20 Things We Can Learn From Pain


Riot © by Joy Garnett (archive)

For the longest time I have been having difficulty with how we treat each other, particularly about pain. I have been hard pressed to understand it.

If we are not aware of pain, we cannot manage our world well.  Pain is a sign that we need to make a change; it is important information and more often than not it is suppressed. If all we do is suppress pain until we explode or become ill then it makes sense that we have a lot of violent crime, war, and illness.  And we do.

How can we do better? We can start by becoming aware of what pain can do for us.  Here are some ideas:

  1. pain can tells us when we have eaten the wrong food
  2. pain can tell us when we have eaten a toxic food or drink
  3. pain can tell us when the person we are talking to is not our friend
  4. pain can tell us when we are overextended financially, physically and emotionally
  5. pain can tell us when a change is necessary
  6. pain can tell us that we have disregarded our inner voice and are now suffering as a result
  7. pain can tell us that we are doing the wrong work
  8. pain can tell us that our work needs to be of higher quality
  9. pain can tell us that we missed an opportunity: to be kind, to be present or to be loving
  10. pain can tell us that we have harmed someone else.
  11. pain can tell us when something is not working
  12. pain can tell us when something is ending
  13.  pain can tell us that we are living the wrong dream
  14. pain can tell us when we have given up on ourselves.
  15. pain can tell us when we have given up on someone else.
  16. pain can tell us that we are not being honest with ourselves
  17. pain can tell us we are not being honest with others
  18. pain can tell us that we have no business looking down on others
  19. pain can tell us that it huts when someone looks down on us
  20. pain can tell us when we are not true to ourselves.

To some degree, pain is inevitable because we all make mistakes.  None of us knows it all, is perfectly competent, or has perfect vision. We can only do the best that we can.  When we miss the mark, we have a learning experience.  If we avoid the pain, we miss the learning experience and keep making mistakes until we do learn. And sometimes we simply need to mourn our losses.

Pain and pleasure are both important tools for helping us make life a positive experience. Denying the importance of pain is a way to deny ourselves important information and important parts of ourselves, including our capacity for compassion. It is time to bring pain out of the closet and give it its due.


Can You Identify These 5 Different Types of Loyalty in Your Life Or Our World?

LOYALTY © by i am no-one

Loyalty is one of those complicated subjects that can touch a nerve. It is like a two edged sword; it can help us and make life worthwhile and also hurt us.   Loyalty is an important subject that is worth thinking about because issues of loyalty are part of our basic social fabric and always have been.

Loyalty comes in many flavors and means different things to different people. Ideas about loyalty have changed as we humans have changed. Here are five different ways loyalty is employed in human culture:

  1. for some, loyalty is an absolute whether it is loyalty to a tribe or religion.  Loyalty under these circumstances means loyalty not only overtly to the group, but also the beliefs, practices and expected behaviors.  Since groups that seek absolute loyalty create dependency in their members, escape can be difficult.
  2. loyalty demands can manifest in rules and role requirements that have nothing to do with the individual’s abilities.  These kinds of demands can feel like a kind of rejection of the individual, a yoke of slavery to group norms.
  3. for others, loyalty is extremely conditional.  This is the type of person who operates on the “what have you done for me lately?” premise.  The point of view of this kind of loyalty is economic rather than institutional.
  4. others think everyone deserves at least some loyalty since we are all “in this” together.  The point of view of this person is universal.
  5. another type of loyalty is loyalty based on the inherent dignity of all living creatures, a kind of transcendent  and transpersonal loyalty. This is the most spiritual kind of loyalty.
Loyalty on a one-on-one basis isn’t too difficult and is sometimes straight forward and based on the quality of the relationship. However when you add the complex expectations of societal structures it can become messy.
In all kinds of loyalty expectations, there are values underlying them that are often tied to the identities of people.  This is why changing the values in an individual or a society can be difficult.  We create lives around our values and identities.


Highly sensitive people have a challenge with loyalty that others may not have.  Since we love very deeply, it causes us to act on values that others may not have.  If I were to characterize HSP loyalty, it would be of the universal and spiritual kind.  Unfortunately, our brand of loyalty may not be valued or reciprocated by others causing us serious emotional pain.


It is very important for highly sensitive people to recognize the type of loyalty in those around them, so that they form realistic expectations about their relationships with others.  Errors in expectations can create a lot of hurt for HSP’s, which we do not recover from easily.  As part of our self care program, we need to take care of our relationship expectations.


