The Buddha Was an Introvert

Finding peace of mind in a hectic world

Mindfulness for Introverts

A solution for the double-edged sword of introversion

It has been a while since I have posted here. I have been busy working on my latest book project, The Awakened Introvert: Practical Mindfulness Skills to Help you Maximize Your Strengths and Thrive in a Loud and Crazy World (forthcoming from New Harbinger in spring 2015).

The central theme of this book is that introversion is a double-edged sword. One edge brings you into the interior where there is a rich world of activity, stimulation, and imagination. The other edge of this sword is the tendency to get caught up in the mind’s storytelling, some of which can become obsessive, ruminative, and negative.

Mindfulness is the natural solution for helping introverts to navigate the interior of their experience without getting stuck. Meditation helps to develop the capacity to monitor attention and extricate it from the default mode network activity of the brain and return it to the sensorimotor experience of the present moment.

I recently wrote an essay for the Kripalu Thrive blog entitled Mindfulness for Introverts. I discuss how it is important for us introverts to befriend our introversion and at the same time not become too identified with this label. Ultimately, we move beyond the notions of introversion and extroversion to find a more enduring sense of place in the world that is fluid, peaceful, and mindful.

This place coincides with the Buddha’s teaching of not-self. It is not that a pattern of self does not exist because it obviously does. Rather that pattern always changing and does not stand outside the flow of experience. It arises from our collected experiences while it participates in them.

Projecting a sense of ownership onto our experience gives rise to a pervasive sense of dissatisfaction since that experience cannot be pinned down with language or fixed in time. The combination of introvert self-care through mindfulness and access to a wider wisdom (also facilitated through mindfulness) can help introverts to be happier, more engaged, and energized.

Arnie Kozak, Ph.D., is a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry, University of Vermont College of Medicine and founder of the Exquisite Mind Psychotherapy and Meditation Studio.

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