Regular NCHS group walks for HSPs

Hello fellow HSPs 🙂

I am delighted to announce that the NCHS is now offering more regular group walks. HSP Caroline has done a sterling job facilitating these, so I have asked her to make it a regular monthly thing. The locations will vary and go further afield at times, but will still have that HSP-friendly energy that HSPs have loved. You will be able to see the walks on our Meetup calendar for events in Hampshire.

If anyone in other counties in the UK would like to run one of these for us, do contact me and I will see what we can do to support another regular walk opportunity.

barbara_allen-wPlease note that you will need to RSVP and pay in advance from now on our Meetup site (£3.50 currently). We have previously had a little difficulty collecting the small sum of cash on the day – some have forgotten to pay or come without cash on them. We really do depend on the contributions to help keep events running. If you cannot pay by PayPal, let me know and I will give you the online banking details. Alternatively, send a cheque and I will RSVP you from this end once a I receive it (payable to ‘Growing Unlimited’, Annadell House, Clatford Lodge, Andover, SP11 7DH).

Enjoy your walks, I hope to join you from time to time 🙂

Best wishes,

Barbara

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: barbara@hspsensitive.com)
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International HSP Gathering Retreat in the U.K in 2018

Hello All,

Just a heads up that there will be an International HSP Gathering Retreat in the U.K. (most likely in June 2018). These gatherings were co-created by Jacquelyn Strickland (http://www.lifeworkshelp.com/hspgathering.htm­) and Dr Elaine Aron (http://www.hsperson.com) for the benefit of HSPs. I have co-hosted a number of them in USA and Europe. They are residential for four days, in a natural and beautiful setting, and each Gathering has a special theme. It is a chance to learn more about your trait, to find your growing edges and to commune with HSPs in a very rare, HSP-friendly setting. Dr Elaine Aron often attends on one of the days to give a talk and answer questions.

One of the beautiful things that I like about these gatherings is the way you can do what you need. None of the things on offer (talks, group discussions, creative opportunities, guidance opportunities) at the Gathering is compulsory, you are encouraged to sleep or rest when you like, and healthy, nourishing meals are provided for you. There is no special requirement in terms of prior knowledge, just be in a good enough place to be a positive companion in the group, whether that is by participating verbally or in action, or simply by your quiet and attentive presence. If you have known about your trait a long time, you will still learn and experience growth here. The gatherings are kept small, maximum is usually approximately 25 attendees, meaning that there is plenty of time to meet needs, learn at depth and make lasting friends.

Plan ahead financially if you want to attend. These gatherings are residential, in lovely settings and have internationally well-known and respected leaders. Overall, the gatherings are not only empowering, but life-changing and affirming of your trait. Do come if you can. Every effort is made to keep costs of the Gathering as low as possible. I have made a (very) rough calculation that it may cost in the region of £800 per person in total – it is a real commitment, I know, for most HSPs. However, for what it is and the fact that the fee includes accommodation, food and the wisdom and support of such HSPs as Dr Elaine Aron and Jacquelyn Strickland means that value for money is not in question. Do consider coming along, I am not sure how many more of these opportunities there will be.

barbara_allen-wMore details of the Gathering and venue will go up on our Meetup calendar as soon as I have them, but feel free to ask any questions in the meantime in the comments section below 🙂. NB: Replies to this will be seen by all – if you have a private question, please message me at barbara@hspsensitive.com or email Jacquelyn through her website.

Warmly,

Barbara

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: barbara@hspsensitive.com)

Time to Bounce Back

I hope the coming holidays will bring some much needed time for you to rest, recharge and bounce back with renewed energies and motivation in the coming year. This may be a good time to start contemplating ways to shape your lives to fit better your sensitive nature, and continue on your path of becoming a more authentic and empowered highly sensitive person. The world perhaps never needed more sensitive souls, who are willing to demonstrate more meaningful ways to live, than what is in the mainstream culture. And this can be especially important at this festive time of the year, which can easily overwhelm us all by its increasing demands.

