Today I walked along the Savannah River. I usually avoid this because the highway traffic creates a noise and energy that are generally disturbing and uncomfortable. This is too bad because it’s the one place near my house that has abundant nature to walk/jog/bike through.
Today as I walked closer and closer to the highway noise, I thought to myself, what if it’s okay? What if it’s not painful? What if it doesn’t hurt? My body relaxed a little bit.
I’ve recently noticed that I don’t just hear sound. I feel sound. I feel the vibrations and tones and places where it touches the body, including the organs, the bones, and what is sometimes called the energy body. Discordant or loud noise doesn’t just hurt my ears, it actually affects much more of my experience of being.
Today I was able to let the highway noise/energy be exactly as it was, and relax in it for a little while. As I stood with my bare feet in the cool Savannah River, I felt the wind blowing gently on my body, and the bright sun, radiant and warm on my skin. Noticing the textures of the rocks under my feet, I experienced the highway noise as moving through my body, vibrating my cells – and for a little while, I became aligned within that frequency.
And then I was done. And I wanted to get out of there pretty darn quickly. I headed back to the car.
What’s the Balance?
When I was feeling very sick about two months ago, I noticed that the noise of airplanes overhead was enough to deeply shake my state – to make me very uncomfortable. When I felt physically better the next day, I didn’t even notice planes on the same flight path. Because of this, I’ve pondered the balance between honoring the exquisite sensitivity of this being (me) and relaxing into what’s previously been uncomfortable, even painful.
“Ow, that hurts!”
When I was about 6 years old, my family went to Florida on vacation. The first day we were there, the sky was a brilliant blue. The sun shimmered on the water of the aquamarine swimming pool, glared off the white-painted cement, glistened off the sandy beach, and danced on the azure ocean. I was incredibly uncomfortable. It was way too bright for me. I couldn’t see and I had to keep my eyes closed. I was in pain. In response to my attempt to get help, I was told to “stop being such a baby”, and “only grownups need sunglasses”. I tried to play inside the condo, but was quickly thrown out… “it’s beautiful outside, go play by the pool or the beach”. Of course these were the hardest places to be.
I learned repeatedly that sensitivity is not acceptable, it’s inconvenient, and unwelcome. I think many people experience this type of response to their deep sensitivity. Much of society is still in the “toughen up and take it” phase – and while there’s certainly something to be said for that (at the right times) there’s also a place for recognizing, and embracing, keenly acute sensitivity.
Appreciating the Gifts
These days I’m welcoming my sensitivity, and noticing places where I turn away from it, suppress it, shut it down. Doing so has enabled cultivation of its gifts – including fine discernment of subtle expressions, sword-like clarity, and heightened ability to precisely describe nuanced distinctions.
I’ve come to the understanding that noticing my resistance, and relaxing into it, may make some of what has been painful less so. This is most likely the case when the “contracting away from” sounds and light is due to habit and/or fear of the effect it will have, rather than being with what is happening in the moment.
The deeper level of acceptance of my own sensitivity, and the gifts it brings, is an ongoing journey.
And, that said, I’ll be posting soon about what I did when I was sick that made so much of a difference that I didn’t notice the planes the next day. For me that was a big deal… Stay tuned for Part 2.