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Home > eBooks > Unpublished Manuscripts > The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity > Exercise 20: Relaxing Triplistic Appearances of Mind's Natural Functions

The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003

Part V: Advanced Training

Exercise 20: Relaxing Triplistic Appearances of Mind's Natural Functions

I. Focusing on a person or on some situation from your life

  • Create a quiet, caring space
  • Recall situations in which you grasped for security based on projecting and believing in the triplistic appearances of your mental activity's natural facets, such as in the following examples
    • For practice in a workshop, choose one syndrome for each of mind's seven natural functions
    • When practicing at home, do the same or work only with personally pertinent examples
    • For advanced or thorough practice, consider all the cited variations
  • Recall any insensitivity to others' feelings or hypersensitivity to the situation that may have accompanied your experience
    • If you have never experienced some of the examples, recall someone you know who suffers from these syndromes and imagine what it must be like
  • Regret the suffering your imbalance may have caused
    • Resolve to avoid recurrences of it
  • Recognize the triplistic appearance involved, in one of two forms
    • (1) a seemingly concrete agent "me" who hoped to gain security by grasping at, avoiding, or drowning in (2) a seemingly concrete activity directed at (3) a seemingly concrete object
    • (1) a seemingly concrete object or recipient "me" who hoped to gain security by grasping at, avoiding, or drowning in (2) a seemingly concrete activity performed by (3) a seemingly concrete agent.
  • Recognize that your mind has projected this fantasy onto a wave of experience and that the winds of your karma have churned the wave into something monstrous
    • Recognize the absurdity of the fantasy
    • Picture the projector in your mind shutting off and dissolving
    • Imagine the winds of your karma becoming still
    • Relax your grasping or your fear
    • Imagine the wave of the experience no longer seeming monstrous – it begins to settle and you arrive at the underlying nontriplistic experience of a wave of one of mind's natural qualities
    • Realizing that waves of activity can never disturb the depths of the ocean of your mind, imagine engaging nontriplistically in the deconstructed activity, without self-consciousness, tension, or worry
    • Imagine experiencing the action as a wave naturally arising from clear light mind and naturally settling back into it
  • Recall someone else acting in the same disturbing manner toward you
  • To defuse your hypersensitive reaction, understand that the person was overlaying one of mind's natural functions with a triplistic appearance, in one of two forms
    • The person was grasping at (1) the seemingly concrete activity in order to gain security from being (2) the seemingly concrete agent of it, when directed at you as (3) its seemingly concrete object
    • The person feared (1) the seemingly concrete activity as a threat when you as its (2) seemingly concrete agent directed it at him or her as (3) its seemingly concrete object
  • Deconstruct your triplistic experience of the person's action, by using the image of the projector shutting off and dissolving, the winds of karma stilling, and the wave settling
    • Direct compassion at the person, by wishing him or her to be free of the suffering that his or her confusion creates
    • Imagine responding appropriately and nontriplistically with balanced sensitivity
  • To abbreviate the practice, choose one illustration for each syndrome, or just work with personally pertinent examples

