An unexpected book arrived in the mail the other day. A gift from my friend’s at Wisdom Publications. Zen Master Raven: The Teachings of a Wise Old Bird. by Zen Master human form, Robert Aitken. Here the koans are told by and to animals of the forest: raven, porcupine, owl, woodpecker, badger, black bear, and […]
The celebrations of Thanksgiving have seen travel, entertaining, and being entertained. I am now recovering from all the socializing, eating, and cheer. I’ve tapped out my introvert reserves and am enjoying some quiet time now. I know this season is challenging, especially the introvert amongst us.
Starting a few years ago, after reading Susan Cain’s revolutionary book, Quiet, I started thinking about my own introversion and writing about. I’ve written two books on the topic. The Awakened Introvert explores mindfulness and Buddhist concepts in a practical workbook format. The first book I wrote: The Everything Guide to the Introvert Edge is a playful, encyclopedic treatment of this important topic.
The Awakened Introvert: Practical Mindfulness Skills for Maximizing Your Strengths and Thriving in a Loud and Crazy World, is dedicated to my fellow introverts in the world to bring a greater measure of sanity to their lives.I am thinking about why I wrote this book. This book was a labor of love. I was really writing to myself and through myself. Three reasons come to mind:
1) It came out of my own awakening to the bias against introversion (some of this bias self-imposed). For years I knew about introversion as a psychological concept and I readily identified myself as one. However, it didn’t realize the prejudice that I and other applied to this introverted way of being. I felt guilty that I wasn’t more “out there,” “on,” and “positively cheery” all the time.
I thought something might be wrong with me. “Maybe I’m depressed or self-sabotaging,” I would wonder. But then I realized that, indeed, my reserved quiet was an introvert asset rather than a liability. It was endemic to who I am as a human being and it is the starting point on my path to spiritual awakening.
This discovery, if you will, is the main thrust of the book. I share what I know about being an introvert in an extrovert-dominated world and then provide a series of contemplations, exercises, and practices that can actually make a difference in how you cope moment-by-moment, day-by-day in the world.
2) I realized that my decades long mindfulness path was in some large measure facilitated by being an introvert. People often ask me how I got into meditation and I never have a clear answer for them other than the fact that meditation has also held an intuitive appeal for me. I like to be quiet, I value stillness (even though it can be challenging to realize), and I know how difficult it is to manage my ADD-like mind.
Meditation is a natural fit for introverts because it embodies quiet, stillness, and provides a technology that can actually change our brains likely increasing our capacity to withstand stimulation such that it is no longer experienced as aversive. It also gives us tools that we can use to better manage our energy.
3) The Buddha was an introvert (likely so). The Buddha recognized that the path to awakening was an inside job. It didn’t come about by impressing others, doing amazing feats, or being loud. Instead, his enlightenment happened in the quiet solitude of meditation and this is what he advocated for his followers 2500 years ago. The path of quiet is just as relevant and necessary today as the world becomes more and more self-preoccupied with attention-seeking. His basic teachings, included in the book, are a roadmap for introverts (and those intrepid extroverts, too, willing to do the inner work). I’ve devoted my life to trying to understand and live these basic teachings, and it is my honor to share them with you.
The Awakened Introvert is unique from other books by and for introverts because it is a workbook. You can work through the issues in writing, which is often a helpful way to make sense of things, connect to material, and to hear yourself thinking.
The Everything Guide to the Introvert Edge
For those of you looking for a general introduction on introversion will enjoy the Introvert Edge. This book hasn’t gotten as much attention as some of my other book, an oversight you can correct this Holiday season.
Here is the Top Ten List from the beginning of the book, which gives a preview of what the book covers:
1. There is nothing wrong with you! Introversion is normal and valuable—it is a connection to your interior that gives you an edge!
2. Introverts revolt! There is an introvert revolution underway and introverts are reclaiming their rightful place in society
3. Don’t believe the messages extroverted society has told you. You don’t need to apologize for who you are and how you want to be.
4. Living in the extrovert culture, you will have to take care of yourself in special ways.
5. There are more introverts in the world than you realize. Half the population may be introverts.
6. Many famous, influential, and creative people throughout history have been introverts.
7. Being an extrovert is not ideal; it ignores the power of solitude, quiet, and contemplation.
8. Contemplative practices are the key to nurturing your introvert.
9. Introverts are subject to bias, discrimination, prejudice, and stigma especially in school and the workplace.
10. The Introvert Edge is available to extroverts, too, when they are able to tap into their interior depths.
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