Is your sensitivity limiting you?Sep 22, 2022
I want to begin by saying that I don’t have personal experience with the ‘highly sensitive person’ diagnosis, so please note that I am not speaking to this. What I share below are my own experiences with sensitivity - both personal and professional - outside this diagnosis.
Before I ever began a yoga practice, I kept a thick shell around me to protect myself from pain. 15 years in the making, the result was disconnection from my emotions (except for anger), and I was mostly apathetic. I was diagnosed clinically depressed, had panic attacks, and leaned into activities like sky-diving, skiing double blacks, paintballing, and anything to do with speed to make me feel alive.
And then I found yoga. When I say yoga, I mean beyond exercise: asana (the physical practice), pranayam (breathwork), mindfulness, awareness, meditation, and daily practice (sadhana, discipline).
I reconnected with my emotions and eventually discovered what I truly wanted and needed for myself. Within this journey covered with winding roads and unexpected surprises, I found a sense of peace and joy. But also, I found myself limited to what I could expose myself to in order to maintain that peace. I felt far too insulated. Here are some examples of my sensitivities.
- On one national holiday, I spent half a day at the Museum of Science and Industry with my kids, my neighbor and their kids. When I got home, I was exhausted. Not because I didn’t have a good time (I did) or the children were difficult (they weren’t), but because everyone in Chicago had the same idea and the place was packed. I absorbed everyone’s energy, it seemed, and I felt it when I got home. It took me several days to feel back to normal.
- Same again when I spent a weekend afternoon with a friend on Michigan Avenue. We hadn’t realized that it was St. Patrick’s Day; the streets were filled with people bar-hopping and tipsy. This took me down energetically within two hours, and I concluded I couldn’t be around big crowds.
- I’d watch an unsettling movie, and it would take days to shake off the visuals and the tension.
- When I ate the “wrong" food, it would take me out.
- I was irritated by discussions that didn’t line up with my values. I categorized those having them as not my circle, not my people. At one point, I realized that this was happening more frequently than I’d like in order to feel free, and I thought perhaps it was me I had to take a look at instead of shying away from these situations and wondering where my tribe is.
- Transitions took a while to settle into. Just in time for the next one.
Two kinds of sensitive
It’s good to be sensitive. As in connected.
You pick up on things, you’re able to read the room and between the lines, you know how you’re feeling and how things impact you, you can make better real-time decisions, you have empathy, you take care, and you can discern what’s coming from you and what’s coming from someone else.
But there’s another kind of sensitivity, one that my personal examples above fall under. It has less to do with connection and more to do with intolerance (akin to irritable bowel). The nervous and digestive systems aren’t able to process or digest people or situations effectively, and assimilation is challenging.
Here are some ways to strengthen connection and increase tolerance and energetic protection:
- For energetic protection: strengthen your magnetic field (your aura). Here are 5 ways to do this:
1. There are kundalini yoga kriyas (sequences) specifically for the auric field. Practice daily for at least 40 days.
2. Meditate daily. This positively affects your quality of thought, which impacts your auric field.
3. Wear light colors. They expand the aura.
4. Do right-action. Look within to know what that is for you. Our aura projects what’s inside, which affects what we attract in our lives. Our actions impact our inner world, and our inner world impacts our actions and projections.
5. Imagine an invisible shield surrounding you. Imagine widening it.
- When you take in negative energy: imagine crumpling it up like a piece of paper from your navel center and moving it downward (apana) through your first chakra (base of your spine), and dropping it down (handing it over) to Mother Earth. Take a deep breath as you crumple it up and let it go with a powerful exhale through the nostrils.
- For connection and tolerance: strengthen your nervous system. Practice kundalini yoga. Eat what supports energy and strength. Get enough rest. Nostril breathe. Get more curious. And stop coddling your intolerances. Practice seeing uncomfortable situations as real time opportunities to make connections (especially with yourself) and to find commonalities.
This doesn’t mean we need to start frequenting bars or preferring crowds if this isn't our vibe; we do want to protect our energy. But it means that when this happens, it won’t take you down, and you won’t feel so limited and uncomfortable. A strong nervous system also allows you to be spontaneous. Tread lovingly, work this at your own pace, but the key is to work it.
Limiting these practices to when life gets hard does not shift the sensitivity. Muscles aren't built, reserves aren't created, nor is full access gained by using it like a pill. The secret to making this work and creating magic is daily practice.
P.S. - What questions came up for you? Email me and let me know: [email protected]