Is Humility A Taboo?

Is humility a dirty word?  It seems we avoid it, and I think it is important to ask why.

My hunch is that humility and humiliation are closely connected in the minds of many people although they are very different.

Humility is gentle; humiliation is aggressive. Humility is often considered a social position of one down. while humiliation is often used to reinforce a superior position. Humility has a generous sharing quality; humiliation is an assault on our dignity.

Humility is more about service than domination. Unfortunately, service carries an association with servility and subservience.  Hierarchical organizations which dominate our society reinforce the idea of superiors and inferiors and our winner-take-all competitive structure creates many situations of loss. It is no wonder that humiliation can become the typical experience of many people.

In an individualistic and aggressive world, humble work is often done by those who are providing others with a stepping stone to success.  Rankism which is abuse based on rank often accompanies humble work. Most if not all of us have experienced the condescension and nasty treatment of someone who “outranks” us and it is not a pleasant experience.

Humility has great benefits. In particular it enables us to be open to possibility and therefore our own creativity. Wabi-sabi is an ancient and smart Japanese philosophy that values that which is humble. Humble is where life is since nothing is permanent. The edge of existence is where life happens.

Humility keeps us in that moment of constant change and becoming, and in doing so makes it possible for us to be a part of the larger journey of life. Humility keeps us in the ongoing creation of the universe.

Humility and wabi sabi are the antithesis of aggressive individualism.  They are the opposite of control and status.  There is no veneer or pose to protect in humility and wabi sabi.  Their gifts to us are honesty and authenticity and real relationship and the opportunity to live in our creative selves.

In The Zone With Ayurveda

in the zone © by savanna-smiles

The easiest way to be healthy and physically happy is to be naturally in the zone with ayurveda.

Being in the zone has been often associated with sports – the place where you are operating in a free and effective manner. In the zone is an expression that came out of the work of Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, who investigated and wrote about flow as the state of being totally one with whatever you are doing. It is a state where your entire being is focused on an activity so that there is no separation between any aspect of yourself and the activity.  It is a state of oneness.

Applied to health, flow would be a state where all aspects of the body, mind, emotions and spirit operated in harmony.  Ayurveda is designed to make that possible.  The way Ayurveda helps an individual achieve flow is by identifying the original states of the individual and then providing the health practices and diet recommended to achieve that flow.  It sounds simple but it is actually very sophisticated because it balances all of the qualities in an individual’s bioenergy or dosha by using dualities.

Dualities are opposites.  Dark and light, hot and cold, hard and soft are all pairings of opposites or dualities. If an individual naturally has the quality of coldness, then warmth is balancing for that person.  That same idea is applied to all the various qualities in that individuals makeup.  Since these energies are a part of the person’s biology, mental and emotional state as well as spirit, the entire being of a person is brought into balance or an optimum state. When an individual is in balance all the energies of the body work together in harmony and a feeling of well being, bliss and flow can be achieved.

These techniques are available to HSP’s and non-HSP’s.  Anyone with the suitable Ayurvedic health regimen can achieve a state of flow or be in the zone with Ayurveda.

Are You Aware Of Sporadic Cases Of Schizophrenia?

Creative Commons License photo credit: Photo Extremist

US scientists have discovered that sporadic cases of schizophrenia do happen according to a recent news story by the BBC.  The journal, Nature Genetics, reported the study findings.

This is an important study for highly sensitive people, since schizophrenia is on the list of genetic diseases associated with the highly sensitive trait.  In 2003, David Ritchey’s important work on the highly sensitive trait was published.  The book, The H.I.S.S. of the A.S.P., includes an exploration of the many genetic diseases associated with high sensitivity, and lists schizophrenia as one of the HSP diseases.

The report showed that “showed that “fresh mutations” in DNA are involved in at least half of schizophrenia cases, when there is no family history of the illness, ” according to the BBC August 7, 2011 article, Scientists make schizophrenia breakthrough.  The scientists in the study believe that as many as half of the incidents of schizophrenia are sporadic cases of schizophrenia.  They discovered that as many as 40 genes mtated in a way that causes schizophrenia.

These were what is called de novo mutations which means they were gene mutations that did not come from the parents but came from some other cause.  According to the National Institutes of Health, NIH, a de novo mutation occurs only in the egg, sperm or right after fertilization – independently of the parent’s genetic code.  According to the new study findings, as many as forty different genes show mutation leading to schizophrenia.

