Mindful wanderings down the rabbit hole

Photo by Libi Fishman

Photo by Libi Fishman

As a child, I drove my parents crazy with my constant stream of questions.

“Why? What if? How come?”

I know my friends with kids can relate to the exhausting process of fielding random questions with convincing enough answers. At times, it must be easier to ask for some quiet time and answer with “Because I said so.”

I woke up this morning to a familiar process of random musings. In that space between sleep and awake, my thoughts have a tendency to sniff out rabbit holes and stake them with a flag for my conscious self to arise out of slumber and follow. This morning’s ruminations included: Why do most people tilt their heads to the right when kissing? Is there a correlation to being right-handed? Is it a right brain versus left brain phenomenon? What if your partner doesn’t tilt the same way? What impact might this have on the relationship?

This led me to wondering about the way we teach children, and how so often creativity is squashed at school. Now this isn’t a polemic on how we should teach our children, but more about how as adults we might be able to reverse the trend of limiting our creativity for ourselves. We’ve been conditioned to contain, restrain, and narrow our thoughts to what is deemed acceptable by the socio-cultural context that we live in. We’ve lost the naivety of uncensored curiosity of our youth and given in to the confines of our filters. What if we gave ourselves permission to just follow our train of thought, led by our innate curiosity? What might we learn about ourselves, and the world around us, in this way? What if we didn’t judge ourselves for desiring that knowledge and holding that curiosity? What if we took the red pill and challenged everything we hold as true?

To do this would require us to step into the existential angst of not knowing; of uncertainty and newness. Questions lead us not to answers, but to more questions. This in turn might lead us to feel the futility of life with no answers. The beautiful paradox in the freedom that this gives might compel some of us to continue on the quest, and follow the rabbit hole to wherever it might lead.

As existential therapists, we bear witness to this process for many of our clients. We share in their discoveries of their joy, heartaches, anger, and sadness. Most of all, we find delight in their courage—because going into therapy is often a courageous act of facing up to oneself.

How much of a challenge would it be for you to allow yourself to follow your day’s musings to see where they lead? Without judgment on, or attachment to, any particular outcome. Mindfully, almost meditatively, allow your thoughts to drift from one to the next, posing question after question, and staying with your curiosity and noticing the limitations you are tempted to place on the process. Whenever I enter my realm full of rabbit holes, I am struck by my own impatience to get to the “a-ha” moments, as if the speed by which I arrive at them could signify achievement. When I slow down enough to stay with my musings, I relish in the creativity that often stems from this process. In reality, these ruminations are not motivated by my need to acquire more knowledge, but are a fundamental part of my way of being in the world; it is the act of questioning that makes me feel alive.

I’ll see you down the next rabbit hole.

— Veronica Lac

Read more stories by Veronica Lac

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