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Home > eBooks > Unpublished Manuscripts > The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity > Exercise 7: Shifting Our Focus from Mind and from Ourselves to Mental Activity

The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003

Part II: Uncovering the Talents of Our Mind and Heart

Exercise 7: Shifting Our Focus from Mind and from Ourselves to Mental Activity

I. While looking around the room

  • Relax physical tension by sitting with your back straight and your shoulders down
  • Release mental and emotional stress by imagining them leaving with the breath, or simultaneously arising and disappearing like writing on water, or passing like swells on the ocean
  • Look slowly around the room and listen to whatever noises there might be
    • Recognize the mechanism of your mental activity: simultaneous production and perception of the sights, sounds, and thoughts of your experience
    • Look and listen with an understanding of this mechanism, with a feeling for it, and then with joint realization and feeling
  • Note that mental activity occurs without a concrete "me" or a concrete mind passively observing or actively controlling it
    • Look and listen with an understanding of this absence, with a feeling of no self-consciousness, and then with both
  • Note that although you do not exist as a concrete boss in your head, you are still accountable for what you experience
    • Look and listen with an understanding of your accountability, with a feeling of it, and then with both
  • Note that the contents of your experience change each moment – both the appearances your mental activity produces and the mental factors that accompany your perception of them
    • Look and listen with an understanding of flowing change, with a feeling of it, and then with both
  • Note that what you experience is particular to yourself alone
    • Look and listen with an understanding of the individuality of your experience, with a feeling of it, and then with both
  • Note that your mental activity forms a continuum and that what you perceive, think, and feel now will affect your future experiences
    • Look and listen with an understanding that you will experience the effects of your mental activity, with a feeling of this, and then with both
  • Repeat several times the sequence of looking and listening with a joint understanding and feeling for each point, one at a time, by using the key phrases
    • "producing and perceiving appearances"
    • "no observer"
    • "no controller"
    • "and yet accountable for what I experience"
    • "changing appearances"
    • "changing mental factors"
    • "particular to myself alone"
    • "I experience the effects of my mental activity"
  • Look and listen with a joint understanding and feeling for an increasingly larger number of these points simultaneously, by using first two, then three, four, five, and finally all six key phrases
    • "producing and perceiving appearances"
    • "no self-consciousness"
    • "accountable"
    • "flowing change"
    • "particular to me"
    • "I experience the effects"

II. While focusing on someone in person

1. Repeat the procedure while sitting in a circle with a group and focusing on one or on several persons, whichever is more comfortable, being sure that each person moves his or her head or shifts position from time to time and occasionally changes facial expression

2. Repeat the procedure while facing a partner

III. While focusing on yourself

1. Repeat the procedure while looking in a mirror, also being sure to move your head and change your expression from time to time, and then occasionally looking away or closing your eyes

2. Repeat the procedure, alternately looking at a series of photos of yourself and closing your eyes

[ Corresponding Chapter 7 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity]