The art of developing a mindfully thick skin

Dear Integral Meditators,

As you may know the expression ‘having a thick skin’ refers to being psychologically strong enough not to be hurt by the insults of others. The article below explores how we can develop a ‘mindfully thick skin’ & combine the benefits of being mentally strong with being emotionally sensitive and open. Enjoy!
In the spirit of strength & sensitivity,


PS: Next week for those in Singapore: Tuesday 24th & Wednesday 25th October – Meditating with your Shadow Self; Finding Freedom from What Holds You Back in Life – A 1 hour talk & introduction

The art of developing a mindfully thick skin (Make it semi-permeable)

When trying to develop and appropriately thick skin to deal with the challenges and attacks that life and our relationships throws at us we can fall into two extremes:

  • We can be too sensitive to what others say or do to us, making us emotionally vulnerable and negative at the slightest hint of criticism
  • We can become too insensitive, blocking not just the attacks that other people direct at us, but also the love, compliments and positivity. This starves us of the positive emotion and feeling that we need to be emotionally healthy and inwardly whole

To avoid either of the two extremes we need to develop what could be thought of as a “semi-permeable thick skin”.
This semi-permeable psychological skin::

  • Protects us from verbal attacks and negative energy from others
  • Guards against negativity coming from our own “inner-critic” the voice in our head that always sees the mistakes that we make
  • Enables us to strain out the negativity and take on the positive lessons when we or our work are critiqued by others
  • Protects us from negative ambient energy, for example in an office where there is a lot of anger, competitiveness or jealousy

However, it allows the following to penetrate our energy field and mind, allowing us to appreciate them fully:

  • When someone complements us, we take it in and appreciate it in a positive manner
  • We are able to receive emotional support and kind words from others. Loving in relationships is about receiving as well as giving
  • When we are offered something of beauty in a now-moment. For example, seeing a sunset as we ride on the bus, receiving life-energy from trees as we walk through the park
  • When it is appropriate to feel grateful and appreciative of something good that is happening in our life

Exercise for developing your semi-permeable thick skin
See yourself surrounded by a semi-permeable bubble of protective golden light. In crowded environments you can shrink it to the contours of your body, so it becomes like a body glove.
During the day practise learning when to consciously open up your golden bubble and allow positive energy into your energy-field (as in the examples above), and when to consciously close it down and make it an impermeable wall of protection (as in the examples of attacks above).
The idea with this exercise is to be able to consciously oscillate between being appropriately open and vulnerable (able to take positive energy in) and appropriately closed and protected, blocking negative attacks and energy, preventing it from damaging or crippling us.

© Toby Ouvry 2017, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website

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