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Home > eBooks > Unpublished Manuscripts > The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity > Exercise 22: Dissolving Disturbing Emotions into Underlying Deep Awareness

The Sensitivity Handbook: Training Materials for Developing Balanced Sensitivity

Alexander Berzin
July 1999
Revised February 2003

Part V: Advanced Training

Exercise 22: Dissolving Disturbing Emotions into Underlying Deep Awareness

I. While focusing on a photo or on a thought of someone from your life

Procedure
  • Choose someone toward whom you have felt or are currently feeling one of the disturbing emotions – you may need to choose a different person for each emotion
    • For practice in a workshop or at home, choose one form of disturbing emotion for each of the five types of deep awareness
    • For advanced or thorough practice, work with all the disturbing emotions associated with each of the five types of deep awareness
  • Create a quiet, caring space
  • Acknowledge and regret the pain that your imbalance may have caused the person
  • Resolve to try to overcome these problems
  • Recognize the dualistic feeling behind the disturbing emotion as based on sheer fantasy
  • Deconstruct it
     
    • Relax completely
    • As you feel your tension easing, feel the and its accompanying disturbing emotion releasing themselves, by using the image and feeling of the clenched fist of your mind slowly opening
    • Try to feel the clenched fist of physical tightness in your chest and gut also relaxing and opening
    • Try to feel that tightly grasping the dualistic appearance and disturbing emotion was like tightly clutching a color image printed on water
    • Feel your mind, emotions, and feelings are now clear
  • Recognize and rest in the corresponding form of underlying deep awareness
  • Look at a photo or merely think about someone who has felt or is currently feeling the same disturbing emotion toward you
  • Follow the same procedure to deconstruct your overreaction
  • Rest in the underlying form of awareness
  • Feel compassion for the person, who does not relax and contact his or her deep awareness
Examples

1a. Naivety about cause and effect

  • The person and your disturbing attitude toward him or her- a small child in front of whom you naively felt that fighting with your partner would not matter
    • The dualistic appearance – a seemingly concrete "me" acting in a vacuum and a seemingly concrete entity unaffected by surroundings
    • The underlying deep awareness – awareness of reality with which you see the effects of your actions, and mirror-like awareness taking in the information that is clearly there
  • The person and his or her disturbing attitude directed at you – someone saying something painful about a loved one you recently lost, naively unaware that his or her words would upset you
    • Your dualistic feeling – a seemingly concrete poor "me" who has been hurt by a seemingly concrete cruel "you"
    • The underlying deep awareness – mirror-like awareness of the reality that your loved one is gone, although no one can deny that this is sad

1b. Naivety about reality

  • Someone who told you something about him or herself that you have difficulty accepting or that you have naively denied, such as that he or she is getting older and now tires more easily
    • A seemingly concrete "me" for whom things are as I imagine them to be and a seemingly concrete "you" who matches my dreams
    • Mirror-like awareness of the information that the person has told you and awareness of the person's reality
  • Someone who naively refused to accept the truth about you, for instance that you are not romantically interested in him or her
    • A seemingly concrete "me," about whom everything is obvious, frustrated by a seemingly concrete blind "you"
    • Mirror-like awareness of your actual feelings about the person

2a. Self-aggrandizing arrogance

  • Someone to whom you feel superior in one way or another
    • A seemingly concrete superior "me" and a seemingly concrete inferior "you"
    • Equalizing awareness of the two of you as human beings
  • Someone who feels he or she is better than you are
    • A seemingly concrete maligned "me" insulted by a seemingly concrete arrogant "you"
    • Equalizing awareness of the two of you as human beings

2b. Inordinate esteem of others

  • Someone whom you aggrandize as superior to you in one way or another
    • A seemingly concrete inferior "me" and a seemingly concrete superior "you"
    • Equalizing awareness of the two of you as human beings
  • Someone who aggrandizes you as superior to him or her
    • A seemingly concrete, perfectly normal "me" imposed upon by a seemingly concrete, preposterous and tedious "you"
    • Equalizing awareness of the two of you as human beings

3a. Stinginess

  • Someone with whom you did not want to share something
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who would be deprived if this seemingly concrete undeserving "you" were to share what I have
    • Equalizing awareness of the two of you as people who could partake of something
  • Someone who was unwilling to share something with you
    • A seemingly concrete, poor deprived "me" and a seemingly concrete selfish "you"
    • Equalizing awareness of the two of you as human beings

