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By Robert Reiher, PhD. and J.D. Whitney

As an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) in a world where everything has changed since your childhood, it is imperative to find a daily practice beyond yoga that is individual to you and helps you flourish, like a rare orchid, rather than wilting into overwhelm. As part of their upcoming book, The Inner Theatre: Recreating Your Full Potential in an Overwhelming World,  Dr. Robert Reiher, PhD and J.D. Whitney point out new research that can help HSPs lead fulfilling lives while at the same time avoiding “traps” of overwhelm caused by the historical shifts of our modern world.  Those shifts include an accelerated rate of change in every area around us, time compression (multi-tasking; a “do more” expectation), and technology that demands our attention 24/7. Citing research by Dr. Elaine Fox at the University of Essex that indicates that certain people posses a gene variant promoting a “biological sensitivity to context,” Reiher and Whitney state that this subset of HSPs fit this “Orchid and Dandelion” model. “Orchids,” are biologically highly sensitive to their environments (Ellis and Boyce), therefore more often emotionally drained in a world that has become dependent on meaningless escapism, and relationships developed primarily within a digital world.

Dandelions, say the research model’s creators, are people who are less impacted by adverse stress.

The great news is this that Orchids can learn to survive and flourish when everything has changed around them—often excelling in life far beyond the Dandelions.  It turns out that the same gene that puts them at risk for depression or anxiety from toxic influences, also allows them to benefit at a greater rate from positive ones. “You are not going to reverse the rate of change of our society right now,” says Dr. Reiher, “but you can develop a powerful internal tool that you can use daily to nurture your individual gifts and perspectives.” That technique, developed by Reiher, is the P.A.U.S.E. Process, a new method that starts with slow breathing and uses an internal metaphor of the Inner Theater to help an HSP—or anyone—shift from being “triggered” by the outside world, to nurturing one’s individual purpose and gifts. Learning the P.A.U.S.E. Process, states Reiher, can shift those with Orchids who feel overwhelmed into excelling far beyond the even-emotioned Dandelions. It turns out that the flip side of being an HSP may be our potential to blossom beyond our imagination.