This is a guest blog. Once in a while I speak with healers and teachers around the world and in these conversations, I ask them to share their view with me on a specific topic. My favourite topic is finding out more about how to deal with being highly sensitive and sound sensitive. Enjoy reading these insights!
Sound Sensitivity to Sound Sensuality through Mindful Response
By Oliver James Jenkin from Solenergies.uk
Is it Sound Sensitivity that we are suffering from or is it Sound Sensuality that we are missing? It was Shakespeare who said “Flowers are like the pleasures of the world”. It interests me that if we are mistaking auditory flowers for auditory weeds, and are focusing on how unpleasant we find them, how can we change the way we mindfully ‘feel’ sound.
Not all sounds appear as flowers and not all sounds are easily enjoyed, I concede. However, there is a wealth of irritation, anger, distraction and more that so many readily experience in response to particular sound stimuli. I want to acknowledge this to you – the reader, that Sound Sensitivity is at best unpleasant and at worst mind bending. It’s what we are bending our minds away from that I would like to focus on.
“Flowers are like the pleasures of the world”.
Place of peace
The quote above reminds me how the things that cause us disgust have a gem inside them, and that when we soften to them, we unlock an experience and a knowing of ourselves which heals and unfolds a place of peace right from within us. Through both experiences of feeling overwhelmed by the resistance that I felt and the relief and peace I found in releasing it, I’ve come to understand that in some ways we have to look at our poisons in this world as our medicines if we are truly to take ownership of our worlds. This is so important, and at times made more difficult, when it comes to our own unique sensory worlds because it is so acutely ‘felt’ and ‘personal’.
It’s not nice that feeling of being out of sorts inside your own skin. The itchiness and sharpness of a persistent sound or the randomness and the prolonged tension that can be felt in between sounds. Plus, and by no means least, the effects it can have on our relationships and the struggle we may find in feeling free to form new ones. During these responses I believe exists a chance to really expand our awareness to something that is more pleasing and enjoyable – not by destroying and rewriting instantly parts of our innate behaviour, but by gentle listening and employing self-compassion that just gently tips the scales, bit by bit, the other way.
To give you an insight into how this works, let’s talk about white, pink and brown noise, in all its ambient and Noisli available forms! It can be so attractive to those with hearing issues of all kinds as it adds a consistent auditory backdrop from which we feel some sort of mild ease when listening to it. It’s as if somehow, we tune our internal being from a consistent reference point we can measure ourselves by, it just lets us dissolve into its silence even though it’s not silent at all.
We can achieve the same awareness and reframing by creating that silence and stillness before we ‘react’ to sounds, perhaps changing what we might have done a thousand times before. Thus, we might relax enough to bring parts of ourselves back into conscious control.
Because what’s the loudest sound after the sound that is distressing you …?
The sound of your own voice in your own head!
Begs the question doesn’t it? Which one is easier to address …?
The sound outside or the sound inside?
And by sound I also mean the frustration, the tightness, jaw biting, tiredness, fatigue and confusions that can all come from a day to day experience with Sound Sensitivity.
Re-integrated ways of being with sound
People have reported to me how differently they relate to sound after embracing meditation. When they are in touch with that internal voice there suddenly seems to be a couple of split seconds of ‘stillness’ before a usual reaction is rehearsed. This stillness can often lead to the most surprising of responses and re-integrated ways of being with sound to just emerge almost out of nowhere.
“When they are in touch with that internal voice there suddenly seems to be a couple of split seconds of ‘stillness’ before a usual reaction is rehearsed”.
Inner loudness of our own being
When our nervous system is set, ready and primed to be defensive to sounds or other irritants we unfortunately find it a lot harder to receive many of the gifts that surround us. We also find it a lot harder to openly express ourselves as we are struggling with the inner loudness of our own being. Which ironically… we are far less likely to hear.
Are you starting to get a picture of the loop that might exist when it comes to Sound Sensitivity, and the way we relate to our struggle and uncomfortability?
Experience of sound
The intent to shift our awareness back to the broader enjoyment we experience of sound only strengthens the self-liberation and catharsis (process of releasing) that can come from ‘owning’ your Sound Sensitivity in a new way. Hearing anew, and lessening the grip on the narrative of the pain hearing HAS caused you, can significantly improve the joy to be found in our aural experiences of the world, relationships, ourselves etc…
So how do we return, or at least get the momentum going, to a state of fulfilled enjoyment when it comes to our hearing?
No one-size guideline
Ultimately, there is no one-size guideline as the sensuality is to be found in you. If distress is experienced in one way or another then it’s going to compound over time, resulting in more and more negatively associated experiences condensing the infinite reality potential that always exists, to a very small bandwidth of experience that we are set to as our system is so defensive, it cannot feel what is really there.
