Being Sensitive Is Not A Problem, It's A Rich Mystery To Explore
I’m the opposite of ‘thick-skinned’. This is not breaking news. I’ve been sensitive for as long as I can remember—hypersensitive, actually. Lately though, I feel like an extra layer of protective ‘skin’ has peeled off my being. The healing process of the last five years has not been a process of ‘recovery’ so much as it is a process of ‘uncovery’. This transformation is a relentless, multifaceted exfoliation, one in which layer upon layer has been, and continues to be, shed. Releasing identities, beliefs, relationships, ways of being, and protection mechanisms has left me soul-raw and wide open.
I don’t see this sensitivity as a problem so much as it is an invitation to a new way of being in the world.
Things pierce me to the core and affect me more than ever. Seeing a wound or someone get hit on TV literally turns my stomach. Sometimes I weep when I’m driving I’m so overcome by the ordinary miracle of life. Getting a nutrient IV, the nurse poked me especially hard with the needle when setting up and I had to stop myself from crying like a small child would. I recently watched a documentary about songbirds and had tears rolling down my cheeks throughout. I was moved to tears by the innocence and the holy beauty of these divine little creatures and those who care about their fate in a world gone sideways.
Like a patient on a surgery table, I’ve been opened wide while deep transformational work is underway. My whole being feels disarmed and vulnerable. It’s not time to get off the table just yet and in the meantime navigating this world feels impossible much of the time.
Along with an old sense of self, I’ve shed all kinds of armor that used to keep me feeling ‘safe’, contained, and shielded.
Civilization feels especially inhospitable—the fluorescent lights at the grocery store, the whirl of cars zooming by at an intersection, the beeping of a big truck in reverse, the hum of music and chatter in stores. Even people talking can feel intolerable at times. There are deep forces of change at work inside me and I’m just not able to withstand the ‘normal’ barrage of the world.
‘Normal’ is increasingly feeling like a kind of insanity I’m not sure I’ll ever want to participate in again.
Raised on wild land in BC, I’ve known for a while now that I’m not really a ‘city person’. I thought I had the choice though, whether to participate in city life or not. I used to love theater, busting a move at a great party, or going out for coffee in a bustling café with a friend. Lately though, I’ve realized that those things are no longer enjoyable, or even relevant to who I’m becoming—to this sensitive, wide-open being that’s emerging.
Living close to nature is no longer a preference but ultimately a necessity. I currently live on the outskirts of a large city and find myself driving out of town—not towards it—when I go out. The city, itself seems to offer less and less that truly resonates with this odd creature I’ve become. I find public spaces abrasive and even so-called ‘conscious gatherings’ and activities feel like way too much.
Again, I don’t see this sensitivity as a problem, but as a rich mystery to explore, a prompt for curiosity, a gift, and an invitation to cultivate a slower, more-tender way of life that honors the holiness I see around me.
Throughout this long healing voyage, I’ve slowed to the pace of my heart, my body, and soul and I find that a more deliberate pace than the ever-quickening race-pace of my mind has been required. The mind is forever speeding ahead of sensation to the next idea, the next event, the next ‘there’ that’s supposedly more desirable than ‘here’ is. I seem to be shifting from mind-based living to soul, heart, and body-based living. This is a totally different way of life, one in which it’s completely impossible to gloss over, much less bulldoze the sacredness of life.
I’m finding a more awareness-rich and deliberate way of relating, being, and living that honors, not only my sensitivity, but also life itself.
The world was not built for the sensitive, tender, highly perceptive beings that we truly are. As a result, most of us are desensitized, disassociated from our experience, and in ‘fight or flight’, and coping-mode as a result. We eat foods than numb us, and zone-out on devices that keep us cerebral. We continue forging ahead no-matter-what, we lose ourselves in an ever-increasing plethora of distractions, and like a horse with blinders on, we’ve learned to shut out the vast majority of our sense perceptions just to survive what this world asks of us.
We have rooted our center of gravity in our minds so as to keep up with a cerebral world that doesn’t honor our bodies, hearts, and souls.
Imagine a wild animal at the mall, on a freeway, or even at a dinner party. Wild, tuned-in, sensitized beings—which we all are at our core—are perceptive and tuned into the rhythm of nature and the cosmos. We each have access to the divine intelligence and fabric of love that keeps our miraculous hearts beating and the planets spinning. It is what we are.
Much of the delicate beauty of our hearts, the wise sensations of our bodies, and the callings of our ancient souls gets drowned out in the loud and busy whirl of modern life.
As I continue to cocoon and to attend to the needs of my healing, my sensing instrument seems to be becoming more open, sensitive, and in tune. The only environments that don’t feel like ‘too much’ are quiet, nurturing spaces, my own sanctuary, and wild nature where I feel at ease and can allow my being to open wide and drink in the nourishing, loving field of nature.
After cocooning for the better part of nearly 5 years, my desire to return to the circus of ‘normal’ life is nearly non-existent. At first I wanted so desperately to get well so that I could keep being the person I thought I was. I realize now that I’m no longer that person and I don’t have the interests or inclinations that she had. Beneath that identity that I was living is another being who is aligning with a different life, and a completely different mode of being.
I have no interest in speeding up again, in losing myself in tasks, in burying this moment in hurried attempts to get to some other, future 'better' moment.
I know that I can trust my instincts, and that much has fallen away because it became irrelevant to this one who is emerging. It’s this same sensitive being that I believe was traumatized by ‘ordinary life’ and that needs to recover from years of ‘pushing through’, overriding, and carrying on for the sake of doing what’s ‘normal’.
So, how does a sensitive being live in an intense and crazy world?
This is a process of moment-by-moment, day-by-day discovery. For now, I’m largely cocooning still, allowing myself to be nourished by those things that feel comforting, nurturing, and in alignment with where I’m at. I have slowed to the speed of sensation, to the rhythm of breath and body, instinctive wisdom, and beingness itself.
Whole-being presence is becoming a way of being and not something that I ‘practice’ or do while ‘meditating’.
I am being retrained to take this sense of connectivity and wakefulness into activities and tasks. I’m exploring avenues that have very little to do with mental concepts and in this realm, words are simply insufficient to fully capture what’s transpiring and emerging.
I am, increasingly, trusting that the path is being made as I walk it, and that I don’t need to get ahead of myself, or try to figure it all out. I need only be fully in this step, this moment, this sensation, this unfolding. It is all leading somewhere perfect, and really there is nowhere to get to.
:: REFLECT ::
- Do you consider yourself to be a sensitive person? Does this feel like a gift, a curse, or a bit of both?
- Are you aware of the ways in which you ‘override’ your sensitivity, push-through, or brace to keep up the pace, or get things done?
- In what ways do you numb yourself? Do you use food, shopping, sex, television, or other substances or activities to try to feel less?
- Does the life you're living truly honor all of you, mind, heart, body, and soul?
- If you were to live a life that was honoring to yourself and to the greater whole of life, what might this life look and feel like? Is it very different from how you're living right now?
Copyright © 2016 Marie-Ève Bonneau