Can Meditation cause too much Introversion?

introvertI like to regard myself as an ambivert because relative to my loved ones, I fall on either side of the spectrum about half the time. Yet, in relation to the cultural ideal I probably fare more as an introvert.

What I’ve seen happen since starting a regular meditation practice, is that I don’t feel very desirous of external excitement or concerned with how my reclusive behavior might appear. This means I can dive in to spending copious amounts of time alone, which is great for studying or solitary work, but not helpful for making connections or practicing communication.

On the flip side, during my life’s earlier solitary phases I recall actually developing a bit of social anxiety. I actually believed and feared that if I didn’t practice socializing I would forget how! This seems silly, and is completely not the case now, and I don’t feel it ever could be again. Thanks to a present mind and a peaceful heart I can go with minimal contact for months and then adapt myself to pretty much any social situation.

So why make an effort to go out? Though, I don’t think it’s wise to seek externally-sourced happiness, intuition tells me something isn’t right about spending this much time alone. It’s just toooo easy for me; there’s not enough challenge to balance myself. By balance I mean integrating the extremes or polarities that come less naturally, in this case extroversion. This doesn’t mean trying to turn myself into a complete extrovert, but it does mean taking on little opportunities to challenge myself.

It seems to me, for the introvert born, meditation is a double edged sword; it’s up to me to avoid the bypassing and develop myself among people, but without Dhamma I may not have developed a pure motivation for doing so. As for the extroverts who are brave enough to sit a 10 day course, I acknowledge and commend that you’re not only taking on a path to purification, but also an activity very contrary to your nature.

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About Lisa Griffiths

I’m a psychology student, part-time commercial artist, and have previously studied Gnosticism in the tradition of Samael Aun Weor. On the cusp of 2012 I began to learn Vipassana meditation as taught by S.N. Goenka. Though, other techniques had led me there, Vipassana proved to cultivate the greatest sense of harmony in my life. I now devote the majority of my practice time to Vipassana, and intend to contribute some of my reflections here, to be witnessed by the Dhamma community.
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2 Responses to Can Meditation cause too much Introversion?

  1. Anonymous says:

    Interesting.
    Like you as a natural introvert I see meditation as a double edged sword.
    On the plus side over the four years of practice it has helped me be more comfortable in my own skin, on the negative side the necessary need to fit practice into my schedule and 10 days to either sit or serve on a course does have an impact on my social life.
    Into this I would raise the challenge I find in being equanimous on day 9, when noble silence is lifted. I really struggle to strike the right balance of looking after myself and communicating with others. I think there are definite parallels to the subject you raised.
    What has your experience been on Day 9 of the courses you sat?

    Tom
    (London)

    • Lisa Griffiths says:

      Haha, ya day 9 was quite challenging for me during the one time I sat a course (I’ve done much more serving than sitting). I actually heard everyone laughing and I didn’t feel at all bubbly myself; in fact I burst out into tears, and it took me quite a while to come back to the world of thinking and talking. Once I did though, I was able to enjoy socializing. I sat with a circle of women and at one point was quoting somethings I’d read, and someone pointed out that my memory was really amazing (which is not normally the case, but actually was true post-vipassana) so that helped me feel a bit more comfortable. 🙂

      Since I’ve only been able to go back on short notice so I’ve always been a server or service-period worker, and interestingly, the more intense saṅkhāras I’ve passed have actually happened during these times. Doing such intense self-work in the presence of others I was serving with is a something I view as a healthy challenge. I have felt awkwardness and paranoia at times, but the long-term servers I was with were really good about making everyone feel comfortable to share if we were having a storm or needed to be alone for a while.

      I am trying to get in to sit a course right now, but will take serving if sitting isn’t possible; as I know it’s as good for me, and I always meet sweet amazing people!

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