Dealing with other people

Noah 42, modified 11 Years ago.

Dealing with other people

Posts: 19 Join Date: 4/12/10 Recent Posts
Hi all,

I'm having a real hard time dealing with people in daily life. That's not at all surprising, because ever since I came out of my self-isolating pot addiction I'm suffering from social anxiety. So having anxiety around people is to be expected.

However, it seems as if i've become a lot more sensitive to other people's emotions, or their 'vibe', since I've started doing vipassana practice, about two years ago.

I'm wondering if this is indeed a result from vipassana practice and familiar to other practicioners, or if I'm just being totally unstable and more aware of it (or both, for that matter).

For example, I might have a fairly good day, and then driving to work with my collegue who, sadly enough, is extremely stressed out, her stress and worry will hit me really hard, making me feel bad and depressed in turn.
Or someone might snare at me out of dissatisfaction or envy or whatever negative emotion and it will hit me like an arrow in the chest, startling me, affecting me pretty badly.

The other way round is also true. I'm teacher and my cheerful, totally free of worry pupils can easily make my day and bring up positive emotions (although these eradicate soon enough due to all the depressive stuff of my own).

Is this grown sensitivity to other people's mind state something that comes with vipassana practice? Or might this be darknight negativity sipping through making me overly sensitive?

Any advice on how to deal with this stuff would be great.

Cheers,
Noah
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J Groove, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Hi Noah.
I don't think this is unusual at all. I've heard other practitioners describe feeling this way. If you don't already do tonglen, the Tibetan giving-and-taking practice, this seems like a good thing to try. You could just do a Google search for the instructions on how to do the practice, if you're not already familiar with it. There's something kind of beautiful about what you describe, but it will cause you suffering if you're too embedded or identified with the different emotional storms as they come and go, IMHO.

Another thing that seems helpful would be to be careful, as always, not to build too much of a storyline around your own openness. It might be the case that one minute you are relatively impervious, and another you are extremely open and empathetic. But the thought, "I am so influenced by the emotional comings and goings of others" could become a fixed thing. Don't know if that makes any sense.
Best regards,
-J
Noah 42, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 19 Join Date: 4/12/10 Recent Posts
HI J,

Thanks for your reply. I guess your right, there is something beautiful to it, but indeed at this moment it makes me suffer.
I'll try out the tonglen meditation! It seems a lot like metta for difficult times, it might just be very helpful. Thanks for the tip.

CCC, we're on a totally different level here. It might just be inexperience, but I'm not at all at the point where i can tell what chakra would be 'open' or wich one 'closed', and i don't even know how to imagine 'working with them'.
I might just read into chakra's a little, thanks a lot for the advice tho.

cheers,
Noah
C C C, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
Noah, I don't know a lot about meditation, not experientially anyway. I do know a fair bit about psychology however, and how it relates to the energy centres of the body. So maybe we're just on different pages of the same book.

You can diagnose a chakra's state by reading about what sort of symptoms occur when balanced/imbalanced (sort of indirect and difficult) or you can just close your eyes and think about a particular chakra and see what picture comes into your mind. For example when I put my attention on my 4th chakra, there's not a lot of colour in it (should be green with maybe some pink in it), there's very little movement (should spin), the structure seems ok (like a mesh skeleton without flesh on it), the front projection is a good symmetrical shape, the back projection is broken and incomplete, etc. I can't "see" see them the way that some people can, but I can "know" somehow that's what it looks like.

Working on chakras can be done by a variety of methods including physical exercise, visualization, affirmation, actions, release, grounding, etc. An excellent book for this is 'Eastern Body Western Mind' by A. Judith. So many people write about chakras but this work stands out a mile. The other books I quite like are by Barbara Brennan, mainly because she says she can actually "see" see them and manipulate them with her hands and she has a lot of very interesting illustrations about how the chakras get out of balance. Her books are very complicated and I find them hard to work with in a practical sense but they are still good. They are directed more towards energy practitioners.

I also like Mantak Chia's microcosmic orbit stuff because he goes into detail about how to avoid too much energy ending up in the head, going crazy and all that stuff. Nicely balanced practice.

I just had a look at chakras on Wikipedia. Maybe have a look at that?
J Adam G, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 286 Join Date: 9/15/09 Recent Posts
Should you choose to work with energy practices, I second the recommendation to check out the microcosmic orbit. In fact, I would recommend that over direct work with the chakras to someone unfamiliar with energy-centered practices, because it's more of a "follow the instructions correctly and the process just works right" thing, sort of like vipassana.

In contrast, working with chakras requires familiarity with each chakra. Before you can even become familiar with the chakras, which requires a good deal of work, you have to start out with deciding how many of them you think there are, where you think they are, whether the fronts and backs are the same things or different things, etc. There seems to be more of a barrier to entering chakra work than to entering micro- and macro-cosmic orbit stuff, though it may just be my learning style. Perhaps you would find chakra work easier if you found a great primer on it.
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J Groove, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Isn't the whole chakra thing just a morass of conflicting opinions and systems, not to mention all of the unsubstantiated, magic/mythic BS floating around out there about chakras? Is working with chakras really the best recommendation for someone struggling with difficult emotions and uncertainty about the boundaries between self and other?