3b. Destructive self-denial in favor of others

  • Someone for whose sake you wanted to deprive yourself of your own fair portion of something in order to give the person more than he or she needed or even wanted
    • A seemingly concrete unworthy "me" and a seemingly concrete, more deserving "you"
    • Equalizing awareness of the two of you as human beings, equally deserving fairness
  • Someone who has kept little or nothing for him or herself and given you more than your due share of something
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who deserves this and a seemingly concrete "you" who owes it to me, or a seemingly concrete undeserving "me" and a seemingly concrete "you" who owes me nothing
    • Equalizing awareness of the two of you as human beings, equally deserving fairness

4a. Longing desire to possess someone

  • Someone whom you long to possess in one way or another
    • A seemingly concrete deprived "me" who desperately needs to have a seemingly concrete enticing "you"
    • Awareness of the person as an individual or of some of his or her specific qualities
  • Someone who longs to possess you
    • A seemingly concrete endangered "me" being hunted by a seemingly concrete pursuing "you"
    • Awareness of the person as an individual

4b. Longing desire to belong to someone

  • Someone to whom you wish you belonged, for instance as a life partner or as an employee
    • A seemingly concrete "me" for whom self-worth and fulfillment only can come from this seemingly concrete "you" including me in his or her intimate circle
    • Awareness of the person as an individual or of some of his or her specific qualities
  • Someone who longs to be your partner and for you to include him or her in all aspects of your life
    • A seemingly concrete claustrophobic "me" imposed upon by a seemingly concrete demanding "you"
    • Awareness of the person as an individual

5a. Clinging attachment to possessing someone

  • Someone, for instance your preadolescent child, whom you have treated as a fledgling and tried to keep in the nest
    • A seemingly concrete incomplete "me" who cannot live without a seemingly concrete "you" as my baby always under my close supervision
    • Awareness of the person as an individual
  • Someone, perhaps in your family, who clings to you as his or hers to control
    • A seemingly concrete threatened "me" being oppressed by a seemingly concrete manipulative "you"
    • Awareness of the person as an individual

5b. Clinging attachment to belonging to someone

  • Someone to whom you cling as the person to whom you belong and whom you are terrified may abandon or fire you
    • A seemingly concrete insecure "me" whose only hope for protection from hardship is a seemingly concrete savior "you"
    • Awareness of the person as an individual
  • Someone emotionally dependent on you who clings with attachment and is paranoid that you will abandon him or her
    • A seemingly concrete victimized "me" being drained of resources by a seemingly concrete vampire "you"
    • Awareness of the person simply as an individual

6a. Jealousy

  • A new boyfriend or girlfriend of your previous partner
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who deserves my old partner back and a seemingly concrete "you" who does not merit the honor of her or his company
    • Awareness that the person has accomplished having your old girlfriend or boyfriend as his or her partner
  • Someone who is jealous of what you have achieved
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who deserves what I have gotten and a seemingly concrete "you" who does not deserve the same
    • Awareness that you have accomplished what you have through cause and effect

6b. Self-depreciation and guilt with what one has

  • Someone whom you feel is more deserving of what you have than you are
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who does not deserve what I have and a seemingly concrete "you" who deserves it more
    • Awareness that you, not the other person, have gained or achieved what you have through cause and effect
  • Someone who feels that you are more deserving of what he or she has than he or she is
    • A seemingly concrete insulted "me" being exploited by a seemingly concrete absurd "you" who is trying to alleviate feelings of guilt
    • Awareness that the person has attained what he or she has and that now you may receive part of it

7a. Anger directed externally

  • A political figure whose policies annoy you
    • A seemingly concrete oppressed "me" facing the onslaughts of a seemingly concrete terrible "you"
    • Mirror-like awareness taking in the information of how the person is acting, and awareness of the reality that the person is acting like this and not like that
  • Someone angrily accusing you of something
    • A seemingly concrete innocent "me" and a seemingly concrete unfair "you"
    • Mirror-like awareness of what you have done, and reality awareness of its propriet

7b. Suppressed anger redirected internally

  • Someone who mistreated you, in response to which you blamed yourself and silently redirected your anger inwardly
    • A seemingly concrete guilty "me" and a seemingly concrete "you" who might abandon me if I said anything about the incident
    • Mirror-like awareness of what happened between you, and reality awareness that it was like this and not like that
  • Someone who is afraid to object when you say or do something hurtful, and redirects the anger inwardly instead
    • A seemingly concrete frustrated "me" who is trying hard and a seemingly concrete impossible "you" who is not cooperating
    • Mirror-like awareness of your behavior and the person's response, and reality awareness that the relationship is painful to both of you and not to just you alone

8. Worry

  • Someone about whom you obsessively worry
    • A seemingly concrete helpless "me" facing a seemingly concrete "you" who is out of my control
    • Individualizing awareness of the person and warm concern
  • Someone who constantly worries about you
    • A seemingly concrete suffocating "me" being smothered by a seemingly concrete overbearing "you"
    • Individualizing awareness of the person and concern about yourself

