Do highly sensitive people benefit from Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction practices? Yes, we do! In a Dutch study from 2010, 47 HSPs were recruited to participate in an 8 week MBSR program to determine if there would be an effect apart from those without the trait and to investigate whether any longer lasting effects continued at least 4 weeks after the initial test period. The results? Highly sensitive people did benefit more from MBSR techniques than did those without the trait and it seemed to endure after the 8 week period. This seems to follow our propensity for benefiting more from any source of positive stimulation than others due to our deeper processing of all experiences.
It is well-known that HSPs may fare much worse than others in negatively stimulating environments, or better in positively stimulating ones. We know that HSPs who experienced abusive, neglectful, or traumatic childhoods experience more anxiety, depression, and emotional disorders of all types throughout life, unless they are able to sincerely address healing. We also know that HSPs from supportive, nurturing, and loving environments do much better on all measures than the previously mentioned group. When one comes from a loving, supportive background there is confidence in taking risks, in exploring the world, and in developing one’s talents and abilities because there is less anxiety about failure or self-doubt.
Similarly with MBSR techniques, when HSPs actually are able to focus on self-care the results can be quite positive and especially rewarding for the sensitive person. Who doesn’t like to feel good about taking of themselves?
The study points out that it isn’t clear which aspect of the program the participants underwent that contributed to the effects but it is likely that it was simply the overall positive nature of the program that had the largest effect. What can we learn from this?
Highly sensitive people need to practice self-care as an essential part of our daily lives. Self-care needs to be viewed as being similar to a spiritual practice with time set aside for this vital recharging and balancing time. True, in our hectic, rushed, and overscheduled world there is little time for sleep, let alone meaningful self-care but the results of such practices are of clear benefit to HSPs.
Mindfulness has become a buzz word that is becoming viewed as a passing fad but if practicing mindfulness based stress reduction techniques reduces your stress, anxiety, depression, and allows you to function better let them call it a fad or whatever they like. We will just go on practicing what we know works long after the naysayers have moved on to the next topic they wish to deride.
There is even a free online 8-week course in MBSR that you can begin practicing right now, at your own pace. If you’d like to learn more check out their website (totally free):
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