Introduction to Suffering

Jim:    Good evening.  Welcome to another podcast of Fishing Without Bait, where we attempt to lead our lives without definitive expectations.  Fishing Without Bait, it might be a mind-bending type of concept.  Mike, why would anyone fish without bait?  And, I’m referring to my good friends, producer, and co-host, Mr. Mike.

Mike:    Hello, Jim.  How are you doing?

Jim:    Mike, why would anybody fish without bait?

Mike:    Well, maybe they have a really creative concept of the sport.  Maybe they’re just out for conversation.  Maybe they’re just in there for the moment, and the time, and the quiet as we talk about on this podcast.

Jim:    So, if you were out on a lake, and you brought your fishing pole, and you didn’t bring a tackle box with you, and all you had was a hook and a line, and you threw it into the water, what would the other fishermen think?

Mike:    What is he doing?  Why is he here?

Jim:    You think they might ask you some questions, or stare at you?

Mike:    I think they won’t ask questions.  They’re asking questions in their head, but they’re like I’m staying away from that weird bird over there.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So isn’t part of the joy of fishing is participating in the moment?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    Participating in nature.  Participating in being one with creation, experiencing your life.

Mike:    Precisely.

Jim:    Mr. Mike, let’s start of tonight’s journey in this moment – with again a trip to our favorite restaurant.  So, again I’m going to ask you – and of course we repeat things, which brings repetition into people’s lives.  What would be your favorite thing to order?

Mike:    As we go to our Denny’s after a lot of our gigs, I’m usually with the chicken parm.  Chicken parmesan.

Jim:    So, if you went to Denny’s, Mike, what would be something on the menu that you would never order – that when you look it over you shudder inside and think to yourself how could anybody order that?

Mike:    The salmon my wife orders all the time.

Jim:    The salmon your wife orders all the time.  Okay.  So, let’s say that – what happens is, that you haven’t eaten in ten days.  You’re a little weak.  You’re a little shaky.  You go to the only place that is open.  They come out and they say will you have your usual.  And, you say, of course, please, please.  And, what they do is, they bring you out a big plate of salmon – half cooked.  And, you know what, Mike, life often is like that, that we don’t get what we order.  However, what we have to do is deal with it on our plate.  I was thinking today, as I often sometimes do, that as we get a little older sometimes we all experience some little breakdowns in our bodies, breakdowns in life – some illnesses, some ailments – that perhaps no one orders.  Does anyone order an illness?

Mike:    No.  Absolutely not.  I’m like I can’t wait for that one day when I get the flu.

Jim:    Does anyone order a disease?

Mike:    Nope.

Jim:    No.  That doesn’t order.  However, quite often, when you’re with somebody – let’s say, when you get whacked on the knee, or maybe when you were younger, someone might have told you, Mike, pay no attention to that knee.  So, what’s the only thing that you can think about?  It’s your knee, of course.  Some places, some people – that’s what’s called though suppression, Mike.  However, what I call it is the purple spotted hippopotamus in a pink tutu in the corner syndrome.  In our spacious studious, our lovely studios where we record these podcast, if there was a purple spotted hippopotamus in a pink tutu in the corner and when I came in you said Jim, this hippopotamus has been here all day.  I can’t get rid of it.  So, please, just don’t pay any attention to it even though it’s blowing bubbles.  What was the only thing?  And, remember Mike, what we resist persists.  Isn’t that correct?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    Absolutely.  However, when we’re dealing with a mindfulness journey, and we’re dealing with dealing with pain, or we’re dealing with illness, or we’re dealing with suffering, what we do in our mindful journey is take perhaps a different perspective on it.  What we do is we approach this illness with self-awareness.  So what is self-awareness?  Self-awareness is realizing, Mike, that you are not this body.  And, you are not this illness.  And, you are not this pain.  And, what we do is we attempt to become the observer – take a non-judgmental stance.  And, Mike, there’s a saying that if you can breathe there’s more right with you than wrong.

Mike:    That absolutely makes sense.

Jim:    So, when we’re dealing with that, we’re dealing with more of a positive thought, are we not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    Quite often, when a person becomes ill – when a person is diagnosed, what goes through their mind?

Mike:    Everything bad.  How their life is ended.  How their life has changed so much.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, Mike, if you had a gun, would you shoot yourself?

Mike:    No.

Jim:    Of course not.  However, if we could imagine that negative thoughts are bullets, how many people shoot themselves with negative thoughts?

Mike:    Oh.  Every day.

Jim:    Absolutely.  And, what do those do?

Mike:    I guess in one way you could say they kill part of your soul.

Jim:    So, when we’re shooting ourselves with negative thoughts we’re basically putting our psyche like Swiss cheese.  All we’re doing is harming ourselves.  And, when we’re ill all we’re doing is making ourselves worse, are we not?  Negative thinking, Mike, is like a black hole.  And, we know what a black hole is in the world of physics – it’s something that has an enormous gravitational pull, so powerful that it actually bends light.  Hence the blackness.  So, when we have this negative thinking, when we have this black hole inside us, all the positivity and all the beauty of life as it is around us gets wiped out.  All we have is the blackness.  What do we do?  We’re not a car being taken in for repair, are we, Mike?

Mike:    No we’re not.

Jim:    Your body’s not a car we can repair.  So, in this mindfulness journey what we ask is that you be a participant rather than a recipient of care.  What would it mean to you?

