Friday, March 27, 2015

HSP Tools: Guided Imagery and Meditation

I recently wrote about HSPs and their struggles with developing self-compassion here. For HSPs that have  gone through a traumatic experience, this struggle is even harder. Trauma, by its very definition, is overwhelming and to deal with it, we might have run away into our minds and away from our bodies.

Our bodies might feel like the source of the pain. They might feel like the connecting thread to a  past that we might prefer to forget. And so, we unconsciously turn to our minds, seeking refuge in a different place. But we end up getting lost because it is our senses that connect us to the present.

On some level, we might unconsciously choose this trade off. Being disconnected and dissociated from our bodies might feel easier than facing the threat of re-experiencing traumatic memories.

So, being grounded can become an even greater challenge for HSPs suffering from trauma than it is for HSPs with more normal experiences.

So, what do we do? If we are suffering from the after-shocks of trauma, we need professional help. We need a therapist who can help us release the locked trauma in a safe way. Trying to do this on our own, without any help, would be discounting the level of injuries we have sustained.

It is okay to need help. It is okay to ask for it.

We don't want to open up wounds that we don't have the resources to deal with. What a sensitive therapist would do is use talk therapy along with bodywork and several other tools like guided meditations and imagery. 

If you are an HSP who hasn't suffered trauma, you can also use tools such as guided meditations on your own. Too often, we might see our sensitivity as only a burden.

We may never see that we are not just more sensitive to the bad stuff, we are also more sensitive to the good stuff. This can serve us well and become an advantage.

We can use our sensitivity and imagination to create more nurturing experiences. Using a suitable audio guide like this one by Belleruth Naparstek, we can start to form a better relationship with our bodies.

In a meditation such as this, we might be asked to imagine the pleasant vibrations of energy surrounding our bodies. We might be told to imagine being surrounded by a protective cushion of air or swimming in an endless sea with friendly dolphins all around us.

Essentially, what we are being asked to do is to actively use our imagination to create a safe space and access the good feelings that our senses can provide.

We feel the warm cocoon surrounding our bodies. We relax a little. We feel the dancing waves around us. The water feels good. We relax even more.

We have created something imaginary. But the effect on our bodies is real. We feel nurtured and secure. We feel a connection to our body and to the present.

Of course, this process is not always dream-like. It can unfreeze emotions and cause them to flow. This catharsis lessens our burdens.

Without the structure and guidance that the guided meditation provides, we may never have wanted to feel our sadness. But that would have just meant that our sadness would remain locked inside us.

By going through this process, we release what lies buried underneath. We have taken some more steps forward. We have used our sensitivity and imagination for our good instead of letting negative imagination drown us.

We now have another tool in our tool-box. We can pick it up and use it whenever we need it. 

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