Sensitive people have been “diagnosed” by psychology as different, even defective. And yes, being so sensitive in an often harsh and misunderstanding world can lead to “diagnosable” problems.
But I want to offer a different perspective on sensitivity, one that honors each sensitive person’s innate human spiritual capacity for wisdom grounded in the heart.
In my experience, sensitive people are always spiritually oriented, even if not consciously or intentionally. They often demonstrate a keen and empathetic intuition.
How does intuition work? For some, an inner knowing comes in images. For others it seems more like a voice. In the past, our religions have privileged those who appear to be able to channel what we think of as higher knowledge though visions or voices that seem to come from somewhere else, outside of us.
I believe that a sensitive person’s love of nature and animals, and finely tuned awareness of what is going on around them is a kind of practical spiritual capacity for connection that we all in fact have as humans: the intelligence of our body’s energy system. We have a gut sense: “Trust your gut,” we say.
We experience ourselves in the world first though our physical senses. Further information comes to us from the energy field that surrounds our bodies. Sensitive Intelligence is our ability to make meaning of what we are receiving and feeling.
Our physical bodies actually have nine senses which medical science divides into two categories, special and somatic.
The special senses rely on special organs. They include sight, hearing, taste, and smell.
The somatic senses, on the other hand, are alive throughout our whole body. Our body itself does the perceiving, not only a specialized organ in it.
These somatic senses include sensitivity to touch, pressure and vibration; the sensitivity to temperature and heat; the sensitivity to pain; and proprioception, the sensitivity to the body’s position and movement in space.
The other key sense is balance. Balance could be thought of as a special sense because it functions through the inner ear, but it is also a somatic sense because it is felt throughout the body.
We don’t think much about the somatic senses because we are not as conscious of them as we are of sight and hearing. The information they bring us is usually in the background of our awareness. Sensitive people are much more acutely aware of somatic experiences like touch, temperature, pain, any discomfort.
Beyond the physical and somatic senses, science is only beginning to look at subtle awareness in the energetic field that extends all around us, above and below us. Here is where we begin to find what we think of as intuition, even imagination. Subtle perception may include energy awareness, empathy, clairsentience (a sense of intuitive knowing), and “field perception” (perceiving through one’s energy field).
Subtle perception is not focused around a specific perceiving organ or feeling.
It is more like touching and feeling than it is like seeing and hearing, though the information may be translated into the familiar information of inner sight, sensation, emotion. The “organ” of the felt sense is the energetic field around us, which some call the aura.
This is the language of our bodies. We know this language! This kind of perception often delivers far more information in the moment than do our physical senses. Sensitive intelligence is my term for recognizing the way we understand and make meaning of what we are experiencing.
Here is an example:
There is a large pond or small lake near my house. If I stand at the water’s edge, I see the pond, the fields beyond it, and the mountains in the far distance. But if I step into the pond, I can not only see it but I am immersed in it. My eyes still see the water as something apart from me, but my body feels the pond’s presence all over me, surrounding me. My somatic senses tell me I’m standing or floating in the water.
I now feel something that my eyes could not tell me; I feel the phenomenon of being wet. I am getting far more information about the pond through my body’s awareness than I do through sight alone.
The coolest thing about this is that my subtle senses don’t just give me information—they connect me to the world around me. In the same way I could imagine being the distant mountains, or being a tree, a rock, an animal, another person…anything! I don’t just see. I become part of. I am immersed in knowing. The knowing expands me. It changes me in a kind of shamanic way.
Using only my physical senses, I have the experience of being separate, an observer. But when I extend my awareness into my body’s energy field through my subtle senses, I have a feeling of belonging, and of participation.
I don’t observe my balance as something outside of me, for example; balance is something I participate in. I don’t just observe; I become one with. Opening to my subtle perceptions brings me experience, understanding and information about this sense of oneness, of being immersed in and blended with what I perceive.
But—I don’t want to lose myself into the oneness. I need to maintain an awareness of my own identity and sovereignty. It is part of the whole sensory process.
This is why attunement to our body is important. Our whole being is the sensory organ of expansive awareness. While our sensitive awareness engages us with and blends us into the subtle fields of energy around us, our body localizes us, makes it possible for us to be conscious of of being the wave and then particle at the same time. This is fairly astonishing…
I love this new way of thinking about being highly sensitive. Instead of limiting and judging our sensitivity, it is an empowering and generative perspective.
Sensitivity is ultimately the intelligence of our soul. We are embodied soul Intelligence. We have the capacity to make meaning out of our innately human capacity to receive and interpret our body’s subtle perceptions, the experience of our felt sense.
I call this capacity Sensitive Intelligence.