Peter Messerschmidt’s recent article about overwhelm reminded me how important it is to recognise that our overwhelm is not just to do with us personally (ie. our highly sensitive nature), but our world itself seems to become more and more overwhelming. Ironically, in this age of information we seem to get more lost about where to find information that is trustworthy and meaningful, and how to limit it to a digestible amount. Technological advances also seem to create more frustrations and sap away more of our time then ever, instead of making our lives easier. The world of politics appears to be in a turmoil, producing some unexpected events in 2016 that shocked a lot of caring sensitive people. This raises some big questions for all HSPs regarding how to protect our sensitivity from external issues like these, without completely isolating ourselves from the world.

justletgoIt can be helpful to remind ourselves that our biology, such as our highly sensitive nervous system, has not been able to change as fast as the external world has been changing around us. This means that adapting to our rapidly transforming environment is becoming increasingly challenging. But perhaps this is not such a bad thing. A Krishnamurti quote comes to mind about this:“It is no measure of good health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” At times the main issue is not how to get to somewhere, but to know where is worth going to. Keeping our priorities right can be our saviour, whenever we have to find ways to cope with too much. Bearing in mind what are our essential needs, and what are just desires influenced by the messages received from the outside world, can be what saves us from wasting our limited time and energy on things that ultimately won’t matter. Learning more about the basic facts about your highly sensitive trait can help you to see what are essential needs for you as an HSP, and give you ideas about how to create a life that fits your sensitive nature better.

Most people – but HSPs especially – can also benefit from dedicating some time to inner contemplation  – away from the noise of the world. This can bring you much needed clarity about what matters to you the most and steps you can take right now towards those goals. You may have noticed that the HSP newsletter I have been editing has been more sporadic than usual in the past year. The main reason for this was that my own contemplation about ways forward lead me to decide to go for a long sabbatical abroad, which has been a mighty undertaking. As probably many of you, I have been finding that modern life has been making increasingly severe demands on my time and energies and felt that a drastic re-balancing was needed to get out of what felt like constant fire-fighting mode, and start honouring truly my sensitive nature. So, I am writing this issue from outside of the UK, in more peaceful surroundings, where I have been recharging slowly for some time now. Giving myself ‘time-out’ is not just about resting however – it is also time for looking at the big picture instead of getting lost in the daily grind. It is about actively reflecting on my life and anything that I could change to make it better for me. I know that going on a long sabbatical is not a solution that can work for most of you. I am hoping however, that writing about this can motivate you to direct your energies towards pondering on what is truly essential for you and what are the things that you can let go or at least park for a while. Any bit of extra time you can give yourself for this will pay you back multi-fold, more than you ever thought possible.

In my own quest to create time to focus on what is essential, I had to let go some commitments that were dear to me – such as organising HSP Meetups in Brighton – which was not easy. Luckily some lovely HSPs stepped in to continue to organise some HSP events locally, and also the National Centre for High Sensitivity in the UK is organising HSP Parlours now that highly sensitive people can attend on-line. ildiko_davis(If you are interested in attending this, it happens via an application called ZOOM , which is very similar to Skype and you can read more about using it here.) Never forget that it is not just solitude that can help sensitive people to bounce back, but also meaningful contact with kindred spirits, who understand and care. I hope this new way to talk about your sensitive trait with other HSPs will allow more of you to benefit from learning from each other on your journey and encourage you to accept and embrace your sensitivity more. I  also hope that 2017 will be a year when many highly sensitive people will find their own unique ways to overcome overwhelm and start living the kind of life that works for us.

