The Berzin Archives

The Buddhist Archives of Dr. Alexander Berzin

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The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003


Many people suffer from imbalanced sensitivity. Either they are insensitive to themselves or to others, or they are hypersensitive and overreact. Moreover, in responding to others, they may lose sight of the effect on themselves. They may be out of touch with their feelings or overwhelmed by emotions. The fast pace and associated tensions of modern life aggravate their imbalance. Many people have difficulty coping.

In 1998, Snow Lion published my Developing Balanced Sensitivity: Practical Buddhist Exercises for Daily Life. This textbook presents a sensitivity training course to help treat these problems. Comprising twenty-two exercises, the course is suited for both guided workshops and practice at home. Designed for people from any background, the program is particularly useful for those in helping and teaching professions. It also addresses modern Buddhists who have reached a plateau in their practice. Such persons often appreciate fresh material to help them more fully integrate their meditation and study into daily life.

Having led sensitivity workshops around the world, I have seen the need for supplementary training materials. To help follow the exercises, particularly when practicing at home, people find it useful to have a printed step-by-step outline before them during training sessions. I have prepared this handbook to fulfill that need. To obtain maximum benefit, trainees need to familiarize themselves with the explanations and complete instructions found in the textbook before undertaking an exercise for the first time.

In addition, I have seen the usefulness of dividing the training program into two courses: basic and advanced. Therefore, I have extracted four exercises from the first edition of the textbook and appended them to the handbook for advanced practice.

I wish to thank the Kapor Family Foundation for funding the preparation of this work. I am also deeply grateful to Cate Hunter for her encouragement throughout the project.

Alexander Berzin
Berlin, Germany
July 14, 1999