During most of my teens I considered myself a fairly thick-skinned, typical guy, writes Antar Marc in an essay about HSPs.
Growing up during the seventies, sensitive male role models were hard to find; back then ‘sensitivity’ was not a trait encouraged in men. However, during the past 30 years or so that I have been actively and sometimes intensively engaged in personal growth, I have discovered that behind the walls and under the layers of distance and detachment lives a highly sensitive person.
When I began this journey, the term Highly Sensitive Person (HSP) was not known. Osho has given many lectures and answers on the subject and much has been written about highly sensitive people; hence the concept has gained wider acceptance and I have come to recognize and accept myself as a Highly Sensitive Person.
It is estimated that about 20% of the human population would test positive for what Carl Gustav Jung called Innate Sensitiveness (question to you, dear reader: What is your estimate for our sannyas community?).
About 70% of HSPs are introvert, while about 30% are extrovert. All of them tend to have rich inner lives and show a tendency to think deeply about the world, others and their lives. HSPs tend to be ‘cooperative’, rather than ‘competitive’, and often underperform in highly competitive environments.
This innate sensitivity has been well researched and the term Highly Sensitive Person was coined in 1996 by Elaine N. Aron, Ph.D. and explored in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.
No matter what scientists tells you, there is no diagnostic device presently available that is as sensitive as the human body. When properly tuned, our physical bodies have the ability to perceive and respond to our environment with an accuracy that far exceeds the capacity of our present technology. And some of us have bodies that are naturally tuned to be more sensitive to our vibrational environment.
So, for better or worse, that puts highly sensitive people in the position of being “the canaries in the coal mine.” Our sensitivity to the aural, environmental, and vibrational pollution that is prevalent in our world means that we often display physical, emotional and vibrational symptoms long before others less sensitive than us do.
Let this sensitivity grow, and slowly slowly, as you become more and more sensitive, more and more sensuous, you will see more and more beauty around. The deeper your insight, the greater the beauty. And when you see this whole existence as a tremendous dance, a celebration, you are liberated by it.”
Osho, The Book of Wisdom, Ch 2, Q 3 (excerpt)
If you have ever wondered if you are highly sensitive, here is a short list of signs that could indicate that you are a Highly Sensitive Person:
- Do you get “overwhelmed” by joy when you experience great beauty: A beautiful landscape, music that touches the heart, the smell of a flower? High sensitivity is not always triggered by “negative” experiences. Positive, beautiful, sublime experiences can also awaken that sensitivity.
- Do you have an “emotional radar” that picks up on what others are feeling?
- Do you know what people are feeling before they tell you? Do you ever walk into a room and sense that there has been an argument? Is there love or tension in the air?
- Do you pick up physical symptoms from other people? I once massaged a friend’s head to help with her headache. When I was done, she felt great, but I had a headache.
- Does reading or hearing about bad news have a dramatic impact on your mood?
- Do you avoid violent TV-programmes and items?
- Do you have food sensitivities or allergies?
- People are putting stuff into their bodies that was never meant to go there. If you are highly sensitive your body may tell you, what and when you can eat or drink.
- Is being in a calm, peaceful environment important for you?
- Does clutter stress you out? Do harsh, disharmonious colours fluster you? Do you feel at peace in a beautiful garden? Is it important for you to create a “sanctuary” within your home?
- Do you get claustrophobic when you spend too much time indoors?
For many sensitive people, being inside for too long leads to a feeling of claustrophobia, lethargy and/or irritation.
- Is it important for you to spend time alone? Highly sensitive people often feel better when alone. In extreme cases, this need to be alone can lead to the point where being around others is almost impossible.
- Have you ever had a transcendent or mystical experience? Highly sensitive people are naturally more open to experiences of bliss, ecstasy and spiritual awakening.
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. These are examples of possible ‘symptoms’ of high sensitivity. Even if you said “Yes” to just half of these questions, you could be highly sensitive. In fact, even just one or two of these, if they are very strong for you, could indicate high sensitivity.
Although it does not always feel that way, in conclusion I feel that being a highly sensitive person is a gift.
Marc is a regular contributor
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