Article written by Ildiko Davis (e-mail: ildiko.davis@yahoo.co.uk)

Highly Sensitive Children at School

One of the most common enquiries I receive here at the National Centre for High Sensitivity is from parents of Highly Sensitive Children (HSCs) who are struggling at school. In a way, those who are reading this Newsletter are quite likely to understand the very real challenges HSCs face during their education – after all, most of us are HSPs and remember all too well the joys and tribulations.Unfortunately, there are a lot of parents who, for quite an extended period, find themselves working through a maze of concerns and explanations for their child’s behaviour and responses and often come to the NCHS after years of worry or frustration. Reading Dr Elaine Aron’s book ‘The Highly Sensitive Child’, or coming into contact with an aware parent, therapist or teacher provides the impetus to reframe what is going on for their child and gives hope and direction for support.

Some children are fortunate to have parents like us, who with proper information and understanding, can attune to the needs of the highly responsive child – but others are not so fortunate. Although we as individuals cannot help each and every child we come across, something we can do is talk about high sensitivity (or high responsivity, sensory processing sensitivity) more freely. Even if our child is doing well in school and at home, let’s remember that this may be because we know how to support them to be all they can be. That is information that is very useful to share when the time is right.

It is becoming more and more important to help schools and their staff to understand the appropriate needs of HSCs. They have as much right as anyone to enjoy their schooling and to have their educational and welfare needs met in appropriate ways. Making up at least 15% of the school population, they are a significant minority who have lots to offer and whose failure to reach their full potential is often missed due to their better than average achievement levels and ability to hide or mis-define their stress.

If you have the ear of any professional person, do point them in the direction of Dr Elaine Aron’s books and remind them that they can access training and guidance through the NCHS (www.hspsensitive.com). We train professionals and also keep a list of people who have an interest in supporting highly sensitive people, children and their families. You can also help by volunteering to take part in important studies around education and highly sensitive children that are in the process of being set up at this time (contact us for more details).

In particular we have a fledgling project underway that is looking to provide more input for teenage HSCs. Although this is tiny at the moment, in the planning stage and working on a micro-budget, any input will help us to start thinking about how we can appropriately support highly sensitive teenagers at a time when pressure is on and identity and confidence are major growth areas.

barbara_allen-wIf you have any comments on the above, do please share them with us; and to those of you who have already started fledgling work projects, THANK YOU! My appreciation goes out especially to Nina, Nicole and Nicola who have all begun the worthwhile journey towards mentoring the next generation of parents and highly sensitive people .

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: hspsensitive@hotmail.com)

Introduction to Floating

HSP Pathways

 

HSP Pathways – May 2016

“The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Carl Rogers

Living in a world dominated by sensory overload and ‘busyness’, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time necessary to enable our bodies and minds to return to their natural state of relaxation, particularly following a busy or stressful day, event or time in our lives.

I began to explore the world of ‘Floating’ after my physical and mental health began to suffer from working in a stressful job and studying and I remembered having read something in one of Elaine Aron’s newsletters ( http://www.hsperson.com/pages/2Nov10.htm ) about floatation tanks being helpful for HSP’s and stress and decided to investigate further.

Two and a half years and five or six floats later, I can say with absolute conviction that the one-hour experience of being able to ‘let go’ within the floatation tank is like having an intensive spa break. It enables the deep feeling of relaxation you feel after a power nap, loosened muscles felt after a lengthy massage and a mind free to wander without being tied up in knots that you feel after an extended break away. All this, within the privacy of your own suite and without the stress or discomfort that can sometimes be experienced when having a massage.

FloatingThe facility I went to in Kent
(Cornmill Health Centre) provided comprehensive written information about floating and on my first visit the helpful staff talked me through what to expect. I had my own private suite with a shower and although the float lasts an hour you can have the suite for 90 minutes. The float costs £25 (cheaper if you book in blocks of 5) and you have control over how much, if any, light you wish to keep within the floatation experience. I have experimented with different settings and find that it varies according to how I’m feeling on each occasion as to whether I want to have the space completely dark or with some gentle background light on.

