With this movie, Sensitive, The Untold Story, the story is going to be told. We HSPs will become much more visible. Of course, thank goodness, your sensitivity can remain invisible when you choose it to be. Remember I did a post about being invisible? http://hsperson.com/invisible-yet-definitive-part-of-yourself/. The comments on that are interesting, too, and some of you are wishing to stand up and speak up for sensitivity, especially for HS children, even calling it a “movement.”
However, as you know, high sensitivity (HS) is a baffling subject for others. HS is largely a physically invisible characteristic, like intelligence, wealth, having certain illnesses, or having experienced a recent loss. But if you have one of these characteristics, most people understand it immediately once you mention it. Explaining sensitivity is much more difficult, isn’t it? I hope this movie makes it much easier.
However, becoming more visible is going to lead to all sorts of consequences, some of them difficult still to imagine. But one that troubles me a great deal is that we are describing two groups of people, ourselves and the others. I want to help us all avoid some problems that may arise if we’re not careful.
First, I encourage you to try to eliminate the term non-sensitive or non-highly sensitive from our (mine, too!) vocabulary. I think we can say non-HSP to those who do not find “HSP” annoying in-group jargon. Or you can say those “without the trait” or the “other 80%.” Or maybe you have a better idea.
The reason for this is that human beings have a very hard time thinking of two groups or of any two things as equal. North and South, East and West, dog and cat, salt-and-pepper, up and down, right and left, London and Paris – almost immediately we each have a subtle feeling of which is our favorite. Evolution has probably trained us to judge quickly between two things.
In particular, human beings make judgments about their group, the “in”-group, and about all other groups, the “out”-groups. Of course we usually favor our group, especially when the outgroup is a minority. This is a serious problem that is found in most social animals. For example, chimpanzees have been observed to engage in deadly warfare with other chimp troops, no doubt to take over their territory when they can outnumber them, or to defend themselves when they think they are threatened. We certainly know about humans resorting to violence in both cases. As soon as we humans notice a difference, whether it’s who’s in your family or tribe, or who has a different language or skin color, there’s a judgment of who’s better and of potential threat.
In fact, in social psychology there is a phenomenon called the minimal group, in which, if you have people just count off 1-2-1-2 and have the 1st go to one corner of the room and the 2nd to another, very quickly on that basis alone each group feels superior in subtle ways to the other.
One Way We Might Be Now In the Outer World
Of course there all kinds of human instincts that are problems and that we humans are trying to overcome, such as greed, misusing power, conforming to others’ evil behavior when we should resist it, and resorting to violence when there is a conflict. We will have to overcome this out-of-date in-group-out-group prejudicial instinct as well, and I am hoping you as HSPs can take this opportunity to lead in this regard.
If someone, after watching the movie, brings up the issue of whether you now think you are superior, or simply implies it, perhaps now feeling inferior, you need to say, “No, not at all superior. That is not true, just as it is not true that we are inferior, the point of the movie. We want to be seen as equals working in teamwork with other people with other characteristics and temperament traits. There are many ways that we humans (and animals) differ, you know. Diversity is a blessing that should be embraced without prejudice towards any group.” Something like that.
What We Might Be Able to Do By Being More Inside
I know for myself at least, as this movie takes me more out, I need and want to counter it with more being inside. For me that means more meditation, which for me is Transcendental Meditation. There is plenty of science to show that it provides a dramatically deep state of rest, allowing the brain and body to repair itself and reduce numerous problems, from heart disease and diabetes to anxiety and depression, and perhaps most impressive are the many studies showing its particularly powerful effects on generating personal growth http://www.thehartcenter.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Meditation-Metta-Analysis-American-Psychologist-.pdf
As you know, I like scientific evidence, and I also like groping around in the spiritual area. Here’s proof:
Yet I also feel uncomfortable with seeming to promote a particular spiritual path, or at least ambivalent about it. I want you to know there are choices, then for you to make yours.
But I want to risk talking about something more subtle regarding the inner world, for which I feel there is also good evidence. In most traditions it is recognized that when even a minority are deep in meditation, it affects their environment in positive ways. The same thing is said about Transcendental Meditation, as well as some other techniques. How could that be, in terms of physical causation? Studies provide rather convincing evidence that crime rate, for example, drops when and where people meditate. http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1989-28007-001 How does that happen? Does something invisible move through the air?
