Nonjudgmental Mind

Greetings and welcome to another continuing episode of Fishing Without Bait, a podcast dedicated to enabling people to live life without definitive expectations where we set ourselves up for disappointment, and we set ourselves up for frustration.  

Jim:    Tonight I’m joined again by my producer and my friend, Mike.  Mike, as we continue on – this would be our eleventh (11th) podcast, tell me how your conception of mindfulness has either changed, evolved, or remained the same.

Mike:    I was exposed to a lot of before our podcast of course, with our dealings from day-to-day here. It’s really kind of solidified in my mind.  I’ve kind of worked  - how do I deal with this day-to-day.  I think we’ve talked about a lot of examples of exactly how to apply this.  That’s been the biggest takeaway I’ve had from the last ten (10) episodes.

Jim:    What we’re trying to do is help people to live life out loud, to experience life in a way where we actually participate in it.  To give an example for that, Mike, I was dealing with a particular individual in my job as a Behavioral Health Therapist, and this person was dealing with a particular type of psychosis where he was dealing with sights, sounds, images – that were perhaps overwhelming to him.  In this particular case, rather than try to teach him to block these things out, or to make them go away, pretend they weren’t there as some other modalities do, what he and I worked on was realizing how beautiful his mind was.  And, the fact that he experienced life more intensely than others was a true gift.  What we worked on was saying, “How many people would love to be in your position?  How many people have spent thousands of dollars on CDs, on going to gurus, reading self-help books, going to all types of seminars?”  Where he had this – he has this particular ability.  What we do is be mindful about the thoughts and be mindful about the images, sights and sounds that he experiences and understand them in a way where they become acceptable and beautiful to him.  Where we experience that intensity of life, we tend to focus it and view it as a gift rather than a hindrance.  That’s what we try to do in our world – in our trip through the mindfulness experience.  And, one of the things that hold us back from – so let’s say some of the things that hold you back from some of the things that you like to do, Mike.  Think of some of the things that you’d like to do in your life and some of the things that are holding you back.

Mike:    Mostly it’s fear – fear of putting myself out there and not being ready for things.  We’ve talked about fear as a really big motivator for holding yourself back.  

Jim:    Sometimes when we’re trying to get through a house there may be some locked doors, correct?

Jim:    And, if we don’t have the keys to those doors and open them, we can’t get through to our intended goal.  Can we not?  Or sometimes like we’re traveling in an elevator.  Perhaps we want to get to a certain floor, and we get near that floor and the elevator stops.  Or, when we get to the certain floor where we’d like to go and we see that the intended goal on the other side – the light or whatever happiness, peace, serenity, and the door only opens halfway and we can’t get through.  That would be an obstacle, would it not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    And, one of the obstacles on a mindfulness journey is being judgmental – having judgmental thoughts and having judgmental views, which is one of the most challenging issues to deal with on our mindfulness journey.  Mike, how many judgments do you make, let’s say an hour?

Mike:    About myself?  About the people around me?  I’m in an office now, so there’s a lot of people walking by and I’m wondering what’s going on with them.  Certainly, I think that we always have to have a thought about whatever is in front of us, right?

Jim:    Certainly.  We’re trained to do that, and that’s the way our mind is hard-wired to go.  

Mike:    Or even talking about if you’re walking through a city neighborhood you have judgments about – I’ve always grown up being afraid of the city.  And then, anybody you walk by, I’m like, “Is this person going to be a problem I’m going to walk by?”  There’s that.  And, maybe that’s unfair in some cases.  

Jim:    So when you meet an individual for the first time, Mike, someone says, “Oh, I’d really like to meet Mr. X.”  And you meet Mr. X, and you sit down across from that person.  How often can you remain completely neutral about that person in front of you?

Mike:    Usually if I’m meeting somebody, it’s wondering if I can do business with them.  I’m turned to 11 trying to figure the person out.

Jim:    So, when you look at somebody’s shirt, or somebody’s haircut, or somebody’s glasses how often are you completely neutral?

Mike:    Unfortunately, not often.

Jim:    We generally have some type of a comment on that in our mind.  Basically, Mike, there are two (2) types of judgments.  There are judgments that discriminate – discriminate between whether something is good or bad in a way that’s beneficial.  If you were a gardener and you were going out and picking produce to bring in to your supper table for your family to eat, and one was a nice shiny, red tomato – looks succulent and juicy.  And, the other one you picked was shrunken and had wormholes in it.  Would the ability to judge there by useful?