So, in this case…if you don’t ask you don’t get!
We need to prepare out internal environments to receive and experience positive experiences of sound, focusing on the enjoyment and pleasure to be found. Focusing a little less on what is (diagnosis, struggle points and even anatomical limitations) and what we want (feelings of well-being, less distress or annoyance, more focus + clarity and more).
Take back some control
Take back some control. Here are some tips and stages that I think illustrate what I mean. By working with what we have got, as in our minds and internal bodies and processes, we can take back some control and use it as a model to embrace not only our Sound Sensitivity but ourselves too.
From my experience of helping people with Sound Sensitivity, the nervous system has an incredibly profound way of relaxing itself when we come to a place where we hear the most important voice there is; our own.
1) Practice some sort of mindful response when feeling distress as a result of sound
Consider this a ‘mechanical’ process rather than a ‘moral’ one. You’re simply slowing down enough to actually FEEL what is going on inside of you, noticing the sensations in your mind, body and energy. At this point, and in fact the far less the better, there is absolutely no need to ‘work’ anything out.
2) Be soft
Through the reframing of your perception and by bringing it into your conscious awareness, you’ll have lots of new experiences and sensations! Exciting stuff! Being soft here is realizing that this may take some time to integrate into a ‘working model’ of your perception, including but not limited to your ears, brain and nervous system. Anger may arise, memories and deep emotions also, as a result of taking down the outermost armor that may have protected us from episodes that caused us to be Sound Sensitive in the first place. You will be pleasantly surprised with what you can find bearable over time and as such will feed that feeling of enjoyment with an eager anticipation of more good experiences to come.
3) Exit the Loop
By this I mean the last thing we want to do when we encounter a challenging sound is to flip out like we did before – and stay stuck in that loop! However, isn’t it funny that this is so often what we do? This is 2-fold reach for the next rung on the ladder and don’t beat yourself up for your failures when you miss it. Reaching for the next rung on the ladder is simply, in that moment, striving for a different and better feeling thought, being open to and searching for a different way of feeling and ‘being’ in that moment of distress. This is a way to prepare, practice and prolong the states of being that you choose to experience, and in this case your experience of your sonic world
“… that is where your healing GOLD lies.”
I welcome you to view it like this. That if in some way you are limited in receiving the world, such as with Sound Sensitivity…then maybe, just maybe, that is where your healing GOLD lies. That your Sound Sensitivity is actually a gift that can show you how to heal, how to be tolerant of yourself and others and how to embrace feeling more alive in general.
“… enjoy your receiving of reality just by accepting yourself as you are in that moment.”.
Richest resources of pleasure
Your sensory experience of this world is one of the richest resources of pleasure that can be found. It can be healthy, and wise even, to focus on the triggers, mechanisms and origins of your own personal Sound Sensitivity, but what I’m drawing your attention to here is your profound ability to reframe, re-map and enjoy your receiving of reality just by accepting yourself as you are in that moment.
Enjoy Sound Sensitivity
Most of the magic happens when you’re looking the other way, so I try my best to enjoy my own Sound Sensitivity, acknowledging and being grateful for the insights it gifts me. I’ve learnt how some of it is generational, how something that happened up the line can affect me now. Some comes from my childhood and certain reactions are intricately linked to certain sounds, sometimes causing deep emotional rivers to flow without my conscious knowing.
“If sensitivity is all about being primed for discomfort, sensuality is about being primed for exploration.”
Primed for exploration
Most of all however, I’ve learnt to trust my inner world, and stretch those couple of seconds before an unwanted reaction like an elastic band of kindness around me, so I can choose what I want to create. This is the sensuality part. Because yes, it’s sensitivity, but it’s personal to you. It’s your experiences and it’s important that you get to know them by experiencing them. If sensitivity is all about being primed for discomfort, sensuality is about being primed for exploration.
I’ve drawn my point of focus down from the causes, results and the negative impacts (as I really don’t have to understand everything) to enjoying it for what it is, embracing my own responses and just how much enjoyment I get from hearing and discovering the world through my ears.
So shushhhh! The universe hasn’t figured out yet that everything is going great just by focusing on the well-being and accepting myself as I am … or maybe the universe has figured out and that’s why it’s going great…
I’ll let you decide 🙂
Oliver James Jenkin from Solenergies.uk
Take the Sound Champion Course
On the Sound Champion Course e-course we speak about reframing your story regarding sounds and I will guide you on how to change your relationship to triggering sounds. On this course for sound sensitive people we look at: recondition yourself, reframe your story and rearrange your life.
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