Curiosity of the heart: A gift of kintsugi gold

Posted by Kenetha Stanton on

Kintsugi (kintsukuroi) orange agate stone heart pendant with gold repair on black cotton cord 

This post of part of a series on the subtle gifts of kintsugi gold. In this series, I am sharing some of the gifts I have discovered in the gold of my own healing in the hopes that it will help others identify the quiet gifts available to them. All people are different, however, and all forms of brokenness and healing are likewise unique, so my experience may or may not resemble yours. I hope it can still be a starting point for searching for and discovering your own gifts hidden in your healed scars.

Times of brokenness are an entry into a whole new landscape of heartache, grief, and anguish. The world around us suddenly looks and feels so different that we may as well have entered a whole new land.

Our everyday lives are shrouded in darkness and fog that produce unexpected shadows that twist and morph in obscure pools of hazardous terrain. Our hearts are haunted by drifting ghosts of painful pasts that wend their way into our current reality bringing old pain to mingle with the new.

Time is stretched and warped in strange shapes that makes movement from one moment to the next oddly disorienting as we lose gaps of time to the overwhelming cries of our hearts. Our minds are numb from the shock of overwhelm and once-simple tasks feel like an attempt to climb Mt. Everett.

When we are in this kind of pain, the last thing we want to do is explore it further. We just want out of this warped, deranged world and back into the "normal" world we know so well. But for all of our frantic searching and running, there is no doorway back.

At least for a time, this new, strange land is our home, whether we like it or not.

Exploring our new landscape

When I landed in this new terrain during my own passage through a time of intense brokenness a few years ago, I found a landscape that was not entirely foreign to me. Past journeys through heartache and struggles with depression made aspects of the terrain familiar.

I had been through the darkness and shadows before, and I had some idea what to expect, but the intensity of this trip through its land was something new.

Since I knew from experience that there was no easy escape from this place except to journey through it, I chose to use this trip to explore and map the terrain as best as I could for future reference.

This meant bringing my curiosity to the fore. Not the mental, analytical curiosity that so often serves me well in learning new things. No, that just led me down the trail of ruminating on the same old stories and hurts in an attempt to analyze them away.

The curiosity that served me here was more like the open curiosity of a child exploring a world that is still filled with wonder. I call this a curiosity of the heart.

Curiosity of the heart

This curiosity of the heart is one that enters fully into the experience of the moment. Feeling deeply into each emotion whose waves pound against our hearts. Learning the textures, colors, and tastes of those emotions as they pour through us.

It means meeting our ghosts of heartaches past face-to-face and getting to know them as fellow-sufferers. Learning the contours of their wounds and touching the unhealed roots of their pain.

It involves actively exploring the terrain of this dark landscape with all of our senses open. Listening attentively to the soundscape in the darkness, feeling its textures on the skin of our hearts, inhaling deeply of the scents, and tasting its water of tears on our tongues.

And with true curiosity of the heart, all of this exploring is done with an open-hearted experience of what is, not as an attempt to rationalize or explain it away.

It's forming a relationship with this inner terrain of our broken hearts so that every inch of the territory feels known and seen and acknowledged.

For there is healing in that relationship with the dark, hurting, abandoned parts of our hearts. In getting to know them with open-hearted curiosity, we bring them into the light of relationship with the rest of who we are.

And that light slowly brightens the darkness to bring this underground world to the surface to merge with the "normal" life we knew before.

The gift

There is healing to be found in approaching these journeys through the dark terrain with curiosity of the heart, and this is a gift in itself. But that's not the only gift available.

Having learned to approach even the darkest times with curiosity of heart, we learn that we can survive the experience. The terrain of that world may not be enjoyable, but it is no longer so strange and unknown to us.

This hard-won knowledge makes it possible to bring that same curiosity of the heart back with us to our everyday world, to explore all of our experiences with the same open-hearted sense of curiosity in the moment.

This openness to experiencing and exploring what is in each moment means we don't create as many ghosts shoved into our landscape of shadows to haunt us later. We heal the wounds of life as they come along with our loving attention and exploration of them in the now.

And we also discover that bringing this open-hearted curiosity to each moment means getting know the tastes and textures and subtle shapes of our joyful moments as well, imprinting them more deeply on our hearts with our focused attention.

We find both wonder and embodied groundedness in all of our experience to draw us out of our heads and back into the full flow of life.

And that is a gift indeed.

For reflection

How well do you know that dark terrain of heartache, grief, and anguish? Have you ever been willing to explore it fully during your journeys through that space?

What does curiosity of the heart mean to you? Can you think of times when you have experienced this? What was that experience like?

How open are you to all of your experience—both the pain and the joy of life? How might you increase your ability to approach it all with curiosity of the heart?


Other posts in this series

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