I'd like to know more about chakras, but how the heck could anyone sort through the mess of specious information out there and find something that has any validity? Wikipedia on chakras? Can't every New Age practitioner in the world edit that page? I dunno, maybe it's got some good information. I have heard of Montak Chia. Maybe a good place to start, then?
Pavel Oulik, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 88 Join Date: 1/20/10 Recent Posts
Isn't the whole chakra thing just a morass of conflicting opinions and systems, not to mention all of the unsubstantiated, magic/mythic BS floating around out there about chakras?


Yes and no. I have experienced a fair amount of chakra activity during my sits despite not looking, expecting, or wanting to work with this kind of phenomena. The predominant factor of the chakra activity I have been aware of is that it changes with the stages of insight - the first sign of me being in the Dark Night are very hard and heavy sensations on my torso chakras, with some accompanying unpleasant emotions floating around the belly, chest and the solar plexus. At other times there will be a sense of wide open space in some of them, or even (this happened very recently) an inability to access with my focus a small circular area going from the chakra location out into distance.

There is a wonderful and short article on chakras here: http://openenlightenment.org/?p=326

Is working with chakras really the best recommendation for someone struggling with difficult emotions and uncertainty about the boundaries between self and other?


It could be if one was to do insight on them (in sitting practice that is, daily life I am guessing requires more active options too) - the emotions and physical sensations that have made the most trouble for me generally stemmed from this area, I do not know whether other peoples experience is similar. (I actually found it impossible not to pay attention to the torso and later head chakra regions in my insight practice). This would be helpful on the insight front but probably not very helpful (for a while) in normal life.

I have been having a very similar problem myself (that of being intensely aware of other peoples emotions and those emotions affecting me), a solution to which I have not really found. One thing that helps me is not to think of it in this way - instead I observe the emotions that other people experience and understand them to be their own, then I observe my own emotions and understand them to be my own, then I choose what to do according to the situation rather than the emotion. A lot of the time this may suck a lot and a lot of the time the emotions will affect my actions somewhat. But thats all good.

I also found that it helps to learn how to manipulate ones attitude to do whats right in the face of emotional turmoil - as in, to have enough space to make decisions and enough will-power to carry them out even in the face of difficult emotions. This requires a lot of training. (and a lot of mindfulness in order not to permanently suppress or avoid what is going on emotionally)

Well, all the best Noah and let us know when you figure out a solution or a way to work with it, I would love to hear of it.
C C C, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
A wide open 6th chakra combined with a blocked 3rd/4th chakra is a recipe for disaster. See: "real concern about a friend" thread for an extreme example. Can I suggest going back a few steps? I know exactly what you're describing and it helped me. My 6th chakra is quite open (not sure why but it is) and my 3rd/4th were very dysfunctional. Work on the 4th in particular has helped my overall balance.

I suspect (though haven't proved yet) that the Dark Night thing is totally avoidable. I reckon the body's energy gets redirected after the A&P to lower energy centres that have been neglected (commonly the 4th chakra). It's like the body says "what are you doing trying to get freedom? You don't even love yourself!! Back you go! "Do not pass 'GO', do not collect $200!!" as the game of Monoploy dictates! So if the heart chakra is healthy, I just have this feeling you will totally bypass Dark Night, let alone recycling through it over and over.
Pavel Oulik, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 88 Join Date: 1/20/10 Recent Posts
Perhaps one more thing:

While it is not always appropriate to do insight in these day-to-day situations, it can be educational to pay attention to the habitual emotional/physical reactions that occur moment-to-moment in these situations and when being around people who project these strong emotions. As in, there are very specific things that will happen when around anger, fear, force, sadness,... All of these are observable and it may be very helpful insight-wise to get accustomed to watching out for them - there will be constriction, holding, stopping, forcing and other physical phenomena that make these emotions appear more unpleasant than they actually naturally are (in Buddhism they are sometimes made fit into 3 general attitudes/actions - aversion/attraction/confusion, even simply watching out for those 3 play out moment-to-moment can be awesome) - there is a whole myriad of reactions that take practice and strong insight skills in order to be noticed (and it is worth it to do so). Some reflection after these things have happened may make it easier to make a decision on how to relate/behave in these situations in the future - as in, having the equanimity to act wisely comes from not reacting to the occurrence of these strong emotions while they occur, but it helps to be decided on what it means to act wisely. Also, it helps to realize that rather than taking on the emotions of other people, it is more to do with reacting to the emotions of other people. This is observable moment-to-moment.

