Curiosity is defined as “an eager desire to know or learn about something.” According to the United Nations, children are born naturally curious and curiosity fosters empathy, personal growth and happiness.
In Alexander Technique practice, we actively cultivate curiosity by asking ourselves what is going on in us in this moment. Curiosity helps us to tap into a greater awareness of ourselves. At any given moment there is an infinite number of things going on in us, so there is much to be curious about. Most of those things we probably don’t pay attention to most of the time. And yet, when we do pay attention to ourselves with this open-ended question of “What is going on in me?” we learn more about ourselves while developing a non-judgmental perspective.
Throughout our lives we learn to move and act in habitual ways that, while more or less serving us to get around and do stuff, may not be optimal. We may become stuck in unconscious patterns of posture, movement and/or thought that don’t contribute to our wellbeing, that rather lead to stiffness or soreness or that constrain us. When we are curious about what is going on with “an eager desire to know about something,” there is no need for judgement about whether that thing is right or wrong. By letting go of notions of right and wrong and merely seeking to find out, we can allow ourselves to explore and better understand what it is that we actually do as well as other possibilities.
For example, if I am about to lift something heavy, in a brief pause before the action, I can observe myself curiously, wondering what I do in the moment of preparation. Do I pull my head down and tighten my neck in a way that actually makes lifting more effortful? As another example, I can wonder what I am doing as I am standing. Am I working more effortfully than necessary in different parts of my body? Has my body been working hard to protect me in ways that might no longer be necessary? By nonjudgementally observing, I remain open to discovery. I may even be happily surprised to discover something I didn’t know I was doing that was contributing to lower back pain.
Being curious opens us to greater perception of things we may not notice when we approach our body or ways of doing things in a judgemental manner with preconceived ideas of what is right and wrong. It also enhances our ability to let go of what we don’t need, as curiosity only motivates us to find out, it does not require us to react. As we cultivate curiosity, we cultivate the ability to be without reacting.