Mike:    That would mean you’re checking your own oil instead of waiting for it to run out.

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Jim:    Absolutely.  And, sometimes with negative thinking, Mike – have you ever seen a bee, or a fly, or a dog that, let’s say is trapped in a room, and there’s a window there.  And, they continuously pound themselves at the window.  Or have you ever seen a bird that continuously pecks at a window trying to get out?  So, quite often that’s what that negative thinking can be – when we continuously pound, pound, pound at the window rather than accept and be aware of where we’re at.  And, what’s our natural response?  It’s negativity.  And, when we have negativity, what goes on in our life?  When we have the stress, we have the anxiety of being negative, shooting ourselves only increases – we’ll get into a bit of a scientific background here – the adrenal glands that are on top of our kidneys produce a substance called Cortisol, I’m sure which everyone is aware – in the stress and the anxiety the Cortisol puts us into the fight or flight syndrome, which is a good thing.  However, when we’re continually shooting ourselves with negative thinking then this Cortisol production keeps on and on and on, like a never-ending cycle, and the actual hormone itself can cause a great deal of damage to our body.  So, what do we do?  Mike, when you were – let’s say, when you were sick, or you were a caregiver, or something bad happens in your life.  When someone comes to you – let’s say, naturally, a lot of times it would be a parent or a loved one.  Quite often would they tell you that everything’s going to be okay?

Mike:    Yeah.

Jim:    Can you remember that?

Mike:    Yeah.  I can remember that a few times?

Jim:    Have you ever told your wife that?

Mike:    Yeah.

Jim:    Has your wife ever told you that?  Trying to be comforting?

Mike:    Yes.  We certainly both deal with a lot of those issues.  I’m getting away, and all I can see is this problem in front of me, and I can’t see around that problem.  I can’t see the plus side of the problem.  How it’s going to resolve.  And, I just see the ripples of all the other problems that problem makes. And, it just grows, and grows, and grows.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, remember, Mike, pain can only exist in the present moment.  Can it not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    Pain can only exist in the present moment.  However, how often do we deal – we bring that pain to the past, and the worrying and the anxiety about the pain about the future into this moment, and just exasperate the condition that we’re in.  Mike, I’ll tell you what, when I get out of bed in the morning, I realize that I’m not 20 years old anymore.  

Mike:    As do I.  Although I’m not quite as far off, but it feels like it sometimes.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, remember, pain can be useful.  Without pain, what would happen in your life?  You could walk through a glass door if you didn’t have pain.  You wouldn’t realize that something bad is going on.  However, remember, Mike, pain is something that happens.  We can’t anticipate a bee sting.  However, suffering is something that we create.  If it’s something we create, hence we could have control over it could we not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    What we’re attempting to do in these podcasts, and which we will do in the next one is give people positive ways of dealing with life in the present moment, about dealing with pain, recognizing it and embracing it, and encompassing it.  Not trying to do any type of suppression.  So, what we’re going to do Mike, is – let’s say like a crying baby.  If we’re a crying baby – sometimes we can get angry at a crying baby, can’t we?  Or get a little upset and frustrated?

Mike:    Many parents do.  Often, in the middle of the Dollar General.

Jim:    Right.  We get frustrated and upset with a crying baby.  So, sometimes when we’re ill, sometimes when we’re in pain like that, our body is crying a bit, is it not?  

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    What helps a crying baby?  Does anger, or frustration help?

Mike:    No.

Jim:    What do we do?  We comfort and we care for that baby, do we not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    So, what we want to do is comfort and care for ourselves.

Mike:    I’ve got to give my inner self a bottle sometimes.

Jim:    For sure.  

Mike:    I’ve got to change my inner-self’s diapers sometimes.

Jim:    So, what we’re asking to do is become a participant in our treatment.  And, in this mindfulness journey that we’re on, we’re going to learn that – again, we are not our bodies.  And, we are not illness.  We are not sickness.  We’re an existential soul.  We’re a presence.  We’re an energy in the universe.  And, can anyone define what a mind is, Mike?  When we talk about mindfulness, does anybody know what a mind is?  

Mike:    We have – first I’m thinking we talk about our brains, but we’re talking about our thoughts and everything, and how much that affects.  And, when we talk about our minds and how we feel inside, we talk about how it feels in our soul, and we feel that in our chests.  So, what do we narrow that down to?

Jim:    Right.  Our brain’s the hardware, is it not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    Our brain is the hardware, like a computer.  And, it has the 0s and 1s bouncing back and forth in that computer.  So, somewhere in there, in all that, is a consciousness.  And, that consciousness is you.  And, when we can separate the consciousness from this physical form, and step back and look at it, and embrace it and understand it, we often talk about labeling and describing during these podcasts, do we not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    Being able to label and describe the situation, and what exactly is going on with you.  Because, when we are suffering, or we are in pain, and we’re not feeling well, what do we always try to do?  Mask it.  We always try to mask it.  We try to run away from it.  Well, in our next podcast – which I am hoping is going to be soon, we’re going to be talking about loving kindness.  We’re going to be talking about being a participant in our own treatment.  We’re going to talk about how to deal with this pain in the present in a productive way and avoid the suffering, which we create ourselves.  So, until the next time, it’s so good to be with you again today.  You take care.  

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.