Dropping the Rock

Greetings, friends.  And, welcome to the sixth episode of Fishing Without Bait – a concept where we ask people to live their life without unreasonable expectations.  It’s when we set definitive results from our lives that we end up disappointing ourselves and being unmindful.  

Jim:     Today’s episode is call Dropping the Rock.    What do I mean by “dropping the rock?”  Let’s use this as an example:  A person trudges through their life with a rock on their back.  That rock can represent past traumas.  It can represent your past.  It can represent resentments, frustrations, anger, sorrow, self-pity, thinking about things you wish you would have done, thinking about things you wish you would not have done.  Though the accumulated footprints on your body from your life’s past experiences.  So, let’s imagine that you run into individuals who are getting on a mindful boat, a mindful boat where they experience the present moment living life out loud.  And, you of course, would like to get on there.  When you get on, the people tell you, “You’ll have to drop the rock.  It’s too heavy.  You’ll sink the boat.  You’ll have to drop the rock.”  However, you’re so attached to that rock, that it’s been with you for so long that you refuse to drop it and then the ship sails off.  Let’s use another example, Mike.  Let’s say a poacher.  Let’s say that a poacher wants to capture a monkey.  How do they do that?  They get a cage, and they make a hole, and they put food inside it – like a nut, or a banana, or whatever.  The hole is just big enough for the monkey’s hand to get through.  However, when they make their fist and they grab the banana, or they grab the nut, they can no longer remove their hand.  And, the monkey is one-minded and focused, and doesn’t understand that in order to be free they have to release that object that they have attached themselves to.

Mike:    They won’t give up on it.

Jim:    That’s correct.  And, what happens, Mike, is that all these accumulated – and, if you remember in a past episode we talked about accumulated thoughts and emotions as being like eggs in a refrigerator, and they get in there and they stay so long that they get stale and they get moldy.  And, what happens to eggs when they get old and break?  What’s it smell like?

Mike:    Ewww.  Rotten eggs.  It’s so bad.

Jim:    It’s awful.

Mike:    And, it just permeates everything.

Jim:    And, sometimes, that’s what can manifest in our lives.  Feelings of rage, pain, anxiety, grief, and so on.  And, we try to avoid that past as much as we can, do we not?  We use all types of avoidance mechanisms to avoid dealing with that past.  It’s like knowing that there’s something in the woods.  However, we’re afraid to go in the woods.  Going through the woods might lead us to a better place, however, we’re afraid to do that.  So, through a mindfulness experience, what we attempt to do is deal with these past issues in present time.  Mike, every single person is a product of their past.  Every single person on Earth is a product of their past.  Through a mindful experience, what we ask is that people can make choices as to whether to be a victim of that past.  And, that’s not to discount people’s past traumas, people’s past experiences in their life.  However, I’m sure that you’ve met many people in their life who are still carrying that rock.

Mike:    Certainly.

Jim:    And, we all carry some rocks.  Every single one of us.  And, what this can be, Mike, is a stuck point in your personal growth.  So, how do we deal with that past in a beneficial and productive way?  How do we take that past and bring it into the present?  I’m going to review a concept that personally I’m familiar with.  And, I do not represent any twelve (12) step recovery group.  Nor do I speak for them.  I’m merely, in my own explanation, how it’s worked in my life and worked in others’ lives.  What we attempt to do, Mike, is take personal inventory.  What’s an inventory?  Do you take inventory?

Mike:    Yes.  Do, I have enough tape?  Do I have enough tapes for this next project?  Do I have enough batteries?  Do I have all my projects all set up for this video shoot?  Certainly.  Every month.  To make sure that everything runs well.

Jim:    So imagine your life as a business.  We inventory, and we categorize sellable and unsellable goods.  So, a lot of these unsellable goods are these issues from the past that block and impede our growth.  So, the first thing we want to do, Mike, is do a self-inventory and a self-examination.  And, remember, this isn’t another person’s inventory.  I’m feeling this way because you did that.  The idea here is to bring these things out into the light, open the refrigerator, bring those eggs out and clean out the inside of it.  I suspect that in your life, you’ve forgiven a lot of people.  I really have.  However one of the hardest things for an individual to do is forgive themselves.  You’ve mentioned to me many times that you’re your own harshest critic.

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    I asked you earlier about the podcasts and what you thought of them.  And, what was your answer to me?

Mike:    I’m like, “I’m probably not a good judge on that.”  Because, I always want it to be better.  I don’t know.  It’s just, I don’t know at what point is that drive healthy to make it better?  That goes a little bit to what we talked about last podcast about:  Always be learning.  Always knowing you can learn more.  Including that, to me, how do I make this better?  So, that’s where I get stuck.

Jim:    So, again, we approach this past with those three (3) essentials:  Honest, open-mindedness (that beginner’s mind), and the willingness to try.  The difference between being willing and willful.  So, quite often when we don’t drop that rock, Mike, we’re being willful.  We’re being stubborn.  And, of course that’s a topic for another podcast.  So, let’s say, I’m going to refer to the twelve (12) step recovery world.  Let’s say that you make three (3) lists.  Let’s say that you make the first list, you make of resentments: People, places, things, circumstances that you’re upset with, that have some type of meaning in your life today.  How does it impact you?  So what we do is we make columns.  We actually write things down.  And, I suggest, Mike, that they use the human touch and not use a word processor.  Actually have a pencil in your hand and write those words, and see them on the page.  What is the resentment?  We list that.  Okay.  What does it affect?  What does this resentment affect in your life?  It affects your pocketbook.  It affects your relationships.  It affects your self-esteem.  It affects your self concept.  Whatever it affects in your life.  And, who did it.  And, then what we always want to do, Mike, is what we put our part in that.  There are very few resentments that anyone has that we didn’t have the slightest inkling of some type of resentment.  Okay, there is some part we played in it.  So, we really need to get those out.  Resentment is usually a huge offender at an obstacle and a block to happiness, is it not?  How many people have you walked around perpetually looking like they’re horribly constipated?