Mike:    Certainly.

Jim:    So, you wouldn’t be neutral on that, would you not?

Mike:    No.

Jim:    So the ability to discriminate that, the ability to pick out good food, the ability to discriminate – let’s say art work – the ability to discriminate between an original painting and a fake.  That would be a valuable tool, would it not?

Mike:    Certainly.

Jim:    Discriminations are necessary.  Being able to discriminate and judge is definitely a wonderful thing.  If you were up in an airplane, and you were going to jump out and you were going to take a skydive, and, you were given a parachute.  Would it be wise mind to be able to discriminate to see and judge whether the parachute was in the actual parachute bag itself?

Mike:    I would hope so.

Jim:    So, what we’re talking about – again, there are judgments that are necessary and beneficial and helpful in our life.  Just like when you want to cross a busy street.  There’s judgment involved in there, is there not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    There’s judgment about whether or not the street is safe to cross, which can certainly help you.  There are also judgments that evaluate, Mike.  And, those are the judgments that we want to take a wise mind and be the observer of.  Generally when we evaluate we’re determining something that is good or bad, are we not?  

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    So, it’s something that is good and bad.  And, it may not even be reality.  It’s according to our perception.

Mike:    This is where we can kind of create our own worlds and our won dos-and-don’ts when it comes to that, right?

Jim:    Absolutely.  When we describe something as either good or bad, Mike, we’re actually describing how something is going to turn out and whether something is going to be good or bad.  Let’s take bias.  Let’s take racial discrimination.  Let’s take religious discrimination.  Let’s take sexual orientation discrimination.  Those lifestyles or faiths, whatever, they’re termed as good or bad, are they not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    And, what is the basis of that, Mike?

Mike:    Opinion.  Experiences.  Preconceived notions, I think.

Jim:    And also, either good or bad is on the perspective of the individual, is it not?

Mike:    Right.

Jim:    You have a neighbor next door, and they’re going to have a picnic that day.  They’re going to have a bit of a family reunion in their back yard and it rains.  How would they view the rain?

Mike:    Unfortunately, because I’m sure they want this beautiful, sun-soaked day that they can enjoy outside, and then the rain just washes away their dreams and their view of the day – their perfect day that they wanted.

Jim:    So, you live next door, and your lawn has been turning brown because of the lack of rain.  And, it rains.  How do you view the rain?

Mike:    Finally, I can green up this lawn.

Jim:    Right.  So, which one is correct?

Mike:    None.  It’s whatever’s right to them.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So, the ideas of good and bad are in the eyes of the observer, are they not?  And, it’s a matter of perspective.  You’ve heard of the old tale about five (5) blind men that there’s an elephant in front of them, and each one of them grab a different part of the elephant.  One grabs a tail.  One grabs a trunk.  One grabs a leg.  One grabs a tusk.  They would all have different views and different descriptions and different opinions of what that particular beast is, would they not?

Mike:    That’s right.  The object is a lot bigger than what they can perceive with their hands.

Jim:    Right.  And, again, let’s say an idea is you’re a sheep herder.  And, you’re guarding sheep.  You’re herding sheep.  A wolf comes – a hungry wolf comes, and grabs one of your sheep and drags it away.  How would you view that wolf?

Mike:    The wolf has caused me a bad day.

Jim:    The wolf is bad.  The wolf is evil, is it not?

Mike:    It is my rainy day.

Jim:    Absolutely.  The wolf is your enemy.  However, when that wolf takes that sheep back home – back to its children, its pups, what would the pups think of that?

Mike:    It’s a good day.  Dad brought us food, yay.

Jim:    Absolutely.  So judgments are a matter of perspective.  So what we’re going to be exploring in this continuing series of judgments is the ability to be non-judgmental and what that means toward mindfulness.  So, in this particular episode, Mike, what I wanted to do was introduce the concept of judgments that discriminate and judgments that evaluate.  I would like everyone out there, as their homework assignment as we usually give, is when you judge I would like you to step back and say whether that’s a discriminating judgment or whether that’s an evaluating judgment.  And, again, what that does, Mike, is actively allows you to participate in the moment.  And, we certainly invite any comments, criticisms, questions, as always for our program.  And, my friend and my producer, Mike, will let you know how you can contact us in the future.  

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.