Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.
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indianromeo
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Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

Post by indianromeo » Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:29 am

Hey guys so I’ve been fortunate to deeply engage with Satipatthana meditation, and find that mindfulness, the 5 precepts, metta, and the “feeling” meditation have provided me with quite a bit of psychic resourcefulness to achieve my goals and transform my life in a positive way.

On the other hand, and this is the reason for this post, I currently feel pretty discombobulated in social situations — in large part, I believe, due to my meditative experience — and am often unsure of where to place my attention - like I’ve lost all my social instincts, and am relearning all forms of social interaction, with awkward results.

When an alluring temptation presents itself, now, be it music, food, or an attractive person or idea, I resist attaching and sometimes even physically act so as to avoid it.

I’ve noticed that my eye movements have changed and sometimes I blink so as to avoid looking a very attractive woman in the eye, or distract myself from a woman’s voice when she emphasizes particular syllables by blinking.

I also observe my body making motions, sometimes unconsciously, to mimic the sound of words I find uninteresting. As an example, tonight at a post-game dinner with my tennis team, I noticed my leg and sometimes torso, or head move rhythmically at times when people said certain phrases - I can’t be for sure why. Like the way you might move your head when someone is repeating themself and you want to signal annoyance or that you’ve heard them say that before. So like that, but at a more subtle level of movement.

I also often worry that I’m looking in all the wrong places, and noticing all the wrong sounds. Different aspects of social interaction interest me, and I tend to currently avoid too many attachment-inducing moments, like (for example) making deep eye contact, or noticing attractive body parts!

A few months ago, when this was even worse, I thought I might be legitimately schizophrenic. I had socially isolated myself for a time and noticed paranoid thoughts just kind of pervade my thinking. Noises would frighten me, people seemed more suspicious than they actually were. Things kind of turned around once I joined some sports leagues and meetups, but I still don’t feel 100% back to normal - not schizo, but not 100% comfortable either.

I feel I have two options.

1. Turn off the mindfulness completely in social situations, and go with the flow. I would compare this to another post on this site about mindfulness and sex - someone here said it just doesn’t work without being a lust-killer. Turning mindfulness off, however seems challenging, since mindfulness really helps me with work and when I’m alone, so it’s a muscle that’s just hard to turn off.

2. Find an equilibrium, with this, in social situations, and trial and error. So use the muscle and try and understand why I am doing this.

I read at a Dharma Discussion recently about how engaging in meditative practice can sometimes involve a period of time where you feel like you’re standing on quicksand - disoriented. I feel that way, now.

What do people think? If someone were to say “dude I totally understand and it gets better” it would make me feel like 100x better. But honestly any ideas or suggestions would help. I do have health insurance and not afraid to seek assistance from a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. I jut think that starting with the Sangha will help.

Thanks and metta all :-)

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Kim OHara
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Re: Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

Post by Kim OHara » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:07 am

indianromeo wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:29 am
... I feel I have two options.

1. Turn off the mindfulness completely in social situations, and go with the flow. I would compare this to another post on this site about mindfulness and sex - someone here said it just doesn’t work without being a lust-killer. Turning mindfulness off, however seems challenging, since mindfulness really helps me with work and when I’m alone, so it’s a muscle that’s just hard to turn off.

2. Find an equilibrium, with this, in social situations, and trial and error. So use the muscle and try and understand why I am doing this.

I read at a Dharma Discussion recently about how engaging in meditative practice can sometimes involve a period of time where you feel like you’re standing on quicksand - disoriented. I feel that way, now.

What do people think? If someone were to say “dude I totally understand and it gets better” it would make me feel like 100x better. But honestly any ideas or suggestions would help. I do have health insurance and not afraid to seek assistance from a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. I jut think that starting with the Sangha will help.

Thanks and metta all :-)
Okay - dude I totally understand, and it gets better. :smile:
It's true, too, so long as you do step back a bit. Meditation and mindfulness do make us see our old habits and associates differently. Out tastes change, our values change, and then our preferences change too. When you think about it, that is why we started on the path in the first place - to change. But we have to keep a balance between our old life and our new one, or the the changes can be awkward, as you have found.

