Meditation may actually have a greater effect for highly sensitive people than it does for others — with benefits that go way beyond a peaceful state of mind.
I never fit in growing up. “The outsider” seemed to be a role I was destined to play in life. As a child, I felt lost most days, as if I was beamed down from another planet. And it’s because of this perception that I also believed that there was something “wrong” with me. That perhaps it meant, deep down, I was unlovable.
Being a highly sensitive child, my sensory receptors were on hyperdrive. The emotions I felt were overwhelming. I felt naked and exposed to the negative energies in my orbit, with no outlet for release. There was no safe space to share what I was feeling, and no haven where I could feel free to be me.
Certainly, being ostracized by the people around me didn’t help matters. I was constantly bullied and told I was “too sensitive,” “too weak,” “too quiet” — in general, “too much.” This surged my belief that I didn’t belong, that I was weird, and that I was different.
I envied how people danced through life with such ease. They spoke a language I could never quite understand, which left me feeling more isolated, more alone. This belief later fueled my desire to find peace; to find my little corner of the world where I could be free.
Being Introduced to Meditation
Years passed and I blinked into a new age. The world around me felt more manufactured and energized. The brightness of the lights only darkened the stars above, which then shadowed my surroundings. I wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the city I lived in, but it proved too difficult to maneuver. And the desire to break free from the physical machinations of my life weighed heavily on my soul. In truth, I just wanted to run and hide.
Until, finally, I was shown a different way. My father’s tragic death forced me into a spiritual awakening that painted a magical world for me to walk in. It’s here where I finally felt the peace and freedom I searched for my whole life. I felt connected to the authentic me for the first time in my life, and it’s through this discovery I appreciated the gifts of being a highly sensitive person (HSP).
But I also had one foot planted in reality, and although this new magical world allowed me to see with a new lens, my physical form still dealt with the constant alienation I felt from being an HSP. So I knew, in order to gain back control over my emotions and thoughts, I needed to develop survival skills, ways to hone and protect my sensitive gifts. Like Batman, I needed my very own utility belt, with tools to help me live in a society that was stimulated externally.
This is when I turned to meditation and committed to a daily practice to learn how to control the aspects of being an HSP that constantly tried to overpower my senses. Meditation required me to focus on the rhythm of my breath while I witnessed my thoughts as they moved in and out of my mind. Research shows that this process has an extraordinary effect on your brain, directly altering your thoughts and emotions.
If you’re in need of assistance with being a highly sensitive person — or you simply need more tools to add to your own utility belt — try turning to meditation. It can help you build practical tools to incorporate into your lifestyle, and develop a new mindset that can enhance your HSP traits into useful skillsets.
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Meditation May Have a Greater Effect for HSPs Than it Does for Others
While meditation is a healthy practice for anyone, it may actually have a bigger impact on highly sensitive people. This is because of an HSP trait that Andre Sólo, author of the new book Sensitive along with co-author Jenn Granneman, calls the sensitive “Boost Effect.” According to Sólo, the Boost Effect means that HSPs actually get more of a boost from the same beneficial things that would help anyone.
“We see the Boost Effect in sensitive people of all ages, in nearly every context,” Sólo said. He described two studies that illustrate the effect. In the first study, sensitive children got better results out of cognitive behavioral therapy than other children did, and were more likely to overcome their anxiety than less-sensitive children. In the other study, sensitive adults were more likely to save their marriages from divorce, and even improve their overall relationship quality, than less-sensitive adults were — even though they all got the same couples training course.
“These examples are not flukes,” Sólo said. “The things that give most people only a small leg up give highly sensitive people a massive boost.” Being an HSP, Sólo said, “is like having a built-in rocket engine.”
Meditation may be one way HSPs can ignite that engine. To be fair, there is little direct research on this — most of the studies that illustrate the Boost Effect involve either education programs, mental health programs, or social support. However, meditation is exactly the kind of self-development tool that sensitive people respond strongly to. “HSPs are wired to process information more deeply than other people do,” Sólo said, “So they absorb more from healthy practices and do more with them.” That may be especially true with meditation, Sólo said, since it is a non-stimulating activity that cultivates calm, which is what HSPs need to thrive.
Does that mean every HSP is an instant meditation master? No, but the practice you put in may pay off in unique ways — and give you some powerful new skills.
9 Life-Changing HSP Survival Skills You Can Learn by Meditating
1. It’ll help you develop mindfulness and presence.
When you commit to a mediation practice, the development of mindfulness and presence is almost immediate. In a session, you hone your awareness for your thoughts and feelings, as well as your breath. This observation is key in helping you distinguish between your own feelings and someone else’s, because it establishes a boundary to assess your thoughts and a situation with clear vision.
This helps to gain control over your emotions, as well as to the external stimuli you attract. With the breath, you foster a relationship with the here and now, and strengthen the ability to stay aware of your inner and outer world. This is your protection for when you become overwhelmed by someone else’s emotions, or by your environment, and are unable to center yourself on a present task.
2. It’ll allow you to learn detachment, so you won’t get attached to any one outcome.
Mindfulness and presence are only a couple of the benefits of meditation. When you start to deepen into these skillsets, you will also begin to understand the importance of detachment. Your relationship with your breath builds your connection to presence, and then, as a natural reaction, you will realize that any thought, emotion, and situation is impermanent.
When you strengthen this mindset, you will let go of any future expectations, past hang-ups, or someone’s opinion — because it is all temporary. This discovery will liberate you to live more in the present moment because you will now realize it is life’s only reality.
This doesn’t mean you stop caring about the people around you — we HSPs have a lot of empathy, after all — but the weight of their opinion is removed because their feelings and mood is also temporary. With this emotional space freed up, you can now use your HSP gifts on matters that truly matter, those that make a positive impact and bring you joy.
