Author Topic: Social anxiety and meditation  (Read 467 times)

jolead

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Social anxiety and meditation
« on: August 26, 2020, 05:05:47 AM »
Morning

I suffer from social anxiety and have been advised that a good portion of the problem is concentrating on yourself. I need to shift my focus onto my surroundings. I've been attempting a breathe meditation for some time for mindfulness but in relation to my self focus I think it actually makes the situation worse. Can anyone recommend a meditative technique that concentrates on your surroundings.

Thanks in advance

stillpointdancer

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Re: Social anxiety and meditation
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2020, 10:40:41 AM »
The Metta Bhavana meditation starts with wishing yourself well, but then moves on to wishing others well. It's a good way to extend mindfulness practice away from your breathing to the well-being of others.
“You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait, be quiet, still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” Franz Kafka

Darsel

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Re: Social anxiety and meditation
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2020, 02:03:49 PM »
Good Morning
The key to meditation is the breathing techniques.  In the early stages, focus on things you are grateful for and then start visualizing the life you want for yourself, one of which can be a person that is confident about themselves.


Alex

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Re: Social anxiety and meditation
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2020, 11:23:36 AM »
Morning

I suffer from social anxiety and have been advised that a good portion of the problem is concentrating on yourself. I need to shift my focus onto my surroundings. I've been attempting a breathe meditation for some time for mindfulness but in relation to my self focus I think it actually makes the situation worse. Can anyone recommend a meditative technique that concentrates on your surroundings.

Thanks in advance

Hi jolead

Allthough I understand your reasoning to look for external object of meditation, the reasoning is not wise.

The body-mind dynamics that underly the social anxiety you're experiencing (e.g. the heightened self-focus) will pop up in whatever meditation you will do. After all, it is our body-mind that organizes our experience, in social situations, as well as in meditation, right?
Meditation, is not about bypassing or escaping these dynamics, but on the contrary familiarizing yourself with them, which leads to insight, which leads to freedom.There is no control or force involved.

Before investigating these dynamics more closely, the first step is preparing the body-mind to do so, i.e. cultivating a calm and focused body-mind. This is done in calm abiding meditation (see instructions on homepage) or “breath meditation”. It is the best place to start.

As said, the underlying dynamics will become visible in your experience. If you want, we can explore it here in more detail. What is your experience while meditating? And what makes you say that meditation makes the situation worse?
If you don't wish to go into more detail, that's fine too. ;)

Kindly
Alex

Goofaholix

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Re: Social anxiety and meditation
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2020, 11:24:40 PM »
Mindfulness/Vipassana meditation is very much turning your attention on yourself, if you turn your attention to something external it's not Mindfulness/Vipassana meditation.

It's a much healthier attention than the self absorbed attention that is probably producing self anxiety for you.  Firstly you break down experiences to smallest components and observe them as they change, then you see them objectively as not me not mine.

It's possible you might not be ready to do that yet, in that case the suggestion of Metta Bhavana is a good one.

dharma bum

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Re: Social anxiety and meditation
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2020, 01:56:32 PM »
It is very hard to say such and such thing will work. But maybe it will help to understand how mindfulness works. When you're watching your mind, you are strengthening the part of your mind that is doing the observation. Observing something requires you to step out a bit. So when you observe that you are anxious you are stepping out slightly from the anxious mind. Over course of time you observe that feelings of anxiety, anger, pleasure come and go. Over the course of several days, you get these feelings several hundreds of times. They come and go. It is like weather. But the key here is that you have to do mindfulness without expectations. This is the hardest part for me. If you keep checking every day if your anxiety is less, then it is counter-productive.
Mostly ignorant

Alex

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Re: Social anxiety and meditation
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2020, 10:59:49 AM »
Right view is important, as suggested by dharma bum, that’s why I find it important to stress that meditation does not work for us… we work with the meditation. The learning happens when the rubber meets the road.
Also, regarding right view, the importance of relaxation is underestimated. That’s why calm abiding is a good place to start for most people. Learning to steady attention on the relaxing qualities of the (out)breath throughout the whole body, relaxing the body-mind. Only then can you see properly.