I hope that this helps and I hope that you will have fun in your practice. Its not all pleasant but it is all worth it and from a certain perspective even the hard stuff is great.
Noah 42, modified 8 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 19 Join Date: 4/12/10 Recent Posts
Well, as for working with the shakra's or other energy practices, I think I'm with J Groove at this, it might not be the best time for me to extensively dive into new practices like these. I've allready got enough stuff to attend to, and amidst of all confusion it's actually quite comforting to have a clear goal like stream entry accompanied by clear instructions.

But as pavel put it:
Pavel:

I have experienced a fair amount of chakra activity during my sits despite not looking, expecting, or wanting to work with this kind of phenomena.


I've also noticed this. I've become aware of my emotions in places like the low abdomen, the solar plexus, my chest, my throat and my forehead¸ places where I never consciously noticed any sensations before i started doing vipassana practice.
I also noticed the coincedance that these area's are exactly the same places where shakra's are depicted in yoga-flyers and the like. Before that i never took chakra-talk that serious to be honest.

Pavel:

..the first sign of me being in the Dark Night are very hard and heavy sensations on my torso chakras, with some accompanying unpleasant emotions floating around the belly, chest and the solar plexus.

I experience exactly this on very regular basis, almost every day. Damn, it seems there's no denying it: this must be what dark night feels like. Oohh, the misery ;-)

Pavel:

One thing that helps me is not to think of it in this way - instead I observe the emotions that other people experience and understand them to be their own, then I observe my own emotions and understand them to be my own, then I choose what to do according to the situation rather than the emotion. A lot of the time this may suck a lot and a lot of the time the emotions will affect my actions somewhat. But thats all good.


Thanks, that sounds like very workable advise, i'll see if this can get me somewhere.


Pavel:
Perhaps one more thing:

(...) there will be constriction, holding, stopping, forcing and other physical phenomena that make these emotions appear more unpleasant than they actually naturally are (in Buddhism they are sometimes made fit into 3 general attitudes/actions - aversion/attraction/confusion, even simply watching out for those 3 play out moment-to-moment can be awesome) - there is a whole myriad of reactions that take practice and strong insight skills in order to be noticed (and it is worth it to do so). (...)


Thanks alot also for this advise, also very workable. I'm not sure if my skills are strong enough yet to notice alot of this but I'll start to look out for it.


Thanks so much for thinking along guys, I really appreciate it.

And some fun is definately coming up in a few days, as next wednesday I'll be flying to malaysia to visit the MBMC for a week or four. First time for me to meditate longer then the 10 day goenka treat, so i'm quite excited. Let's see how much closer this can get met to stream entry.

Cheers,
Noah
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J Groove, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 59 Join Date: 9/9/09 Recent Posts
Best of luck with your practice, Noah, and in dealing with the challenge of this new receptivity to others' emotions.
Pavel, thanks for that article--I've just read it and it is indeed very interesting. That's the most rational take on chakras I've ever run across.
C C C, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 946 Join Date: 3/9/10 Recent Posts
'Light Emerging' is the name of the book, actually one of two, by Barbara Brennan. She has others but that's pretty darn brilliant.

If you want rational, she is the perfect author. She used to be a NASA scientist. She also sees and feels and can manipulate these chakras in other people. But if you have strong aversions to people who do courses and sell CD's (because you have your own issues about money and trust), then best stay away. Not everything with a commercial flavour is rubbish, you have to be very discriminating.

In relation to the number of chakras, what they look like, anterior and posterior projections, etc. it's a bit like the various streams of Buddhism. There's lots of slight variations on a theme. The consensus figure is 7 but that's the main ones, with lots of other smaller ones in the hands and feet and face.
Crazy Wisdom, modified 11 Years ago.

RE: Dealing with other people

Posts: 45 Join Date: 7/5/10 Recent Posts
I started having the same problem and asked my teacher about it. He said that he solved it by simply bringing mindfulness to the fact that these were not his emotions or energies. My mindfulness abilities are not much to speak of but I tried it an it worked well as long as I could be mindful of it. THey energies then just become phenomena I observed and a way of reading other peoples states. Previously the energies blended with my own and could become almost inseparable and then bring me down but with mindfulness that stopped. My practice now is much less intense than it was at the time so now I am not sensitive enough to be bothered much by it anyway.

A bunch of traditions that center more around energy work have techniques to protect you from the negative energies of others be it those sent involuntary or willed "psychic attacks". They seem to involve building sort of auric fields of protection. Healers also often know such techniques. I know that Michael Lomax who teaches Stillness Movement Qigong does this and I know that guys that teach Kundalini Awakening Process (Glenn Morris`system) teaches it. At least they teach it in their psychic self defense course but I am guessing they also teach something in KAP 1 or 2 or both. If you feel that this is something you want to do I am pretty sure you could get private lessons on skype or phone on how to do it. If you already have a fairly advanced meditation practice making something like this work once you are taught the right technique should be quite easy.

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