Mike:    Thankfully, in the day jobs this would happen a bit.  

Jim:    Yes.  So many people are angry.

Mike:    They’re definitely holding it in from time to time.

Jim:    Angry, restless, irritable, and discontent.

Mike:    I see this a lot.  So, my errands are all over the place, so I end up going to an Office Depot or a Staples in the middle of the day because I need supplies, right?  And, now I wonder how much I do this now, too.  Because I’m just bottle up over whatever I’m dealing with.  I know I had the other day, it felt like every bad thing to run into on the way to my errand happened on the road.  And by the time, I was just like, “Gah. I can’t even anymore.”  And I wonder how much I’m walking around with that, “Don’t bother me,” kind of attitude.

Jim:    Absolutely.  And, again, we keep referring back to our fundamental techniques: Label and describe the resentments that you have.  And put them on paper.  Take them out from between your ears, out of the refrigerator and put them out on paper.  Next we look at fears, Mike.  Every single human being has fears.  Whether that’s fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of dying.  Whatever those types of fear are.  And again, there’s that word “fear,” Mike.  How often does this weave through our podcast?

Mike:    Well, every episode to date that we’ve recorded, yes.

Jim:    Yes.  So, the biggest fear that most people leave out in these types of inventories, Mike, is the fear of being found out.  There is something in an individual’s life that they have either repressed, forgotten, never want to be brought to the light of day.  And, that is a huge bunch of stinking eggs in that refrigerator.  Now, and please don’t believe that I’m discounting past traumas that people have had in their life.  However, these traumas are things that want to be brought to the light of day.  These things are like vampires, Mike.  When you bring them out into the sunlight, they dissolve.  They’re there inside of you, and they need to be brought out.  People need to tell their fears.  The need to express them.  So, let’s say, sex.  And, let’s say that list.  Sex permeates every single aspect of the human experience.  What’s one of the main advertising tools?

Mike:    Television?

Jim:    Yes.  Any advertising.

Mike:    And, as they say, “Sex sells.”

Jim:    Yes.  Absolutely.  So, it is not your orientation.  It’s not the number of consensual partners you’ve had.  It’s not the acrobatic positions.  It’s where you’ve been selfish or dishonest in a sexual or an emotional relationship with another human being.  And, everyone has done that, Mike.  So, these things are blocks.  And they’re hindrances to getting on that mindfulness boat.  These things add up into huge rocks.  So what do we do?  First of all, we go on a path of not only going to others to make amends.  We learn how to forgive ourselves for whatever’s happened in our life.  Let me give you this for an example.  I had wronged you shamefully in the past, okay?  So, what I do is, with a sincere and willing heart, I come to you to make things right.  And, you pick up a baseball bat and chase me down the street.

Mike:    Thankfully, none of my encounters have been that bad.

Jim:    Did that amends work?  

Mike:    No.

Jim:    Okay.  Now, whose side of the street am I trying to clean up?  Yours?  No.  I’m trying to clean up mine.  I went to you with a sincere and willing heart, with an intention to make things right.  You refused to accept it.  Simply the matter that you refused to accept it does not negate my action and effort and my intentions.  That amends certainly does work.  Forgiveness.  Self-forgiveness.  Did you know there was a Zen Master that used to live in Latrobe?  Yes.  His name was Fred Rogers.  

Mike:    Oh.  It comes around.

Jim:    His name was Fred Rogers.  He was one of the calmest, most present people on earth.  Kind.  Generous.  The Buddha would certainly call him a compassionate being would he not?  

Mike:    I think so, from everything I hear about him.

Jim:    And, one of Fred Rogers’ most influential teachers was an individual by the name of Dr. William Moore.  And, one of his quotations that Fred Rogers remembered, “There’s one thing that evil cannot stand, and that is forgiveness.”  Forgiveness is like a light shining into the darkness, Mike.  Forgiving yourself can surely dissolve stones.  It has incredible power.  So, what I’m asking everyone out there on this mindful journey, if you have a rock, let’s begin to examine that rock.  Let’s begin to label and describe the elements that make that rock up.  All of us have a few pebbles in our pocket, perhaps in our shoes, that slow us down occasionally.  However, Mike, some of us trudge through life with a huge boulder on our backs.  And, we can’t get on that boat because we won’t drop that rock.  It’s warm and comfortable.  It’s that eight (8) lane super highway.  It’s the monkey holding onto the nut or the banana, that won’t let it go.  So, on this mindfulness journey, again I’m asking you to become the observer behind the thinker, able to label and describe the events in your life – the obstacles and barriers that are preventing you from growth and moving forward, preventing you from being an authentic human being.  And, if you would like to have any further comments or questions about this, any way that we could possibly help you on this type of a journey, my producer, Mike, my friend, will let you know how that can be done.  

Please check out our website at FishingWithoutBait.com where you can listen to the show, comment on our discussions and find out where you can subscribe to our podcast.  Fishing Without Bait is a production of Namaste Holistic Counseling, P.C.