Mini Mindfulness

Jim:    Greetings and welcome to another episode of Fishing Without Bait, where we attempt to envision a life and help people participate in a life without definitive expectations where we set ourselves up for possible failure and possible disappointment.  Remember, goals and ambitions are wonderful.  However, they can only be accomplished by action and effort in the present.  Well, Mr. Mike, let the circle be unbroken.  We meet again.

Mike:    Hello again, Jim, down here in the studio hanging out, talking some mindfulness and helping people.

Jim:    Indeed.  The wheel turns.  Does it not?

Mike:    Indeed.

Jim:    The wheel keeps turning.  And, a hundred blessings to you, my friend.

Mike:    And, a hundred to you.  At some point I’ve got to ask you how you keep track, and start thinking about that.

Jim:    I do not.  

Mike:    Just go until it feels like a hundred?

Jim:    I just go until I feel like I’ve blessed everyone and every place, thing and situation that I can think of.

Mike:    Ahh.  Okay.

Jim:    Some people I actually double bless, really.  To tell you the truth.  So, we’re in a new year, Mike.  According to people who think it’s important to track time.  Let me ask you something, do dogs or cats care about time?

Mike:    Only when they’re waiting for me to come back home with their treat.

Jim:    Indeed.  Do children have any conception of time at all?

Mike:    Nope.

Jim:    None.  Zero.  Are most children happy?  Really and truly, are they?  If they’re taken care of, are they happy?

Mike:    Yeah.  I think kids are mostly born happy.  They’re smiling.  After that initial trauma of being born.

Jim:    Well, sure.  So, do you think there’s any connection between a child having no conception of time at all and being happy?

Mike:    What do you have to worry about at that point?  Or have a need, or anything that you’re concerned with?

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, again, we’ll get into time in a future podcast.  Again, because it’s self-constructed by man.  We try to impose our will on time just like we try to impose our will on everything.  So, Mike, at times I feel that time is an unfathomable mystery.  Our minds don’t like that feeling.  Remember, our minds like to be in control, do they not?

Mike:    Right.  Or, at least feel that way.

Jim:    Right.  And, if you remember, we talked about those concepts of consonance and dissonance, where our mind doesn’t like disharmony or dissonance.  And, we try to create consonance.  We try to make ourselves feel better by justification, by denial, by avoidance – any type of defense mechanisms.  So, we like to be in control, Mike.  We label time.  We give it words like year, century, day, minute, second, and so on.  Which really and truly have no meaning – only the meaning that we give to them.  So, again we come back to the two topics that we talk about the most – time and choice.  Where does mindfulness fit into that?  Mindfulness is all about the present moment, being aware, paying attention on purpose.  So, really, time doesn’t exist in mindfulness, Mike.  Again, it’s a conscious choice to participate in the moment, to participate in mindfulness.  So, remember, Mike – and, again as we discover the uniqueness of each moment and as we move from present moment to present moment, that present moment becomes timeless.  There is no time.  You’ll never, ever be bored again when you find the uniqueness of each moment.  Never be bored again.  Can you imagine that?  To never be bored again?

Mike:    I think that’s really important for a lot of people – for commuters, for people that have to deal with day-to-day tasks.  How many people are like, I’m so bored.  I can’t wait to get home.  I can’t wait to do this.  And, now they’re pushing their timeframe, their mind – again you were talking about time travel before.  I can’t wait to get to the weekend.  I can’t wait to get to this.  And, now it’s just like, I’ve got to get to this thing.  It’s a different kind of time travel than what we talk about.  

Jim:    Sure.  So, let’s talk about people that are incarcerated, people that are in prison.

Mike:    Got nothing but time!

Jim:    And, one of the most inhumane things that we do is keep people in solitary confinement.  Some people can handle it.  Some people, literally, go insane in that type of atmosphere.  So, what’s the difference between the people that go insane and the people who do not?

Mike:    Is it a need for stimulation?

Jim:    Well, there’s a need for stimulation.  But, also it’s the mindfulness aspect of finding the uniqueness of each moment and not letting yourself be overwhelmed by what you would consider the sameness of each day.  Remember, when we talk about this type of mindfulness activity we always talk about reinforcement, do we not?  I heard a particular quote by a friend of ours, Dr. Matt Keener, who said that we need to prepare and we need to anticipate moments as quite often what we do is we fall of a cliff and we try to build a plane on the way down.  That’s what a lot of people’s lives are like, Mike.  Let’s talk – let’s again review a little bit of an exercise concerning conscious choice and mindfulness that everyone can do.  Mike, have you ever participated in a mindfulness moment?

Mike:    Personally, or as a group?

Jim:    Personally.

Mike:    Personally, I think all the time.  Anytime I just kind of step back and just observe.  I’m trying to just step back and mindfully eat.  Then my wife realizes I’m ignoring her and paying attention to my hamburger.  You know, something like that.  Especially – and I think people do, and not know that’s what it is.  Taking that time and starting to observe the people around you, for instance, especially if you’re stuck on that train in rush hour or something like that.  Or, sometimes I will – as you know, I have a bit of a commute when we meet for another work thing once a week, and that is – to me, you talk about solitary confinement – that’s the only time I’m by myself in a thing.  Even though I work alone a lot, but that seems so confining to me because I can’t do a lot of other things.  I have to drive.   And, I have to deal with that.  So, I start observing.  I start paying attention to nice days – seeing the blue sky, noticing the bridge that isn’t there anymore that they just imploded.  Things like that.  And, I’ve really kind of turned that into a different kind of space and moment, and get some mindful use out of that.