If it is too difficult for someone, then I would say that he/she probably lacks proper instructions or guidance.

Regarding metta... it requires being able to tune into a certain quality of love/brightness that is not accessible when body-mind is fight/flight mode. So here as well one would need to first work with the dynamics that continually trigger this threat-and-control system. Working with an image that represents the qualities of metta might be helpful, but even then, there is skill to be developed to hold that image in a skillful and fruitful way. And imho not a beginner practice.

Matthew

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Re: Social anxiety and meditation
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2020, 09:05:08 PM »
Hello jolead,

You wrote:

Quote
I've been attempting a breathe meditation for some time for mindfulness but in relation to my self focus I think it actually makes the situation worse.

Can you say a bit more about the technique of meditation you have used? What do you actually do as a practice?

Welcome to the forum,

Matthew
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

Whoami

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Re: Social anxiety and meditation
« Reply #8 on: September 09, 2020, 02:39:13 PM »
Morning

I suffer from social anxiety and have been advised that a good portion of the problem is concentrating on yourself. I need to shift my focus onto my surroundings. I've been attempting a breathe meditation for some time for mindfulness but in relation to my self focus I think it actually makes the situation worse. Can anyone recommend a meditative technique that concentrates on your surroundings.

Thanks in advance

I have a suggestion. First i think meditation is good for you, to become an observer instead of living ”inside” all the thoughts and emotions that come with social anxiety.
But here is my suggestion:

Wouldn’t meditating in a group class be good for you? Because i assume that alot of you anxious thoughts and emotions occur around people right? So being in an environment where there are other people could trigger those, and by meditating you could learn to handle them. Right? :)

Dhamma

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Re: Social anxiety and meditation
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2020, 01:59:23 AM »
I suffer from social anxiety, even though I am not a shy person. Social anxiety and shyness are not at all the same thing.

I have improved a bit in the past few years.

I developed social society in my mid-twenties. I did issues delivering speeches in my high school and university years because I feared ridicule. But that was the extent of it. When I got to be about 26, I had full-blown social anxiety. I'm much better with my social anxiety when I am out of my hometown/area. When I go to another country, or get around more like-minded people, my social anxiety gets 60-80% better. But relocating was always key for me, but I cannot move at this very moment (plan on it in the next months or year) .

I just try to see it differently. Social anxiety is something I experience - it's not something I "have."
 
I always wanted to be comfortable around the town and area I grew up in, but have never managed. I've noticed slight changes for the better, but they're very, very subtle (but still a great thing).  I get light-headed and a fast heartbeat around certain people if they argue with me, or if I have to interact with someone who gives me a hard time, particularly if it's a local person who is at least middle-aged. Hard to explain.

I practice Shambavi Mudra  (focus on 3rd chakra while meditating) + Tibetan yoga exercises (some visualizations, too).  I have learned to just be with it, no matter that it persists. Fighting it surely can only make it worse.

You're not alone, friend. Every one has their struggles: for some, it's addiction, depression, prison, grief, etc. Well, for me, samsara has me dealing with social anxiety. But it's okay.  Life is just a movie that we're watching. We need not get too engaged with it, in the sense that we take it too seriously.

Will I be free from it someday? It would be super. But, if not, I accept. All I can do is "just be" and accept everything, no matter how unpleasant it can be.  I must say, though, it is probably best for me to relocate so I suffer less with social anxiety. It's common sense. That said, moving will not make me escape samsara in any way. It may only make my social anxiety a lot better. Happiness is nothing external, which includes a physical location that you prefer (nothing wrong with preferring a place, but you get my point from a Buddhist perspective).

Much love in the Dhamma :)
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 03:12:30 AM by Dhamma »
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