I came across the following article and was intrigued by the appropriation of mindfulness, or what we have come to associate as mindfulness, by corporate America. It is only natural for a society obsessed with time, productivity, and profit to latch onto anything they may imagine can even remotely increase their bottom line. In that sense using mindfulness as a tool with which to manipulate and exploit people is predatory and only a step away from invading the mind in other, more invasive ways. On the other hand not all of corporate America is as described. There are progressive organizations who value their employees and care enough to institute any stress-reduction techniques they think will help. However, reducing one’s stress does nothing to address the root cause of the stress or the mindset around increased productivity.
These issues notwithstanding I find that my primary interest in the tradition we call mindfulness is geared toward more than simply reducing stress or a sense of “presence in the moment.” Those things are very good for HSPs too, but the real value lies in learning to quiet the rush of non-stop mind chatter that accompanies the stimulation we take in. Quieting the mind to a point of clearing the mind, to a point of stillness is the real point of mindfulness. From that still point one can then objectively acknowledge new things that happen, but with no judgement and no particular action. HSPs spend far too much time occupied, or preoccupied with what-ifs, what-nows, and unfounded anxiety so much so that it may be incapacitating for some HSPs. Mindfulness for those individuals at the upper reaches of sensitivity where far too much is happening in terms of stimulation-response is where mindfulness has real value and the power to change lives.
For individuals who are unable to quiet their mind due to trauma, anxiety, or other issues the incorporation of any contemplative practice is going to be of great value in their daily lives. Some HSPs find anxiety to be too much and are medicated by well-meaning psychiatrists or other doctors. Others resort to some form of self-medication with the dangers ever present for addiction and reduced functioning and happiness. Building a contemplative practice into one’s life should be a cornerstone, not an afterthought.
When I advocate for mindfulness it’s not to jump on a bandwagon and appear to spout forth the latest, faddish mystical Eastern adaptations. Rather, my intent is to point HSPs toward techniques that I am fully confident will work and that can have a meaningful impact in people’s lives through improving one’s openness, gentle awareness, and indeed what can become a very useful spiritual practice.
Fellow HSPs: self-care is inclusive of physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions and we must practice a fierce self-care, as if our lives depend on it. In the end our well-being, peace of mind, and well-functioning in all aspects of our lives depends on our ability to quiet the mind chatter that overtakes so many of us. Mindfulness as a practice, a spiritual practice, holds the potential for profound transformation and may be one of the simplest, easiest ways HSPs can begin to become empowered HSPs.
Dr. Tracy Cooper is a highly sensitive person researcher, consultant, and author who offers one-on-one consulting for HSPs and sensation seeking HSPs in career transition. His web site is at drtracycooper.com.