1. Physical activity

  • To dispel feeling that you always need to be doing something
    • The scene – having a wonderful conversation at the dinner table
    • The triplistic feeling – a seemingly concrete servile "me," the seemingly concrete unbearably dirty dishes, and the seemingly concrete imperative task of washing them
    • The nontriplistic response – enjoying the rest of the conversation and cleaning up only when the talk is over
    • The nontriplistic response to someone acting like this – telling the person it is all right to do the dishes later
  • To overcome ordering others around
    • Seeing a relative sitting idly in front of the television
    • A seemingly concrete police officer "me," a seemingly concrete lazy bum, and a seemingly concrete productive action to justify a person's existence
    • Asking the person to do something only if there is an urgent task, otherwise being patient
    • Calmly telling the person you are enjoying the program, or simply getting up if there is something urgent
  • To stop expecting someone always to do things for you
    • Sitting at the table and noticing that you do not have a napkin
    • A seemingly concrete aristocrat "me," a seemingly concrete servant "you," and the seemingly concrete act of someone catering to another's need
    • Getting it yourself
    • Politely telling the person you are in the middle of eating, or getting the napkin if you are finished
  • To overcome fear of doing something
    • Needing to change the ink cartridge in your printer
    • A seemingly concrete incompetent "me," a seemingly concrete overwhelming machine, and a seemingly concrete impossible task
    • Trying to figure out how to do it yourself and only seeking help if all else fails
    • Patiently guiding the person through the task or, if the person cannot do it, offering help
  • To dispel feeling uncomfortable to accept someone doing something for you
    • Sharing the driving with someone on a long motor trip
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who is not in control, a seemingly concrete "you" who has all the power, and a seemingly concrete terrorist act of someone usurping command
    • Sitting in the passenger seat and not making the other person feel nervous by commenting on his or her driving throughout the trip
    • Making sure that you are driving safely

2. Verbal expression  

  • To overcome insisting on having the last word
    • Listening to someone say something that you disagree with
    • A seemingly concrete threatened "me," a seemingly concrete challenger "you," and the seemingly concrete act of speaking, which would have the power to restore one's integrity
    • Adding something only if it is constructive
    • Listening silently, with patience
  • To quiet the insistence that someone talk to you when he or she has little to say
    • Someone visiting you and hardly speaking
    • A seemingly concrete unloved "me," a seemingly concrete rejective "you," and the seemingly concrete act of speaking words that could prove one's affection
    • Enjoying the person's silent company
    • Reaffirming that there are many ways to show love
  • To dispel shyness at speaking up
    • Having to make a report to your organization
    • A seemingly concrete moronic "me," a seemingly concrete judgmental "you," and the seemingly concrete act of opening one's mouth and thereby proving one's inadequacy
    • Delivering the report so that others can hear you
    • Gently excusing yourself for being unable to hear
  • To stop feeling uncomfortable with others' words
    • Someone saying something politically incorrect
    • A seemingly concrete self-righteous "me," a seemingly concrete bigoted "you," and a seemingly concrete act of speaking narrow-mindedly
    • Suggesting a more sensitive way of speaking if the person is receptive, or holding your tongue if he or she thinks you are too touchy
    • Accepting correction with patience and gratitude

3. Sensory or mental experience 

  • To overcome the compulsive drive to indulge your senses
    • Being at a buffet
    • A seemingly concrete "me" about to face execution, a seemingly concrete "last meal," and a seemingly concrete act of eating that could somehow make one's life worthwhile
    • Leaving several dishes behind once you are full
    • Suggesting before the person goes for a second helping that you come again when you get hungry
  • To stop feeling that you need others to know everything about you
    • Sitting next to someone on an airplane
    • A seemingly concrete, extremely important and interesting "me," a seemingly concrete "you" who was dying to know my life story, and a seemingly concrete affirming act of knowing a person's vital information
    • Telling others only what is necessary for them to know and confiding only in those whom you can trust
    • Gently changing the topic of conversation
  • To dispel feeling uncomfortable with sensory experience
    • Having a conversation with someone
    • A seemingly concrete inadequate "me" sitting behind my eyes, a seemingly concrete "you" who will discover and surely reject this "me," and the seemingly concrete act of looking in someone's eyes as a way to expose the person's true self
    • Maintaining normal eye contact during the conversation
    • Not insisting that the person look at you
  • To dispel fear of being the object of others' sensory experience
    • Having close body contact with a crowd on a subway
    • A seemingly concrete virginal "me," a seemingly concrete filthy "you," and a seemingly concrete disgusting act of physical contact
    • Experiencing the sensation and letting it pass
    • Shifting positions, if possible

