacity for understanding of our own experience as well as that of another. Curiosity keeps us exploring and opens us up to deeper levels of willingness.
When compassion guides our natural curiosity, we learn to probe gently in order to connect within and with others in this process of life and learning. It is in this place that we enter a space of authentic empathy.
Curiosity directs our compassionate energy. Compassion creates a space of acceptance and healing and helps us transcend judgment.
“Compassion does not create fatigue. Lack of self-compassion is exhausting.”
Whatever energy we are creating to welcome others and to serve others is only as powerful to the extent that we include ourselves.
How can you take the position of compassionate curiosity with yourself?
Consider how you respond to you when you feel you have made a mistake or when you decide that you have not lived up to your own standards. Are your words sweet or salty?
In those moments of sadness or fear, can you be present to your experience? What do you tell yourself? Are you open to feeling better or are you mired in self-punishment? How do you soothe your tender heart?
What about those times when you have just nailed it, you experience a personal victory or success? As the sense of humble pride and confidence arises, how do you greet it? Do you quickly shut it down because it is conceited to feel good about yourself; you don’t want to appear boastful and bigger than your britches. Do you immediately downplay your joy because you don’t want others to feel jealous and ultimately, not like you?
Is it possible to embrace it all in a way that honors our full experience? Can we be present to ourselves whatever the moment brings?
I am learning this in my own life now. I realized with guidance from helpful people that I am always talking to myself anyway, so why not make it encouraging and comforting? What if I came to myself from a place of compassionate curiosity? How would that change things?
I imagine how I would respond to a small child or someone I love deeply, and I take that approach with myself. That is the quickest route I have found so far to engage in self-compassion and self-love.
So, what does this have to do with finding joy in service? Joy naturally springs from the same place as compassion and curiosity, love and belonging. One of the bravest actions we can take is to explore with curiosity and compassion that place where our joy lives. And when we find it, feel ourselves light up, and open up to receive and follow our joy, we demonstrate self-love. When that overflows to others, we are engaged in conscious service.
Join The Conversation
I remember when I first heard the term compassionate curiosity like it was yesterday. The words went directly to my heart and set off bells inside my soul. I was attending a workshop and listening to an eloquent and wise speaker. I am beyond ecstatic to welcome this man as my guest on the next episode of Serving Consciously at www.ctrnetwork.com on Friday February 10, 2017 at 12:00 Noon (PST).
Gabor Maté is a medical doctor recently retired from active practice. He was a family physician for two decades and for seven years he served as Medical Coordinator of the Palliative Care Unit at Vancouver Hospital.
For twelve years he worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with patients challenged by hard-core addiction, mental illness, HIV and related conditions. For two years he was the onsite physician at Vancouver’s unique Supervised Injection Site, North America’s only such facility.
He is internationally known for his work on the mind/body unity in health and illness, on attention deficit disorder and other childhood developmental issues, and his breakthrough analysis of addiction as a psychophysiological response to childhood trauma and emotional loss.
Dr. Maté is the author of four best-selling books published in twenty languages on five continents, including When The Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection and the award winning In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction.
Gabor is the recipient of an Outstanding Alumnus Award from Simon Fraser University and an Honorary Degree of Law from the University of Northern British Columbia, among other awards.
He frequently addresses professional and lay audiences in North America and internationally on issues related to childhood development and parenting, physical and mental health and wellness, and addiction.
He is Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Criminology, Simon Fraser University. His next book, Toxic Culture: Trauma, Illness and Healing in a World of Materialism will be published in 2018.
You can tune in live on Friday February 10, 2017 at 12:00 Noon (PST) at www.ctrnetwork.com. Just click on Listen Live and you will be in! And of course, if you would like to interact with us, please call in during the show at 1-844-390-8255.