Option 2 is the better one. Go for it!

:namaste:
Kim

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DooDoot
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Re: Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

Post by DooDoot » Fri Jul 27, 2018 6:28 am

indianromeo wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:29 am
I’ve lost all my social instincts, and am relearning all forms of social interaction, with awkward results.
One needs to relax more & worry less. Recently, I attended a funeral of a person i did not know but wished to pay my respects by attending. While people were chatting everywhere, I just sat most of the time alone and comfortable in my solitude. You need to learn to let go of that paranoia or social expectation. You need to develop the strong self-respect of: "This meditation is what I want to do" and enjoy the calmness, solitude & independence of meditation; even in social situations.
When an alluring temptation presents itself, now, be it music, food, or an attractive person or idea, I resist attaching and sometimes even physically act so as to avoid it.
That's OK. That's what practise is about. Maybe you need to develop more active situational wisdom ('sampajanna') and reflect strongly on the reasons why the food & other sensual pleasures are disadvantageous, harmful and/or bondage. If people ask why you are not eating a certain food, simply honestly reply: "I am watching my diet; trying to eat the right amount of food".
I’ve noticed that my eye movements have changed and sometimes I blink so as to avoid looking a very attractive woman in the eye, or distract myself from a woman’s voice when she emphasizes particular syllables by blinking.
That's OK. Why should you be a slave to the woman? This said, I suggest to practise looking women in the eye, but with equanimity & metta. Try working on this; little by little. My impressions are women like/enjoy metta.
I also observe my body making motions, sometimes unconsciously, to mimic the sound of words I find uninteresting. As an example, tonight at a post-game dinner with my tennis team, I noticed my leg and sometimes torso, or head move rhythmically at times when people said certain phrases - I can’t be for sure why. Like the way you might move your head when someone is repeating themself and you want to signal annoyance or that you’ve heard them say that before. So like that, but at a more subtle level of movement.
The subtle movements occurring with your body only you know. Others generally do not discern this.
I also often worry that I’m looking in all the wrong places, and noticing all the wrong sounds. Different aspects of social interaction interest me, and I tend to currently avoid too many attachment-inducing moments, like (for example) making deep eye contact, or noticing attractive body parts!
Its OK. Cherish your independence. Cherish not being a slave to sense objects.
A few months ago, when this was even worse, I thought I might be legitimately schizophrenic. I had socially isolated myself for a time and noticed paranoid thoughts just kind of pervade my thinking. Noises would frighten me, people seemed more suspicious than they actually were. Things kind of turned around once I joined some sports leagues and meetups, but I still don’t feel 100% back to normal - not schizo, but not 100% comfortable either.
This does sound a little "paranoid" or "over-sensitive". Meditation can make the mind over-sensitive.
I feel I have two options.

1. Turn off the mindfulness completely in social situations, and go with the flow. I would compare this to another post on this site about mindfulness and sex - someone here said it just doesn’t work without being a lust-killer. Turning mindfulness off, however seems challenging, since mindfulness really helps me with work and when I’m alone, so it’s a muscle that’s just hard to turn off.
Turning off mindfulness still does not change the basic ethical or precept requirements of social interaction. You still should avoid unnecessary food and making inappropriate sexual impressions to women. Women enjoy attention given to them (but not necessarily sexual advances).
2. Find an equilibrium, with this, in social situations, and trial and error. So use the muscle and try and understand why I am doing this.
Yes. As I suggested, one has to learn to develop a personal respect in cherishing meditative independence.
I do have health insurance and not afraid to seek assistance from a psychotherapist or psychiatrist. I jut think that starting with the Sangha will help.
I doubt a psychotherapist or psychiatrist would understand. I would avoid this idea. I would try to attend a Dhamma Centre, somewhere. Practice developing meditative social interaction at a Dhamma Centre.