Gene mutation has been the subject of another research effort led by Dr. Norman Geschwind.  His findings, called the Geschwind Theory, show how stress in the mother during pregnancy increases testosterone in her body causing genetic changes in the fetus.  These changes typically occur early in the pregnancy, resulting in left-handedness and a variety of diseases.  The Geschwind Theory was discussed in David Ritchey’s book, The H.I.S.S. of the A.S.P.

All of these studies seem to be pointing to the anomalous development of highly sensitive people, brought on by stress in the mother.  Although there can be many factors causing a particular outcome, there seems to be a growing body of evidence that stress in a pregnant mother increases the chance of a highly sensitive person being born

7 Things You May Not Know About Food For Good Health


Food may be one of the most misunderstood facets of our lives and it is one of the most important.  Since we do not run on automatic pilot, we have to get our energy from somewhere and one of the most important  sources of energy we have is food.

In our complex busy world no one can survive without the nourishment necessary to meet their daily life demands.  Therefore, we need to make good use of food to sustain ourselves. In order to do so, here are some food awarenesses you need to have:

  1. There are three sources of life energy according to Ayurveda: sunlight, air or oxygen and ground or food.  Early human civilizations benefited from 35% oxygen content in the air.  We now have about 20%.  Food, as a result, becomes even more important.
  2. Just because something is called food, doesn’t mean that it is. Real food has to have some capacity to nourish you.  Often what we call food is really “faux food”: sugar, fat and other chemicals packaged with flavoring that can fill the stomach but not only fail to nourish you but actually clog your body with toxins.
  3. The simplest way to view food is to realize that everything you eat either supports your life force or it does not; either promotes health or disease.  Therefore when you eat anything processed, you are essentially consuming chemical toxins which disrupt the energy in the body.
  4. Modern eating habits and food sources are created with convenience in mind, not health. In our current modern lifestyles when we eat and what we eat has very little to do with health.
  5. Our chronic diseases and health care bills are rising not because of our genes although they can be an influence.  They are rising because we have lost sight of what health is and how to create it. Food is an important part of creating health.
  6. You cannot micromanage your way to health.  We are healthy when we nourish ourselves by living in harmony with nature.  Overwork, eating too often and eating the wrong foods are prescriptions for disease.
  7. One of the most important health habits according to Ayurveda is to eat according to your body type.  In my case that means that since my body is naturally warm, I need to eat foods that cool the body on order to be healthy.  People who tend to be cold need to eat food that are heating to the body.

The knowledge of food and its affect on the body is best found in the Indian health care system called Ayurveda, which is at least 5000 years old.  In India for thousands of years Ayurvedic experts have been working with and documenting the effect of all foods and herbs on the body and the individual body type constitutions.

Ayurveda makes nutrition recommendations on the basis of their accumulated knowledge of health value. In order to be healthy, we need to understand the relationship between health and food and what our individual body needs.

Letting food support our health does not have to be difficult.  It requires some investigation into our body’s needs and informing ourselves on how best to do so.  A great beginning is Deepak Chopra’s book, Perfect Health which I found very helpful when I was starting to learn more about healthy eating.

When you have a harmonious relationship between your body and food, your body feels happy.  There is a tangible difference in how you feel when you are getting what you need.  It is worth the effort.


The Secret Of Letting Go


What is the secret of letting go?

From the time we are born we are introduced to the reality that we cannot survive without others. Our dependency creates our glue with others. We are inevitably committed to our first social group when we are young without the wisdom or awareness of what we are committed to.  It is an innocent commitment.

We become conditioned to our world as we experience it early in life and the more accustomed we are to the arrangement, the more difficult it becomes for us to change and let go. One of the reasons that change is so difficult is that we generally have a lot of love and loyalty for the people in our lives. Much of this is good but it can make change even more difficult.

In addition we learn how to survive within a set of cultural rules and become comfortable with them.  They become our reality and can offer many rewards for maintaining the status quo.

