“I have just three things to teach. Simplicity, Patience, Compassion. These 3 ARE your Greatest treasures.” — LAO TZU
Helping a HS child balance his or her health needs is a long-term process. It takes time, patience and a lot of empathy for every member of the family. In our cases, it also means going through phases of set backs and having the courage to keep on going and focus on small incremental steps in areas we can work on. Part of the difficulty is that unless they have developed the language and enough sensory self-awareness, children cannot tell you what is triggering them. To help my children, I had to learn to be a health detective and investigate various invisible and often subtle triggers.
I came to realize that the key is to find a balance between different health quadrants, I focused on the three following dimensions as starting point: “outer” self/Environmental health, “inner” self/bodily health and Sensory health. In reality these are intertwined and influence each other. Therefore working on any of these will affect the other areas of health.
The goal is not to come up with a regiment of activities that must be performed in order to gain grounds towards a perfect self but to un-clutter life from unnecessary mental, sensory and emotional stress, situations and routines. Using this subtle process serves to gently reduce the burden on the body, mind and senses, which then can function with more ease and better process trauma and other toxins.
I have learned to think of long-term consequences not short-term gain. A priority became to emotionally ground my children and myself. This was my first step towards thinking of quality of life in different terms and there began with my own personal growth. I now understand healing to be a life long practice, not an outcome. For my family, learning to thrive has meant re-learning how to live and for me to slow down. I now try to live my life using these three principles:
Simplicity: my child is who he is.
Patience: my child learns at his own pace and will get there when, or if ever, ready.
Compassion: My child needs me to hear and respect his voice.
I learned to put my kid’s needs first. Without this commitment, both would have been much more negatively affected by their gifts. It has meant learning to take care of myself and of my own well-being. My kids get their emotional cues from me. I have become very aware that they learn from what I am and do, not from my words. If I want my children to be healthy, I need to show them how to be healthy. They are witnessing the changes in me and learning by listening and watching me. I hope this will help them in adulthood know how to be resilient and to problem-solve their life and develop healthy habits.
I had to learn to develop a balanced life that suits me and my family; to go with the flow, to de-cluter my life, one thing at a time, slowly letting go of unnecessary stressors for good. Change is often hard to sustain. But I have noticed that when I make changes slowly, they last. While when I incorporate too many changes or to fast, the shift is too hard to sustain in the long-term.
There are many ways to help children with sensory imbalances. Not only each family is a unique social ecosystem, each child also has unique needs. As such, dealing with sensory life is different for every family. While I cannot tell you what will work for your family, I can share with you the process I went through while helping my children. Thinking of health for my highly sensitive children required thinking of the dimensions of the spiral of health we saw in chapter 4. I focused on trying to understand what is being communicated to my child via space, the senses, emotions, and hidden social rules. While all these dimensions are intertwined in a constant exchange of flux, we can enter a cycle of healing from any point in any dimensions.
As an occupational therapist explained to me, one of the key aspects of helping children grow is to help them know and accept who they are, and learn how to self regulate. The goal is to live a nourishing life. Understanding that nourishing isn’t limited to food. We can nourish ourselves in many different ways, via our senses, our use of time, technology and space, as well as our connection to nature (animals, plants) and our social worlds.
Beginning to consider the health and imbalances of my HSC has meant rethinking life from a sensory perspective. When my children showed symptoms of imbalanced, either behavioural or physical, I became a sensory detective, trying to understand which invisible toxin was affecting them. Having a child hypersensitive to food, chemicals, and other toxins, who also could not tolerate medication, forced me to rethink how to approach life and health.
I started to understand that modern medicine didn’t work because it offers a one solution to all approach to health often focused on using medication to reduce symptoms instead of finding a way to reduce the distress causing the symptoms. The youngest in medicinal traditions, this approach is the least considerate of the senses. Interestingly, most ancient medical traditions incorporated the senses in their healing modalities. I noticed that most traditional medical system have one thing in common, the idea that there is a type of vital life energy in us. This life energy is central to herbalism and alchemy in the west, traditional Chinese medicine, Indian Ayurveda, and the Tibet medical systems in the East, to name a few. This life energy is central to animist culture as well which considers that all entities, plants, animals, minerals all share this life energy. For all these systems, we are healthy when that energy is balanced within our body.
This insight was key for me to become aware of what spatial well-being could mean. If indeed, everything has specific life energy, everything then has an energy signature. Some of these signatures are natural and others are man-made. What if part of the issue is that our spaces are saturated with man made signature that pollute our senses?
During my sabbatical, this idea began to solidify. My eldest son began to feel much more at ease in his body and emotions when by the sea. He explained to me how he could for the first time differentiate between the boundaries of his bodies and the rest of the world. What if nature provides a sensory massage, which serves to calibrate and balance the senses? I began to understand that my HSC need a balanced energy environment, which contains enough natural vital signatures to balance their sensory system.
Today, I consider that our modern ways of life have created dead sensory zones. Similarly to what is happening to our oceans, we have introduced so much sensory pollution in our spaces that some zones are empty of any healthy sensory spatial signals. These dead spaces exist primordially in cities, and often in our homes.
To create healthier sensory spatial zones, I started by analyzing my children’s environment for the quality of its vital energy and to try to balance natural and unnatural vital signatures. I built sensory friendlier spaces for my children.
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