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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

Part I: Dealing Constructively with Sensitivity Issues

Exercise 2b: Generating Care

I. While focusing on someone not present

1. While focusing on a photo or on a thought of someone with whom you have or have had a warm and loving relationship involving few regrets

  • Focus on the person and create a quiet mental space by using the threefold approach as before
  • Regard the person in light of the statements:
    • "You are a human being and have feelings,"
    • "Just as I do."
    • "The mood you are in will affect our interaction,"
    • "Just as my mood will affect it."
    • "How I treat you and what I say will further affect your feelings."
    • "Therefore, just as I hope that you care about me and about my feelings in our interaction,"
    • "I care about you."
    • "I care about your feelings."
  • Generate and direct toward the person a caring attitude, by repeating after the group facilitator, or by saying aloud by yourself, the key sentences
    • "I am not going to make up or tell any stories about you."
    • "You are a human being and have feelings."
    • "I care about you."
    • "I care about your feelings."

2. Repeat the procedure while focusing on a photo or on a thought of a mere acquaintance

3. Repeat the procedure while focusing on the magazine pictures of anonymous people

4. Repeat the procedure while focusing on a photo or on a thought of a loud, overbearing relative

II. While focusing on someone in person

1. Repeat the procedure while sitting in a circle with a group and focusing on each person in turn at each step

2. While facing a partner, first with someone of your same sex and then with someone of the opposite gender

  • Repeat the entire procedure
  • One partner repeats the four key sentences, while the other partner listens
    • The speaker focuses on caring about the listener
    • The speaker then focuses on feeling someone accepting his or her sincere concern
    • The listener focuses on feeling the speaker's acceptance and care
  • Switch roles
  • The partners alternate repeating each of the key sentences, while focusing on being both the giver and recipient of each feeling

III. While focusing on yourself

1. Repeat the procedure while looking in a mirror

  • Substitute,
    • "I am a human being and have feelings,"
    • "Just as everyone else does."
    • "How I regard and treat myself affects my feelings,"
    • "Just as how others regard and treat me affects how I feel."
    • "Therefore, just as I hope that others care about me and about my feelings in our interactions,"
    • "I care about myself."
    • "I care about my feelings."
    • "I care about my feelings toward myself."
    • "I care about how I treat myself."
  • Substitute the key sentences
    • "I am not going to make up or tell any stories about myself."
    • "I care about myself."
    • "I care about my feelings."
    • "I care about my feelings toward myself."
    • "I care about how I treat myself."
  • Repeat the key sentences while directing a caring attitude toward yourself in the mirror
  • Repeat the key sentences while trying to feel accepted and cared about by yourself

2. Repeat the key sentences without a mirror

  • Aim your caring attitude directly at yourself
  • Try directly to feel accepted and cared about by yourself

3. Repeat twice the procedure used with pictures of other people, while looking at two photographs of yourself from different periods in the past, one for each round

  • Substitute,
    • "I was a human being then and had feelings,"
    • "Just as I have now."
    • "How others regarded me then affected those feelings."
    • "Therefore, just as I hoped that others cared about me and about my feelings then,"
    • "I care now about myself then"
    • "I care about my feelings then."
    • "I care about my feelings now about me then."
  • Substitute the key sentences
    • "I am not going to make up or tell any stories about myself as I was then."
    • "I care about myself then."
    • "I care about my feelings then."
    • "I care about my feelings now about me then."
  • Imagine the person in the photo accepts your care and thanks you for not thinking badly about or being ashamed of him or her
[ Corresponding Chapter 2 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity.]