9. Complaint

  • Someone who asked or told you to do something that you did not wish to do
    • A seemingly concrete "me" who is too good to be told what to do by a seemingly concrete "you" who is trying to rob me of my independence
    • Accomplishing awareness of what needs to be done and reality awareness of your ability to do it and the propriety of your doing it
  • Someone complaining about something that you asked him or her to do
    • A seemingly concrete defiant "you" confronting a seemingly concrete innocent "me"
    • Accomplishing awareness of what needs to be done and reality awareness of the person's ability to do it and the propriety of his or her doing it

II. While focusing on someone in person

1. To dispel loneliness, repeat the procedure while sitting in a circle with a group, by looking around at the people and directing the deep awareness at them that is left after deconstructing each disturbing emotion or attitude

  • Deconstruct the naivety accompanying the dualistic appearance of yourself as a seemingly concrete "me," inherently alone, and these people as seemingly concrete, unattainably distant "you"
    • Discover mirror-like awareness taking in the information about them and reality awareness that, with appropriate effort on your part, each could become a friend
  • Deconstruct the arrogance accompanying the dualistic appearance of them as not good enough for you or the low self-esteem of yourself as not good enough for them
    • Discover equalizing awareness considering these people and yourself at the same moment and appreciate the connection that this automatically creates
  • Deconstruct the longing desire accompanying the dualistic dream of each of these people as an ideal friend who can end your loneliness
    • Discover individualizing awareness of each person as having his or her strong and weak points
  • Deconstruct the jealousy accompanying the dualistic memory of someone in the group who was joking with others before the session
    • Discover accomplishing awareness that to form a friendship you also need to approach these people and speak
  • Deconstruct the anger accompanying the dualistic feeling of oppressor and victim when remembering others acting cruelly in previous friendships that failed
    • Discover mirror-like awareness of what took place and reality awareness that your former friends acted unacceptably and not as you would have preferred – appreciate that this does not mean that everyone will inevitably hurt you
  • Deconstruct the dualistic worry that others will dislike you
    • Discover individualizing awareness of each person and caring concern about his or her happiness with you, which is the wish of love
  • Deconstruct the dualistic complaints about having to join a group to meet people
    • Discover the accomplishing awareness that to meet these people, you had to come here, and appreciate the fact that they came too – this affords you an opportunity for friendship

2. To resolve a conflict, repeat the procedure in private while facing someone in the group with whom you have a dispute

  • Deconstruct closed-minded naivety about the person's position into mirror-like awareness of reality
  • Deconstruct arrogance into awareness of both of you as equal and both your positions as equally valid
  • Deconstruct attachment to how you would like things ideally to be into individualizing awareness to evaluate the specifics of the situation
  • Deconstruct jealousy if the person were to get his or her way over certain points into accomplishing awareness to work out a compromise
  • Deconstruct anger into mirror-like awareness of reality to see your differences objectively
  • Deconstruct worry about how the person will respond into concern that he or she be happy with your proposals
  • Deconstruct complaints if the person objects to any points into accomplishing awareness of what needs to be done to accomplish your aim

III. While focusing on yourself

1. To dislodge low self-esteem, repeat the procedure while looking in a mirror

  • Relax the closed-minded naivety of not wanting to accept, for example, that you are old and fat, and focus on your image with mirror-like awareness of the reality of what you see
  • Accompany this with letting go of value judgments and preconceptions of how you should look, by using the breathing method of "letting go" and the image of writing on water
  • Generate caring concern toward yourself, by thinking
    • "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."
  • With mirror-like awareness of reality, look objectively once more at what you see
  • Relax the pride of not admitting that you look like that, and focus with equalizing awareness that whether thin or fat, young or old, each appearance is equally "me"
  • Relax the attachment of clinging to an image of an ideal weight and hair color that is outdated and unrealistic, and focus with individualizing awareness at how you are at this stage in life
  • Relax the envy of how you looked and felt when you were younger, and focus with accomplishing awareness that you gained your previous look and level of energy because of youth and now you can only accomplish what is realistic for your age
  • Relax the anger at having gained so much weight, and focus with mirror-like awareness of the reality that you are old, not young, and fat, not thin
  • Relax the worries about how you look, and focus with warm concern, accepting the situation specific to your age and setting yourself a reasonable goal for losing weight
  • Relax the complaints about having to diet, and focus soberly with accomplishing awareness of what you need to do to reach your goal

2. Repeat the procedure without a mirror, working with your disturbing feelings about yourself

3. Repeat the procedure while looking at a series of photographs of yourself spanning your life, working with your disturbing emotional responses to what you see

 

[ Corresponding Chapter 20 in Developing Balanced Sensitivity.]