3. It’ll help you understand your authentic self.
As you deepen into your inner and outer world through mediation, you start to uncover truths and realities for how you think, and why you think the way you do. This healthy separaion is important to understand: You are not your thoughts or your emotions.
As this observation mode is strengthened, you can ask yourself, “Who is having these thoughts?” Embrace this process and form a connection with the part of you that has remained hidden for so long. Foster a relationship with yourself, consisting of self-love and self-respect.
This will allow you to embrace your HSP gifts, because you will feel all the wisdom, creativity, and resourcefulness that is separate from your thoughts or emotions, and even your physical form. In turn, you will feel an unshakeable confidence, allowing you to live more in the freedom of the present moment
4. It’ll allow you to pay better attention to “energy” — yours and other people’s.
You can think of a person’s attitude, mood, and intentions as their “energy.” These are things HSPs can sense — and we are particularly affected by it, whether or not it’s obvious.
That’s because we move at a different frequency than most, and some energy is not going to be a good match. But did you know that your heightened awareness and senses can be honed and trained through mediation?
When you begin to meditate, you learn to become a hound dog for detecting energy, especially the ones that don’t align with your own. Some may say this is using your intuition, something we HSPs excel at, too.
A meditation practice gives you a better understanding for who you are deep-down, and this awareness is vital when an outside thought or emotion is trying to penetrate through. Be present to this experience, because you are already sensitively wired to pick up on others’ thoughts and feelings, so use this to your advantage.
If someone — or any environment — does not align with your own, give yourself permission to walk away. Your self-love and confidence is your protection against any energy that is going to weigh you down.
5. It will help you enact boundaries and say “no.”
Most HSPs are also people-pleasers, which is rooted in our desire to want to help and make other people happy. So when an invite comes our way for a dinner party or an office get-together, often our immediate response is to say “yes” — without checking in on our own needs.
But it’s important to give yourself permission to decline an invite whenever you feel called to do so, and meditation can help you say “no” with more conviction. After all, boundaries are crucial for HSPs, even though it may be hard to set them.
As you begin to deepen your meditation practice, you are simultaneously crafting an inner sanctuary built from mindfulness, presence, detachment, and self-love. Now, by building awareness for your truest needs, you will see the things you value with a fresh perspective. And you will cherish your time more because of the profound understanding of presence you have learned.
So learn to say “no” more often — and be okay with the consequences. Your loved ones will understand, and if they don’t, then that’s not your concern. You don’t owe anyone anything. Bring your valued attention back into your inner world.
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6. It will give you time to recharge, which will reduce overstimulation.
Sensitive people tend to give themselves fully and completely to everyone and everything. As rewarding as this is, it can also be extremely draining, which is why it’s vital to carve out time for yourself. And living in the digital age certainly makes it more challenging to find pockets of solace, a refuge away from all the noise and chatter.
That’s why a consistent, and daily, meditation practice is helpful to kickstart a habit of making time with just yourself. After all, that is what meditation asks of you: to sit alone. And the more time you spend alone, the more you’ll get to understand yourself, which will deepen your ability for self-love. Plus, since HSPs experience so much stimulation, alone time is vital for us so we can recharge.
Over time, you will find that your desire to spend time with your own company increases — to not only meditate, but to listen to your favorite playlists, catch up on comforting TV shows or films, curl up with a great book, or dive into a new creative project. This is your time, so enjoy it!
7. It will help you find the ideal activities for your personality.
Developing mindfulness through meditation certainly makes you more selective about your time, but this doesn’t mean you have to hide out at home every day. Get a little creative and see what’s available locally for you to discover. HSPs tend to be creative anyway!
This is a perfect opportunity to cultivate self-love by setting regular dates with yourself to get to know the real you inside, away from everyone else. Why not take your meditation session outdoors to a park or go for a nice walk? And watching a film at a theater is always one of my personal favorites. Or, spend an afternoon at an art gallery — that can never disappoint. You can also treat yourself to lunch at your favorite restaurant or take up a new hobby or activity to meet other HSPs also looking for positive energy and deep conversations. Find what works for you!
8. It will help you tune out your physical environment and tune inward.
Environments have a direct impact on an HSP’s mental health, whether you’re at a loud concert or stuck at a bustling airport. But, let’s be real, your home and workplace are where you spend most of your time, so if these environments are negatively impacting your health, they should be addressed and dealt with.
And, yes, meditation can help.
Through your practice, you will build your awareness and decrease your tolerance for anything that does not bring you peace and positivity. And if you are unable to leave a chaotic or loud environment, meditation trains you to practice detachment and live in the present to make your days more manageable and have purpose.
So, until you’re ready to make major changes, these tools will save you from further pain and harm. Remember, meditation is always available and can help you along the journey to a more permanent solution.
9. It’ll help you prioritize your own needs, first and foremost.
HSPs have huge hearts and feel deeply when others are in pain. They are empathetic and help those around them as much as possible. Another’s suffering is their suffering.
But if not probably honed, we know these traits can become quite overwhelming and can have negative impacts on our physical and mental health. And your well-being should always be your priority, because if you are suffering, then you can’t be in service to those that will benefit from your gifts.
Once again, this is where meditation can help. It can train you to use your HSP traits and then turn them into important skillsets, while also protecting yourself in the process. Through mindfulness, you will learn to be in more control of your gifts.
A consistent practice can also help you become more in tune with your inner world, foster self-love, and deepen your authentic self, which casts a protective shield around you. So if you want to be in service to others, which is admirable, don’t forget to check in with your own needs and choose you, always.
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