To start with, I found it difficult to relax, however with each float I had, my body and mind became more accustomed to what to expect and now on entering the water and lying back, my body begins to relax much quicker and the ‘mental traffic’ fades away. As the water is highly salted your body is fully supported and you do not actively need to do anything to remain afloat. The water itself is shallow (approx. 25cm) and you can use a neck pillow for additional comfort if you prefer.

The facility I visit provides what I would call more of a ‘personalised floatation pool’ which is tall enough to stand up in and although I’m nearly 6 feet tall there is enough space lying flat to do an extended star stretch and just about reach the all 4 corners of the pool! I have not tried what might be called flotation pods or tanks you have to climb into and lie flat as I enjoy the space of the flotation pool and the opportunity to move around. However, there does not appear to be an industry standard, so it would be worth checking out what facilities exist within your local area if you are thinking of trying it out. Some flotation ‘pods’ may not be suitable for people who dislike being in confined spaces.

Experiencing floating has provided me with an addition to my ‘HSP self-care toolkit’ and although I do not have the opportunity to go on a regular basis, I find that going as and when I feel in need of some more intensive relaxation provides the opportunity for some valuable ‘me’ time and the chance to literally let the stress and tension from daily life melt away.

Article written by Liz Fraser (e-mail: HSPpathways@outlook.com)

HSPs and Self Care

I have been doing a lot of work around the topic of HSP Self-Care lately. Not that this is a new thing, but I have noticed that more and more of my work with HSPs relates to this.

Why is this topic so important and what makes it something we have to return to again and again?
One of the reasons, I guess, is that the very thing we are trying to reduce (our holistic stress), prevents us from feeling able to consistently plan for or work with ideas that relate to our self-care. Further, finding time in the diary to include things that are good for us means being able to use our logistical brain. The trouble is, stress makes it hard to focus and use our working memory effectively. Then, the other difficulties, our physical and emotional fatigue, come into the picture – how can we work up enough confidence and energy to actually give ourselves the space and permission to do that logistical and subsequent self care work in the first place? Why is this all so damn hard?!

Well… its a complex story, and not possible to explore fully in a short piece like this, but we can make a start by going back to basics. Whatever is going on, it’s really important to remember that everything we experience is filtered through our four HSP sub-traits – Depth of Processing, Emotional Intensity, Sensory Sensitivity and our potentially Over-stimulated nervous system (D.O.E.S. – E A Aron PhD). So even our attempt at Self-Care comes via these four areas.

We also need to remember that our attitude to our sensitivity and our normal needs is influenced by our upbringing and experiences. If we have been told we are not tired, when we actually are, we may have learned to ignore and in fact not plan for taking care of fatigue. The stress this neglect brings about causes an increase in our cortisol levels, which in cases of long-term and chronic stress, actually makes it hard for us to focus and even to remember things properly. With what attitude do we observe and act on this neglect and its effects?

If you are someone who was criticized for your emotional sensitivity or intensity, have you spent a lifetime failing to make room for those emotional responses in your life – both the joyful ones and the sad or frustrated ones? Self-care isn’t all about the physical, eating a good diet and getting the right amount of sleep – its also about making space and honouring your natural feelings, the beauty of their intensity and the role they play in directing you towards what is good for you. It’s also about surrounding yourself with positive people.

There are also your gifts – potential skills and experiences that need good, healthy soil in which to grow. Self-care, of course underlies the development of your abilities and even deeper, gives the right environment to accommodate and reference your soul, (whatever soul means to you).

Barbara_Allen-WI think you are getting the picture here, that Self-Care, especially for HSPs is a complex and holistic matter. It includes the past, even though the focus has to be in the present. It includes the future because that is the way to your authentic self-hood. It includes making space for all that you are as well as who you are to others. Above all, Self Care requires as much respect and attention as anything else – its part of our life-blood, keeps us strong and able to contribute what highly sensitive people offer the world when they are well. ‘What’s that?’, I hear you wondering – Well, that’s for another piece….

Article written by Barbara Allen-Williams (e-mail: hspsensitive@hotmail.com)