Sometimes when we seek change we make these common mistakes:

  1. we reject our past.  When we want to get rid of an uncomfortable part of our lives it is easy to throw out the baby with the bath water. We may not see a mistake or we may dislike the helplessness we have felt at not being able to change an outcome. What we are often rejecting is our own feelings about this past.
  2. we feel guilty for letting go of a part of our lives and the people in it.  Guilt can be a culturally promoted emotion to keep people from changing. One small example from my past illustrates this: my mother is from Germany; she used to promote the idea that I was German not American although clearly since I was born and grew up in the United States there was no question about my identity. Of course, a compassionate view of the situation recognizes the difficulty of moving from one culture to another, the difficulty of assimilation and her fear of being left behind.
  3. change before we are ready.  Sometimes, however, we are seeking change because the past was not a success, and we have a lingering disappointment with it.  If we cannot accept our sadness, which is not a culturally approved feeling as of this writing, we may want to get rid of the source of the sadness. Allowing change to be a process makes it easier not only to make a positive transition, but it also allows our systems to process and assimilate all of the feelings we have about it.

Looking at  change differently can help make it easier. When we need to change it is important that we do not think of it as a rejection of the past.  In fact, it may mean that our past life situation was a success and we have learned what we needed to learn.  Whatever, the reason, the process of sorting and sifting through our experience, seeing the good and not so good in it, enables us to come to terms with our experience in an imperfect world. It can help us see our past in a new light and show us how we are all part of a larger evolutionary process.

Ultimately, life is a learning process; seeing a process with different stages can help us find some perspective that makes acceptance easier.  Respecting the benefits of the past as you move forward makes letting go easier.

Letting go sounds easy, but actually it is a process of becoming aware of a problem to transitioning to a new way of living.  It is not a small matter and needs to be taken seriously. If we do not lay the groundwork for change we may have greater difficulty realizing it.  If we change without preparation we may in fact predispose ourselves to less change in the future because in not preparing our attempt at change may fail.

Letting go is a complex process of becoming aware, educating oneself, grieving, transition planning and implementation.  When the process of transition has been mastered and the pitfalls have been avoided, letting go becomes much easier.

What is essential – what is the secret of letting go  – is to see it as a positive step.

7 Reasons To Use Ashwagandha For Your Health

and after the rain comes new life © by robynejay

One of Ayurveda’s most important herbs is ashwagandha which is known for its ability to relieve stress. According to Wikipedia, ashwagandha also known as Indian ginseng, is from the nightshade family – the same family that brings you potatoes, tomatoes, tobacco and petunias. It has been used for centuries for a variety of health benefits. Ashwagandha is important for highly sensitive people because it is a highly effective and non-toxic way to heal the effects of stress.

  1. In Ayurveda, it is used to treat all sorts of debilitating illnesses. Ashwaghandha is a restorative herb and adaptogen, which means it helps the body handle stress. making it very helpful for highly sensitive people.
  2. It is said to confer the strength of a horse, protecting and enhancing the energy of the body.
  3. Ashwagandha is often used as an aphrodisiac and enhancer of sexual energy, but is increasingly seen as a useful herb to protect anyone from the effects of modern stressful living.
  4. According to Banyan Botanicals  ashwagandha is also useful in protecting bones and joints and therefore helps with arthritis.
  5. It supports the immune system and adrenal functioning. Adrenal fatigue is often a consequence of long term stress and can result in many other physical ailments including allergies and obesity.  Natural Herbs Guide cites a study on ashwagandha which found that this herb offered a lot of antioxidents which explains its support for the immune system, its restorative capabilities and its help with healthy aging. Ashwagandha helps minimize the effects of illness.
  6. According to Ashwagandha Benefits, some people use it to minimize the effects of: chemotherapy, multiple sclerosis, systemic lupus, stress induced ulcers and osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.
  7. Ashwaghandha helps stabilize blood sugar and supports the liver as well as the adrenals.

HIghly sensitive people suffer from chronic stress as well as many illnesses including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, adrenal fatigue and cancer. Although changes to lifestyle can yield many benefits, highly sensitive people often need supplements to manage their stress levels and illnesses. Ashwagandha is an herb with few side effects that can be helpful to highly sensitive people although it is not recommended for pregnant women. Since HSP’s have to struggle with the debilitating effects of stress, this beneficial herb can go a long way to supporting HSP’s need to be strong in order to function well on a daily basis.

12 Important Ways Neem Helps Your Immune System

Neem Flower © by sk_vel

Neem is a wonder herb.  Neem has been used by the people of southeast Asia and India for thousands of years because of its benefits as an all purpose support for the body.  Neem is a medicinal product derived from the neem tree which grows in hot climates.  In India, neem is considered an all purpose herb – a pharmacy unto itself.

