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How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?

How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?
stream entry social anxiety
Answer
7/5/18 10:39 AM
I am very interested in effect that Stream Entry has on social anxiety. Any experiences and opinions are welcome.

RE: How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?
Answer
7/5/18 12:45 PM as a reply to Griffin.
Reports vary widely. I have heard of exampled where stream entry radically reduced various forms of anxiety, and other instances of it not doing so, and everything in between. I also know some people who are way past stream entry yet still have social anxiety of various forms, as well as some with depression and the like.

Why do you ask? Is eliminating social anxiety or dealing with it a primary motivator for insight practice? Do you wish to share something about your thoughs on social anxiety, as well as what you have tried and what did or didn’t help?

RE: How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?
Answer
7/5/18 5:42 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
Reports vary widely. I have heard of exampled where stream entry radically reduced various forms of anxiety, and other instances of it not doing so, and everything in between. I also know some people who are way past stream entry yet still have social anxiety of various forms, as well as some with depression and the like.

Why do you ask? Is eliminating social anxiety or dealing with it a primary motivator for insight practice? Do you wish to share something about your thoughs on social anxiety, as well as what you have tried and what did or didn’t help?

Hi Daniel, thank you for your answer! Does this mean that amount of suffering during social anxiety could remain exactly the same, or is it like "the physical sense of anxiety is still there, but it is not causing suffering any more, it's just like the weather, even entertaining (like riding the roller coaster) and there is some new higher layer of perspective from which everything is OK and you feel secure deep inside".

I ask this because I think that there is a deep root of my insecurity that cannot be solved just by practicing social skills. So I thought maybe Stream entry would get to that root, because I assumed that illusion of self is the ultimate source of feelings of personal vulnerability/insecurity. (If this is not the case, what practice would help me?)

I wouldn't say eliminating social anxiety alone is my main motivator, but I was curious if Stream entry would reduce stress in communication, because of this: if my goal is elimination of suffering, not necessarily developing my communication abilities, is meditation more useful than practicing social skills in this regard? Or could it happen that, no matter how much insight I get, I am going to suffer in the same way and feel the same amount of insecurity when I stop meditating and go out? (PS all this sounds like my anxiety is severe, it is only mild, but never mind).

RE: How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?
Answer
7/5/18 11:31 PM as a reply to Griffin.
I am not making any claims to stream entry, but I have had a lot of social anxiety in my life, and found some ways to deal with it. Feel free to ignore this reply if it is too unrelated to meditation...these are just some thoughts on what I have found personally useful.

The anxiety exists for a reason (your history). When you go searching for perspective, that history is going to come at you full-force. Your rational mind might tell you a story about how it's not really a big deal, and you should just get over it, but we both know you don't really believe that story. It has not been conditioned in you like the other one has.

These approaches don't work (at least not at a deep level):
- trying to lessen the anxiety or protect yourself from it
- trying to rationalize the anxiety away
- trying to be happy with the anxiety
- developing better social skills

Most therapists will encourage you to do these. It all sounds good in theory, because this is how we are socialized, but if you really examine it, they just can't work. As you have pointed out, the concept of the self is at the root of all of this, and if you are going to insist on taking the self so seriously, there's no way out.

The only thing that seems to work is to take the time and energy you are spending on those projects, and instead redirect it to something that is *actually* important to you. This is a radical perspective shift, and your mind might convince you that this is completely impossible. If you try it, you will see why and how that happens.

Your mind doesn't like contradictions and cognitive dissonance, but *you* can learn to embrace those, and you might find a great deal of freedom from the mind if you do. Have you heard of "shame attacking" exercises? This is a psychotherapeutic technique where you basically go out into public and do something extremely stupid (but harmless), for the sole purpose of learning to feel shame without identifying with it. I tried this, and I will say that it is very powerful.

I have had a few events in my life that have exposed a real "glitch in the matrix". I don't know how to force those to happen, but if you can increase the chances, it's probably helpful. Can meditation do this? I'm not really sure. I've seen it while meditating, but I have not had any apparently life-altering events while meditating. But, I have high hopes for meditation, because it seems like a fairly consistent and gentle way to practice these skills.

One type of therapy that I have found personally helpful is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). I found that this book is well-written and has some great exercises in it, even if you don't suffer from depression: https://www.amazon.com/Mindfulness-Acceptance-Workbook-Depression-Commitment/dp/1626258457 You can also look up the "ACT Matrix", which is very direct tool for practicing this perspective.