4. Expression of warm concern 

  • To overcome compulsively expressing affection
    • Seeing your partner or child
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who is starved for love, a seemingly concrete "you" who must be similarly starved, and a seemingly concrete act of expressing love that can fill the empty hole inside
    • Saying "I love you" only at appropriate times
    • Responding warmly and sincerely, "I love you too."
  • To overcome grasping to receive affection
    • Seeing your partner or child
    • A seemingly concrete "me" whom nobody loves, a seemingly concrete "you" whose love I wish were real, and a seemingly concrete act of expressing and thereby affirming affection
    • Asking for a hug only at appropriate moments
    • Hugging the person if the time and place are appropriate and, if they are not, telling the person you will hug him or her later when the situation is more comfortable
  • To dispel feeling uncomfortable at expressing affection
    • Seeing a loved one who needs reassurance of your feelings
    • A seemingly concrete self-sufficient "me," a seemingly concrete imposer "you," and a seemingly concrete act of expressing affection as a threatening demand
    • Saying "I love you" and sincerely meaning it
    • Understanding that the person does not need to verbalize his or her love in order for you to be reassured of it
  • To dispel discomfort at receiving affection
    • Being kissed by a loved one
    • A seemingly concrete grown-up "me," a seemingly concrete degrading "you," and a seemingly concrete act of expressing love as something childish
    • Accepting the show of affection warmly and responding in kind
    • Showing your love in nonphysical ways

5. Expression of energy  

  • To stop feeling it necessary to assert your will
    • Going out for dinner with friends
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who must control what happens, a seemingly concrete "you" who must be directed, and a seemingly concrete act of asserting energy to gain secure domination
    • Being open to other suggestions
    • Unless there is a good reason to object, graciously accepting
  • To overcome feeling the need for others to focus on you
    • Visiting or living with someone engrossed in the television or in the computer
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who needs attention to establish his or her worth, a seemingly concrete "you" whose attention is vital, and a seemingly concrete act of directing energy that can affirm the existence and worth of its object
    • Developing interest in the program, or gently reminding the person that there are other things in life
    • Including the person in what you are doing
  • To overcome feeling afraid to assert yourself
    • Being with someone behaving outrageously toward you
    • A seemingly concrete unworthy "me," a seemingly concrete "you" whose acceptance is crucial, and a seemingly concrete act of expressing energy as something unreasonable
    • Being more assertive
    • Gently encouraging the person to speak up
  • To dispel your fear of others' energy
    • Visiting someone who always complains
    • A seemingly concrete threatened "me," a seemingly concrete depressing "you," and the seemingly concrete act of emitting draining energy
    • Listening to the complaints and letting the energy pass through you
    • Easing off

6. Rest  

  • To overcome grasping for a break
    • Feeling overwhelmed at work
    • A seemingly concrete exhausted "me" who is not myself, a seemingly concrete refreshed "me" who is myself, and a seemingly concrete act of resting that can bring the metamorphosis
    • Calmly looking forward to the weekend, but not longing for it
    • Improving the work situation, if possible
  • To quiet grasping at receiving a break from others
    • Your parents pressuring you to find a job or to get married
    • A seemingly concrete victim "me," a seemingly concrete oppressor "you," and a seemingly concrete act of respite that will solve all one's problems
    • Acknowledging their concern and calmly explaining what you have been doing and why
    • Giving the person time and space to be alone
  • To overcome being afraid to take a rest
    • Having a lot of work at the office when it is time for your vacation
    • A seemingly concrete irreplaceable "me," seemingly concrete work that no one else can do, and the seemingly concrete irresponsible act of taking a break
    • Letting someone else handle your work or letting it wait until you return
    • Reassuring the person that everything will be fine while he or she is away
  • To quiet your fear of abandonment
    • Being sick and no one calling or visiting you
    • A seemingly concrete abandoned "me," a seemingly concrete uncaring "you," and a seemingly concrete act of lying in bed, forsaken
    • Enjoying the peace and quiet
    • Telling the person of your intention not to call and not to visit while he or she has a total rest