Neem is a very important herb for highly sensitive people since HSP’s are so physically challenged because of their sensitivity to stimulus.  The tendency for their nervous systems to become overwhelmed and exhausted from stress, and any number of other genetic factors that impede their physical health means that highly sensitive people need all the help they can get.

So what does neem help with?

  1. neem helps all kinds of skin diseases, including acne, psoriasis and eczema
  2. neem is good for the hair and also helps with head lice
  3. neem is wonderful for teeth and gums.  Gum disease is known to cause inflammation in the body and to be a factor in facilitating the development of cancer, a disease that HSP’s have to be concerned about
  4. neem is anti bacterial
  5. neem is antifungical
  6. neem is antiviral
  7. neem is anti microbial and in some forms is used for wound cleaning
  8. neem helps with a number of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, gout and osteoarthritis
  9. neem helps with many conditions related to digestion including hyperacidity and is believed to help stabilize blood sugar and is considered a big help for diabetes sufferers
  10. neem is an excellent blood purifier
  11. neem relieves infections including urinary tract infection.
  12. neem strengthens the immune system.

Neem is inexpensive and a wonderful way to improve immune health for highly sensitive people without worrying about side effects.  For highly sensitive people suffering from genetic diseases, neem can relieve some of the physical destabilization that diseases present. and minimize the effects of toxins from food, water and social stress.

Neem offers relief in so many areas that it is worth considering as an important part of a daily regimen.

More Information:

Dr. Oz on Dental Problems, Disease and Neem

5 Ways HSP’s Can Minimize Social Anxiety

lone little boy
Creative Commons License photo credit: nandadevieast
For highly sensitive people, social anxiety is an especially serious problem because HSP’s are different and because their values, perceptions and experiences often do not mirror the Western competitive model.

You know how it feels when you have a social event to attend and your anxiety levels start to rise. HSP’s are likely to feel particularly anxious and often want to mentally prepare for anything they do including socializing. It is hard, however, to prepare for something that is spontaneous. If a highly sensitive person expects hostility or a lack of acceptance, their social anxiety will likely be even greater and it will be harder for them to enjoy the event and the people there.

Highly sensitive people are the holistic thinkers of the world which means that HSP’s do not have a combative mindset. As a result they can be slow to respond to an aggressive individual which can create social discomfort and embarrassment.  Verbal aggression can be very hard to handle for HSP’s because of their empathetic natures.

HSP values are the opposite of the capitalistic model. That so many people embrace competitive individualism in the United States is not an accident since the cultural system deemphasizes community.  Because the values and goals of our society are different from HSP communitarian values, highly sensitive people have a challenge because they do not share common cultural ground with many other people.

Highly sensitive people can be wonderful friends, a characteristic which can be the basis for effective socializing. Here are 5 approaches that help HSP’s develop perspective and effective choices about social situations:

  1. Think of your common ground with others as a human common ground not  necessarily a cultural one.  Your capacity for friendship is a way to elevate people around you and enables you to lighten up. By adopting the role of friend, you are less at the mercy of how others identify you, since you have decided your role in advance. No matter what the outcome of a social interaction, you can be at peace with your positive role.
  2. Accept that you cannot win them all.  You are not a failure if  you are not friends will all people.  You may be inclusive and friendly but that does not guarantee that someone else is. Many people think modesty, humility, generosity and kindness are weaknesses and you probably will not change them.  If your values are very different from the people close to you that can be a hurtful situation – one that has to be dealt with by strong stress relief practices and cultivating supportive friends. Long term painful family situations often require therapy.
  3. Be selective about your involvements.  If your job requires huge amounts of energy due to negative politics and a lot of negative competition, make sure you balance your life in off hours with restorative activities.
  4. Look for roles that you are comfortable with that you can play in social situations. Many highly sensitive people are incredible knowledge resources.  Others are healers.  Use your strengths to establish your value with a group; it will help minimize or neutralize  perceptions about your being different and help you to be accepted.
  5. Beware of lightworker fatigue.  I hope this does not become a new class of illness. There is a change in human consciousness that is happening at this time, but it will take time.  Many highly sensitive people are part of the process of change, but it is very hard work.  It is important for HSP’s to respect themselves for their hard work. Taking care of your health and practicing serious stress reduction techniques, will help you be more effective in the long term.
How to minimize stress? Ultimately, taking a long term view, pacing yourself, being a good friend to yourself and others, and good self care can help highly sensitive people reduce their social anxiety so that they can enjoy other people more.