Some scientists think they do know the physical facts behind it–a good 7-min video of a very personable one: https://youtu.be/xjNjxDtLOjk . But other scientists are still in doubt. I say, do we absolutely have to know yet? In statistics there are two kinds of errors. One is of accepting a hypothesis as true when it is actually not true. We all dread that. It means we’ve fooled ourselves in some way and are acting on the basis of untruth. But the other potential error is rejecting a hypothesis when it is actually true, and thus rejecting the potential usefulness of a real phenomenon. Well, if meditation is good for us personally, and of course if we are functioning better that’s good at least for the people we directly interact with, we don’t have to worry about whether it also affects others even beyond that. And yet it would be nice to think that it did.
A Sufi Perspective
Recently I read an article by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee in Parabola (Fall, 2015, pp. 36-43). Vaughan Lee, who is a teacher in a Sufi lineage, expressed very well what I want to say. He begins by speaking, as have many, of the reality and the personal experience of both this outer world and many levels of an inner world, including a level of no thoughts, no emotions, no perceptions – simply pure consciousness, as also described in the video above. Many mystics have described this, as a darkness that is full of light, a fullness of emptiness, a nothingness that contains everything but before it has become particular things.
Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee is very concerned about the rapid destruction of Earth’s ecosystem, as I am. And like myself, he thinks that more experiences of this very deep “nothingness” or pure consciousness can have a real effect on this huge problem. This does not mean that people should do nothing else but go deep inside, but it might mean that this should also be done, especially by HSPs, who may be especially drawn to and able to be effective with this approach to helping our planet, which is so special and changing so fast.
Vaughan-Lee puts it this way: “Life needs the freedom that belongs to nothingness, to what is not yet defined…” He wants us to try allowing “nothingness to benefit humanity – to give humanity breathing space… Grace needs this space. And the whole of life needs what can be given only through grace.” To him, in the space between nothingness and this material world there are many other levels of reality, but this space has been collapsing due to the increasing focus on the material world as the only reality. I have to say that some, not all, scientists have contributed to this collapse a great deal, by their almost religious belief in the falseness of religions and spirituality!
Can We Stop the Collapse?
In the Central Valley of California, because of the drought, agricultural interests have been pumping groundwater out of the water table as fast as they can by drilling wells still deeper than their neighbors’. (As one person put it, it’s like four-year olds with straws, all hoping to out suck each other from the same milkshake.) The layers of sand and water, where the water is found, are between layers of hard clay. Without the water, the layers collapse into clay and a thin layer of waterless sand. When rain does come, water cannot penetrate so much clay and does not store up underground any more. Since the 1920’s the ground has subsided as much as 30 feet in some places and with more drilling, two more inches from 2008 to 2010, indicating extensive collapse from pumping out groundwater. Now some scientists are trying to pump water back in to those layers of sand still having some water, before they all collapse and there is simply no more water available from underground.
Thinking in terms of Vaughan-Lee’s metaphor, one can envision a similar collapse of layers within us. Somehow I believe that HSPs have the power to avert that collapse by learning to penetrate and move within those spaces. In Vaughan-Lee’s article, he does not really teach how to do this, although all of the elements are there. For example, this is not a matter of will so much as a skill in attentive letting go, of staying conscious, but of being conscious of nothing, or close to nothing, not even focused on breath or passing thoughts (not that those methods do not have clear value). This is exactly the end state in Transcendental Meditation, Christian Centering Prayer, and probably a method taught by Vaughan-Lee that is not in the article. I will not try to describe it more here. Some of you will understand and I hope the rest of you will come to. It isn’t really that difficult. It’s a matter of experience.
Vaughan-Lee makes the lovely point that sometimes the doors between inner and outer swing open for someone, and if we are attentive this can be a period of great personal transformation. He also thinks this is true of the collective, that sometimes, if we as a species are attentive, we have the opportunity to witness enormous change in humankind, for good or ill. He sees the rapid change today as such an opportunity for transformation, and requires our full attention—in nothingness. “With one foot in nothingness, with one ear attuned to silence, we are infinitely watchful and undisturbed…[you can be] a fulcrum between these dimensions, a dynamic gateway between being and non-being.”
Well, I hope my fellow scientists in particular will not reject me for my description of other dimensions, based on the experience and research of some very intelligent people, but not yet fully understood. I know it has become, to scientists, a trite analogy, but quantum physics is another example of layers of reality and multiple dimensions that we cannot see or easily study, but that we have come to trust as realities.