Jim:    Well, sure.  And, quite often when we talk about people who have a mindfulness moment, it’s often said well, focus on a picture, or focus on a thought.  Focus on a rock.  Focus on your finger.  Focus on the end of your nose.  However, for some people this becomes difficult and our minds tend to wander after a short period of time.  So, I’m here to suggest something to everyone that could possibly be of help.  And, that’s a flame meditation.  Have you ever heard of a flame meditation, Mike?

Mike:    No.  I haven’t.

Jim:    So, imagine – let’s take a small candle.  Just a candle.  We light it, and we have a flame, do we not?  Okay.  The flame flickers, and the flame moves, does it not?  Does it draw your eye toward it then?

Mike:    Yeah.

Jim:    Which makes you focus.  A flame also has different types of colors that it goes through as it combusts.  So, you have something that you can really focus on, to shut out everything else.  Try to shut off the internal chatter, the noise that’s going on between your ears.  So, I would suggest to anybody that’s having a difficult time keeping their mind focused for a particular length of time – even as long as thirty (30) seconds, try the flame meditation.  Focus on the flame.  I think that you’ll find that your mind is drawn to it.  What do people do when they – do people like to sit around bonfires?  What do they look at?

Mike:    They’re looking at the flames, watching the shapes and the colors and how the light settles on everything because it’s something different than a fluorescent bulb that we’re typically around.

Jim:    It draws your eye, does it not?

Mike:    Mm-hmm.

Jim:    So, that’s a focus.  When people gather around a fireplace and they put on a fire, what do they do?  When they’re around a fireplace, are they watching TV?

Mike:    Nope.

Jim:    What are they doing?

Mike:    They’re chatting usually.  

Jim:    They’re chatting and they’re watching the fire.

Mike:    Making pot pies.

Jim:    Indeed.  

Mike:    Sorry.  That was a little off there.

Jim:    So, it’s a focal point that you can concentrate on.  It’s certainly a help.  So, what we’re trying to do is make a conscious observation.  So, Mike, could you imagine turning your mind into a search light?  Turning your mind into a spotlight?  

Mike:    Okay.

Jim:    Imagine our minds being a search light.  And, searching out the particular moment.  A search light’s a strong light, is it not?  It’s focused, is it not?  It’s not diffused.  It focuses right on the particular target.  We can train our mind to be a search light also.  What we want to do is we want – to practice this we look for mindfulness markers.  Whenever your phone rings, you take a moment – a brief moment of mindfulness.  When you’re at a stop light, a brief moment of mindfulness.  When you’re – when somebody calls your name, a brief moment of mindfulness.  Whenever you rise out of a chair, a brief moment of mindfulness – some mark or some type of cues that can go throughout your day.  Remember, we’re trying to break a lifetime of repeated patterns and behavior, Mike.  So, Mike, could you tell me the difference between mindfulness and concentration?

Mike:    Concentration – you’re focusing in on a topic, on a thought.  You’re processing something.

Jim:    Exactly.

Mike:    It’s your brain – it’s the gears turning, as they say.

Jim:    So, how often in school did your teacher tell you to concentrate?  

Mike:    Every day.  Meanwhile, I am practicing mindfulness as I’m staring off into space and watching the interesting patterns on the ceiling.

Jim:    What I used to focus on was the clock.

Mike:    There’s that.  Yeah.

Jim:    The clock when I was in school – hoping it would turn faster.  However, what concentration does, it focuses our attention.  Much like a camera, Mike.  You do video work.  Do you focus?  You focus a camera, right?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    So, in the same way, you’re concentrating the lens, are you not?

Mike:    Sometimes you shift that focus from one object to another within your scope and frame.

Jim:    Indeed.  So, with concentration, it’s akin to focusing a lens on a camera.  We’re concentrating, and we’re focusing the attention.  In this case, your mind.  Focusing our mind, much like the lens on a camera.  And, again, it brings our mind into a focus.  However, Mike, it’s mindfulness that is the state of awareness.  Concentration can help us focus.  Mindfulness lets us become aware.  What good is focus without awareness?  When we’re like that – have you ever done something, Mike, or sat back in retrospect and thought to yourself, what was I thinking?  

Mike:    Yep.  Do you need an example?

Jim:    Let’s say that you made a purchase, okay?  And, then you get home and you say what was I thinking? 

Mike:    Yeah.  You’re caught up in the moment.

Jim:    Or, you made a comment to somebody and said, oh, what was I thinking?  Or, let’s say you were trying to impress someone, and you made some comment and you got back what was I thinking?

Mike:    And, sometimes, that’ll wear on you as you keep thinking about that moment and why did you make that moment.

Jim:    Indeed.  Again, these are blind impulses, are they not?  They’re blind impulses, which is the total opposite of mindfulness – which is the total opposite of concentration, which leads to focus, which leads to awareness.  What we’re talking about is a progression.  Again, today, Mike – we went over some basics.  We went over some things.  And, what I would like everyone to take away from today – 1) is the simple tools – particularly the flame meditation.  I would like to talk about the concentration.  I would like to talk about the concentration leading to focus, leading to awareness.  The next time, what we’re going to do when we get together, Mike, is we’re going to talk about thought.  And, we’re going to talk about addiction.  So, to prepare for next time, Mike, what is an addiction?  

Mike:    It’s getting to this point where the choice has been taken away from you and there’s a piece of your brain that you’re not terribly in control of making that decision for you.

Jim:    What was that key word there that we always talk about?  Time and choice.  

Mike:    Choice.

Jim:    So, addiction is not necessarily drugs or alcohol.  Addiction is when we no longer have a choice.  What we’re going to talk about that time, is we’re going to talk about how to deal with our addiction to thinking.  And, through mindfulness what we can do about it, to liberate, to enhance our lives.  So, until then, Mike, we’ll be together once more.  

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