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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 3: Imagining Ideal Sensitivity

I. While focusing on someone from your life

1. While focusing on a photo or on a thought of someone toward whom you have or have had a positive relationship

  • Create a quiet, caring space through applying the threefold quieting procedure while focusing on the person, and through thinking
    • "You are a human being and have feelings."
    • "I care about you."
    • "I care about your feelings."
  • Quiet your mind of preconceptions and nonverbal judgments, by letting go of them with your exhaled breath and by feeling their presence to be as if through a process of writing on water
  • Similarly, release all feelings of self-importance
  • Similarly, feel no solid walls exist between you preventing heartfelt communication
  • Similarly, feel no fear
  • Feel joy at the possibilities of the encounter
  • Focus attentively on the person
  • Be warm and understanding
  • Exercise self-control against destructive tendencies
  • Show appropriate facial expression and body language
  • Imagine responding with kind words and thoughtful actions
  • Repeat several times the sequence of directing each state of mind at the person, by using the key phrases
    • "no mental stories"
    • "caring concern"
    • "no judgments"
    • "no self-importance"
    • "no solid walls"
    • "no fears"
    • "joy"
    • "focus"
    • "warmth"
    • "understanding"
    • "self-control"
    • "facial expression"
    • "kind words"
    • "thoughtful actions"
  • Feel
    • "How wonderful it would be if I could become like this."
    • "I wish I could become like this."
    • "I shall definitely try to become like this."
  • Look at a photograph of a shining example of balanced sensitivity or simply picture the person in your mind
  • Request inspiration
  • Imagine warm yellow light radiates from the figure and fills you with inspiration
  • Imagine the figure dissolves in your heart
  • Feel glowing with inspiration

2. Repeat the procedure twice, up to and including repetition of the key phrases, while focusing on a magazine picture of a different anonymous person each time

3. Repeat the procedure while focusing on a photo or on a thought of a loud, overbearing relative or of an obnoxious neighbor or fellow worker

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. Repeat the procedure while facing a partner

III. While focusing on yourself

1. While looking in a mirror

  • Create a quiet, caring space
  • Release fixed attitudes and self-judgments
  • Dispel fantasies of self-importance
  • Feel no solid walls exist preventing you from relating to yourself
  • Feel no fear
  • Feel joy at the possibility of being open and relaxed with yourself
  • Focus attentively on yourself
  • Be warm and understanding
  • Exercise self-control against self-destructive tendencies
  • Soften your facial expression
  • Imagine speaking kindly to yourself and treating yourself thoughtfully
  • Repeat the key phrases as before

2. Repeat the procedure without a mirror

3. Repeat the procedure twice, while looking at a photograph of yourself from a different period in the past each time

  • Create a quiet, caring space
  • Release fixed attitudes and self-judgments
  • Dispel fantasies of self-importance
  • Feel no solid walls exist preventing you from relating to yourself
  • Feel no fear
  • Feel joy at the possibility of being open and relaxed with yourself
  • Focus attentively on yourself
  • Be warm and understanding
  • Exercise self-control against self-destructive tendencies
  • Soften your facial expression
  • Think kind thoughts of forgiveness
  • Repeat the key phrases:
    • "no mental stories"
    • "caring concern"
    • "no judgments"
    • "no self-importance"
    • "no solid walls"
    • "no fears"
    • "joy"
    • "focus"
    • "warmth"
    • "understanding"
    • "self-control"
    • "facial expression"
    • "kind thoughts of forgiveness"
[ Corresponding Chapter 3 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity.]