Sensitivity = Toughness
Tough it out.
Suck it up.
You need some toughening up.
Get over it.
Stop being such a sissy.
If you happen to be sensitive (to lights, to food, within your body, to others' emotions, to cultural standards), the above phrases might have come your way over time. Used to be, the most sensitive member of the tribe or community was revered for their insight and ability to feel. They were revered as a shaman, a spiritual leader. But in our aggressive, ambitious culture, sensitivity is no longer desired or respected. Instead, we are told to close off that level of awareness, to shut down so we can function better. But better for whom?
It seems to me that becoming self-aware, truly doing the hard work of understanding what makes you tick -- what fills you with joy, what aggravates, what causes you to get out of whack (mentally or physically) --- is in fact, cultivating sensitivity. And contrary to what others would have you believe, looking critically so you can make the connections, find the bigger meanings, is hard work. And it isn't for everyone.
People take yoga for a variety of reasons: to reduce stress, to get in shape, because they heard it was good for you. But people who choose to practice yoga as a path toward self-awareness should be commended. Being asked to recognize what is going on, but not to judge it, isn't easy. We want to do things right and if it isn't right, we want to fix it now. But you can't fix it if you don't know what it is.
So every Eischens Yoga class asks you to observe. How are you standing? Where is your weight on your feet? What is your breathing like? Are you agitiated, happy, tired, content, hyper? And then be okay with what you learn. Checking in throughout your practice to see if anything is changing lets you appreciate the effects of the work. Do you stand differently after doing Warrior? Can you breathe more easily after doing some prone work? Is there more tension, or less?
Being able to recognize what is going on on the mat leads to observing yourself in other parts of your life. Tensions arise throughout the day. What causes them for you? A co-worker? Too much stimuli (bright lights, background music, crowds)? And what happens when you make changes? Which ones have a calming, balancing effect?
If you think being sensitive requires toughening up, I would counter that the sensitive ones are already on a tough path. But it is a path that can lead to so much deeper understanding than the path that says to "get over it."
It is tough work, but the rewards are great.
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Deep, and not so deep, thoughts on bodies, movement, yoga, art, shoes, parenting, dogs. You know, life.