With metta :smile:

paul
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Re: Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

Post by paul » Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:33 am

The experiences you’ve described should be categorised as conventional reality, which are now being seen from the perspective of the four noble truths. However the practitioner can’t expect to be as fully involved in that reality as they were before, as they wouldn't be able to process the amount of information. They have to allocate a greater percentage of time to solitude where they can conduct a review of that raw material, and thereby establish a balance between involvement in the outside world and inner reflection. Every external event has a dhamma truth that can be applied to it, and in finding that application, the implied superiority of conventional reality as opposed to ultimate reality, can be defused and overcome. This is like a physical exercise regime, where they become more skilful with practice and greater challenges appear. This is illustrated visually in the “Victory over Mara’, where the Buddha invokes sila to assume ascendancy. The practitioner cannot negotiate external circumstances unless they are protected by prior development of sila. So really the situations they are dealing with have a deeper spiritual significance. Intimations of this I guess could be frightening at first, but the positive aspect is they are an indication of progress and should be praised.

indianromeo
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Re: Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

Post by indianromeo » Fri Jul 27, 2018 12:31 pm

Thanks Kim, DooDoot, Paul!!

I think it will take a while to acclimate to this new “me” - like a new pair of shoes - and I deeply appreciate the fact that this Sangha exists.

If it’s okay I may check in from time to time about how it’s going :roll:

rolling_boulder
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Re: Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

Post by rolling_boulder » Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:10 pm

Yeah you need to learn to chill

takes time
don't worry about it
The world is swept away. It does not endure...
The world is without shelter, without protector...
The world is without ownership. One has to pass on, leaving everything behind...
The world is insufficient, insatiable, a slave to craving.

dharmacorps
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Re: Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

Post by dharmacorps » Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:53 pm

Do you have a meditation teacher? You may want to establish a relationship with one so you can get some assistance, especially if you are just starting out, or in the first 1-2 years of practice. If you historically have some trouble with social anxiety and socializing with people, it may be nothing new or just a transient thing. If this is unlike your usual experience, and your ability to be around people seems more stressful than it was before, then there may be some adjustments you need to make in your process. You may be trying too hard and not relaxing enough.

JohnK
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Re: Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

Post by JohnK » Fri Jul 27, 2018 9:58 pm

In case it is helpful, I will just say something about the one sentence that jumped out at me (quoted here).
indianromeo wrote:
Fri Jul 27, 2018 5:29 am
...When an alluring temptation presents itself, now, be it music, food, or an attractive person or idea, I resist attaching and sometimes even physically act so as to avoid it...
Thanks and metta all :-)
I think there is a difference between renunciation and aversion. It sounds like you may have aversion to these potentially pleasant things. Others have mentioned that relaxation may be helpful. Perhaps your commitment to mindfulness has enough power to "protect" you -- that is, you can see the pleasant object w/o aversion and see your impulse toward the object, but your mindfulness may be stronger; maybe trust your own dedication and practice. I think strong alertness can let you see when you may be going too far. Seems like aversion can be fear-based (I'm afraid I'll go to far), while renunciation may be based on some wisdom regarding priorities -- I don't have to hide from the pleasant because I know its danger and escape.

This is not exactly related, but it reminds me of having unnecessary aversion to a wandering mind which transfers to having aversion to recognizing a wandering mind. I'm hearing lately that such recognition should be rewarded so that it will repeat -- for example, I listened to a Thanissaro guided meditation yesterday where he suggests providing yourself a nice pleasant breath when you recognize wandering.

I don't know if you can relate to these examples of aversion, but I think they could be related -- suggestive of one approach to the practice.
So, relax and trust may be keywords.
Of course, only you know if any of this applies to your situation or not.
"...the practice is essentially a practice, and not a theory to be idly discussed...right view leaves unanswered many questions about the cosmos and the self, and directs your attention to what needs to be done to escape from the ravages of suffering." Thanissaro Bhikkhu, On The Path.

indianromeo
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Re: Help :-/ Feeling discombobulated in social situations, perhaps due to mindfulness

Post by indianromeo » Fri Jul 27, 2018 10:34 pm

Hey all - appreciate the recent comments - relaxation is the main message I’m taking away. :thumbsup:

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