7. Expression of pleasure  

  • To overcome grasping for pleasure
    • Being bored and switching endlessly through the television stations
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who requires constant amusement, a seemingly concrete program that provides complete entertainment, and a seemingly concrete act of enjoying pleasure
    • If you find something interesting, enjoying it without switching stations; and if nothing interesting is on, shutting the set
    • Finding a reasonable compromise of what to watch
  • To quit compulsively striving to win others' approval
    • Doing something just to please someone, such as taking a prestigious, but boring job
    • A seemingly concrete inadequate "me," a seemingly concrete "you" on a pedestal, and a seemingly concrete act of showing pleasure with someone as an affirmation of worth
    • Making choices that feel comfortable and that are right for you
    • Encouraging the person to make his or her own decisions and assuring your love no matter what choice the person makes
  • To stop being afraid to have a good time
    • Being at an office party
    • A seemingly concrete proper "me," a seemingly concrete undignified dance, and a seemingly concrete degrading act of expressing pleasure
    • Dancing and enjoying yourself like everyone else
    • Accepting the person no matter what he or she does
  • To dispel feeling uncomfortable to accept others being pleased with you
    • Someone expressing his or her pleasure with your work
    • A seemingly concrete undeserving "me," a seemingly concrete patronizing "you," and a seemingly concrete insincere act of showing pleasure
    • Accepting the approval graciously, saying thank you, and feeling happy
    • Being more relaxed and compassionate with the person so that he or she feels more secure in your approval

II. While focusing on someone in person

  • While facing a partner, do the following without a triplistic feeling of a seemingly concrete "me" encountering a seemingly concrete "you" through involvement in a seemingly concrete act – in other words
    • without feeling self-conscious
    • without being nervous of the person
    • without worrying about your performance or about being accepted
    • being totally receptive and accepting of the person and of yourself
    • being nonjudgmental
    • without making mental comments
  • If triplistic feelings of nervousness or self-consciousness arise, follow the same procedure as in the first phase of the exercise to deconstruct them
    • Imagine the projector of fantasy in your mind shutting off and dissolving
    • Picture the winds of your karma stilling
    • Imagine the wave of the experience seeming no longer monstrous
    • Feel the wave settle back into the ocean of your mind
  • If various positive or negative feelings arise, also feel them pass like a wave on the ocean, without grasping at or fearing them
  • Practice the sequence first with someone of the opposite sex, then with someone of the same gender
    • If possible, practice with persons of each sex who are your own age, then younger, then older - first all three of the opposite sex and then all three of the same gender as yourself
    • Among these persons, include people from different cultural or racial backgrounds and alternate working with people you know and those who are new to you
    • Note the different levels of self-consciousness and nervousness you experience with people in each category
  • Create a quiet, caring space
  • Hold your hand for a few moments to accustom yourself to nontriplistic sensations
  • Massage the person's shoulders, experience being massaged, and then sit face to face and massage each other's shoulders simultaneously
  • Speak to the person from your heart for a few minutes about how you have been the last few days and what you have been feeling, and then listen to the other person do the same
  • Gently look in the person's eyes, without feeling you have to say or do anything, while the other person does the same – completely accept each other
  • When it feels right, express your warmth to the person, and then accept the other person doing the same
    • Take the person's hand, give him or her a hug, or say "I really like you," whichever feels natural
  • Feel and accept each other's energy
  • Completely relax and sit quietly with each other
  • Feel the joy of being in each other's presence

III. While focusing on yourself

1. Repeat the procedure used with someone in person, without a mirror or photos of yourself

  • Smooth your hair
  • Speak to yourself in your mind about how you need to work harder or to be more relaxed
  • Hold your own hand reassuringly
  • Show yourself warm concern by stretching your legs if you are sitting crossed-legged or by loosening your belt
  • Feel your own energy, without being frightened
  • Totally accept yourself, relax fully, and sit quietly without feeling lost, restless, or bored
  • Feel the joy of simply being with yourself and enjoy your own company
[ Corresponding Chapter 18 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity.]