I hope some of that is helpful. I would be curious to hear the perspective of those who are further along than I am, too.

RE: How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?
Answer
7/6/18 10:30 PM as a reply to spatial.
I’ve had some success in reducing the impact anxiety has on my life, which then reduces the anxiety itself. I am well beyond stream entry, but it took a long time for my system to begin to calm down. For many years anxiety was my big issue. It isn’t gone by any means, but it’s diminishing.

For example: I have been phobic about driving on highways, which has restricted where I’ve been willing to go, although at times I would just go ahead and damn the torpedoes. I recently noticed that it doesn’t really bother me any more, even when I can feel myself getting a little anxious. Advanced practice is the only thing that has knocked it out. In my blog, I talk about anxiety in several of the posts, and plan to talk about it more. 

RE: How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?
Answer
7/7/18 1:00 AM as a reply to Griffin.
It's really interesting to see the different ways people are wired.  Everyone's different and YMMV, of course.  As a caveat, I'm not even sure what I experienced was stream entry, but I suspect it was.

I had really bad social anxiety issues.  I was very shy/avoidant ever since I was a kid and also had really low self-esteem.  I absolutely hated public speaking, and whenever I had to do it, I would write down exactly what I was going to say in advance and practice it over and over until I could say it without thinking.  Then I just had to get over the initial burst of fear without voice-shaking, etc. and get into auto-pilot mode and I was okay.  But there were multiple times when I didn't clear that initial hurdle and sounded like an opera singer for the whole presentation.  It was ridiculous.  Just talking in a mid-sized group or larger was difficult due to all the anxious thoughts that would start up and snowball.

That all vanished practically overnight and hasn't returned since January 2017.  I still don't enjoy public speaking and am not great at it, but I can do it without anxiety or embarrassment.  And while I still feel drained after being in large crowds, etc. the nervousness is gone.  Self-consciousness and other anxieties in general have also pretty much disappeared.  Things are so much more peaceful than they used to be, and it's a tremendous improvement.

To be clear, life is not constant bliss or happiness or anything of the sort, but I never even imagined it was possible to be like this.

RE: How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?
Answer
7/7/18 2:51 AM as a reply to Griffin.
I would say it depends on the cause of the anxiety. While I don't know about stream entry, I think that as a general principle that if something is caused by cognitive factors it can be helped much more by mental techniques like meditation than if it is caused by organic factors. There are always exceptions and cognitive and organic can be related. But if someone has a genetic or developmental disorder that afffects the nervous system, meditation might help somewhat in various ways, but it might be impractical to expect to be able to completely cure it through a mental technique alone. 

I think it is also worth pointing out that not everyone can attain stream entry - for lots of different reasons - so for that reason alone one might consider it impractical to look to it as a possible solution.

When you read an article about how meditation helped this, or meditation helped that, try to understand 1) how they measured the effect, and 2) how large was the effect. Sometimes the scientists or doctors doing a study measure a small effect in a few people, but when you read the article in the newspaper you walk away with a misimpression that everyone was cured.

RE: How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?
Answer
7/9/18 6:20 AM as a reply to Griffin.
Take care not to fall into the trap of thinking "before stream entry I am a self who has social anxiety and after stream entry I will be a self that is free from social anxiety." 

I am not suggesting you have fallen victim to such a thing nor am I minimizing the anxiety you currently experience.  Any amount of suffering can be a wonderful gate to practice.

I once heard a Zen teacher encourage students to realize that one can feel anxiety without becoming anxious, feel fear without becoming fearful.  This is a less precise way of saying what Daniel is constantly encouraging people to do: clearly see the sensations making up experience.  In that clear seeing there will likely be a measure of freedom as less self gets built into the experience through the minds habitual identification with sensations.  Looking for any or all three of the three characteristics while clearly seeing the sensations of the experience will likely lead to an additional layer of freedom and of course is a necessity for ongoing strong practice.

All that said, it is possible, likely even, that a considerable chunk of the suffering will break off at stream entry with tendencies towards the anxious state still arising during more charged experiences or when the body and mind are under greater stress.

RE: How does Stream Entry affect social anxiety?
Answer
7/9/18 7:25 PM as a reply to Griffin.
If you want to deal with social anxiety I would see a psychologist. Learning about boundaries helps.

Another method is Inner Bonding, where you become protective of yourself so you don't self-abandon with others or let yourself become engulfed by others.

http://psychreviews.org/spiritual-bypassing-and-inner-bonding/