If Grit is the father archetype - the archetype responsible for the deep cultivation of all the others - then Sensate is the mother archetype - the one that produces deep meaning and connection in the world. Sensitivity is a superpower, but it requires development in the other archetypes for it to be wielded as an asset, rather than a liability.
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When Your Sensate Personality Traits are an Asset
You are often recognized as a wise person or “seer” — hyper-aware of yourself, people and your surroundings to the point of prediction. You have an ability to see possibilities and can envision innovative outcomes with big-picture thinking. Rarely second-guessing yourself, you have a strong connection to your feelings, sensation, and have the ability to act upon your intuition. With this embodied awareness, you have mastered the practice of meditation and can walk through the world with more mindfulness than the average person.
You have exquisite sensitivity, highly aware of the healing that can take place in the body and mind when in a relaxed state — free from the confines of fixed narrative — always open to dynamic changes that inevitably take place inside and out. Your openness attracts many people, longing for a similar disposition and aura of grace, power and peace.
When Sensitivity is Liability
Your hyper-sensitivity becomes a distraction to the point where you can no longer focus your mind. Too many signals create excessive “noise” and affect your usual state of peace, narrowing your focus in stress-response. You feel and ‘see’ everything to the point where it clouds your thinking, perhaps to delusion. Typical signal vs noise confusion.
Instead of “monkey mind” it’s as if you have “ants in your pants” — an unsettledness in the body that opens you up to emotional bursts. Your only solace is to run away to a self-prescribed haven, far away from any stress or stimulus. Aloof and emotional, you may begin to make up stories to justify the extra download of information you are receiving from an amplification of sensations — unable to tell the difference between intuition and narrative.
Extreme cases bring you to the point of delusion, hyper-activity or schizophrenia, unable to anchor your thoughts or steady your actions.
Corresponding Pillar of Mind Body Training:
There is a percentage of the population - I've seen stats as high as 20% - that is simply more sensitive than the others, meaning they have greater sensory processing sensitivity. They naturally feel more than others, but not necessarily in the sense that they're more emotionally reactive.
HSP's (highly sensitive people) and empaths take in more data from their environments. Where you might gaze at a beautiful sunset, the highly sensitive person next to you might see the same, while simultaneously being aware of the breeze, a car horn honking in the distance, tension in their shoulders, and the depth of their breath.
Capacity in this archetype is easy to train in some respects, and very difficult in others. At low levels of training, sensitivity development comes down to learning to receive more data / information per unit of time than you did prior. You literally become more 'alive,' as the flavor of your experience becomes amplified and you feel more connected.
Mindfulness practices are the cornerstone of this mind-body trait. Paying attention to your immediate experience - first, to sensations and movements within, and later, becoming increasingly aware of environmental and psychoemotional shifts from one moment to the next.
At higher levels of training, sensitivity results in improved physical coordination, heightened environmental awareness, and conscious control over subtle energies of the body through qigong energy work.
In Weightlessness Training we have two primary meditative metrics - slow breathing and reverse counting. They're too involved to delve into here, but each addresses one's capacity along the mind-body axis of the Weightlessness Somatic Coaching Model - an axis that correlates to one's mode of attention - either exclusive and concentrated, or inclusive and aware.
Slow breathing identifies ones capacity for sensitivity, while reverse counting identifies one's capacity for focus or concentration.
The energy signatures of these are antithetical as well. For a Sensate, energy is dispersed, and sensation is largely a bodily affair. For a Cerebral personality, energy is focused, and attention is localized above the neck.
In general, training that fixes and focuses the mind is the highly sensitive person's, or empath's, greatest shield against the risks of their somatic archetype. Practices that fix attention, require embodied pattern recall (like martial arts forms or yoga asanas), that exclude as much non relevant data as possible, and that require willpower to accomplish (at least in the beginning) are perfectly suited.
In Weightlessness Training, reverse counting (starting with a count of 100, and moving up to 1,000 count over many months (with specific parameters for progression)) is the tailored tool for the job.
Tension is the enemy of sensitivity...
One of the most foundational Weightlessness adages tells us exactly how to compensate for the risks inherent in hypersensitivity - generate more tension! In learning to cultivate sensitivity, we know we must learn to release and relax. In learning to allay the risks of sensitivity, we must reverse the process.
Tension is literally resistance - internal or external. It's the somatic equivalent of saying "NO."
While many forms of training both produce tension and can help cultivate grit, Weightlessness prioritizes techniques that provide the greatest leverage within five vectors of force - techniques that provide structural development and balance to one's frame, and that can be loaded to the degree of one's technical ability within a skill.
Coaching Highly Sensitive People
While developing ones sensitivity might see progress from awareness of sensations at low levels of capacity all the way to embodied awareness at high levels of capacity, knowing exactly how to support someone exhibiting high levels or even hypersensitivity without knowing, objectively speaking, just how sensitive they are, is an exercise in futility.
One of my biggest pet peeves in the mind-body domain is the all-knowing intuition of modern mystics, healers, empaths, and energy workers. Without some form of objective diagnostics / assessment, their guidance smacks of delusion and says alot more about them than it does the individuals they're trying to coach/support.
This is why it's critically important one has some understanding of the correlation between mind-body capacity and mind-body personality.
They are inextricably entwined. And when it comes to coaching, this personality trait, above all others, really benefits by objective assessment of performance metrics. The other archetypes can be diagnosed rather easily - you can tell very quickly if someone is strong and/or flexible through external cues, posture, poise, etc. Sensitivity, however... not so simple.
Having a workhorse metric in Weightlessness has been a godsend for working with sensitive types, and/or working with insensitive types. It dispels delusion around one's capacity to control this archetype instantly. The metric we use for this is slow breathing.
I won't go into all the details on the benefits and technicalities of slow breathing here, but one's duration of breath over ten breaths tells me everything I need to know about one's capacity as a Sensate. Once we know a client's capacity for sensitivity (this is not the same as baseline experiential sensitivity, it's just a probability indicator!), coaching that highly sensitive person might take a few paths.
If capacity is low, meaning their 10 breaths cannot extend beyond 5 minutes total, learning to draw more energy above the neck to focus the mind and minimizing training variables is of extraordinary benefit.
Sensates notoriously have weak filters for determining if something is information or if its noise. Placement of attention on fixed things - spatially like somebody's eyes or a fixed object, or conceptually like a model or method - and insisting on sustaining that focal point over time, is a way of embracing cerebral energy. This might even involve turning off or numbing bodily sensation for the sake of growing your organizational skills.
At higher levels of sensitivity, embracing grit becomes ever more necessary. Sensitivity, if unconfined, will leave you exposed to toxic energy, emotional volatility, self doubt, and pain. Grit is the container that elevates sensitivity to a superpower.
We've discussed the training tactics above already, but in terms of coaching someone to 'armor,' implementing sound physical structure and even generating tension in parts of the body can help nullify the sense of overwhelm that accompanies too much 'feeling.'
And at the highest levels of capacity, learning to release all attachments - activating fluidity - in real time, can allay the risk of hypersensitivity. But... this is a very high level skill, and is unlikely to be applicable without extensive mind-body training. The risk of too much information isn't the information itself, its the attachment one forms, conscious or otherwise, and the allocation of relevance/meaning to those attachments, that generate fallout.
An empty, open vessel that has no resistance, agenda, or intent, cannot be hurt. The volumes of sensate data have no place to take route, and flow through you like wind through a tunnel.