Cultivate Sensitivity in a World of Ignorance
Have you ever asked yourself what does sensitivity mean?
If you haven’t, it is a good thing to ponder. For the world we live in is in abundance of ignorance and in scarcity of sensitivity – the ability to detect and respond to changes, and to show delicate appreciation of others’ feelings. That’s why it is in so much troubles. Everyone is against someone, and every nations attacks some others. Changing the world – as omniscient it seems – is possible. If each of us can show sensitive behaviors within our 1 squared meter, this will soon be a much better world to live.
But we were taught to behave sensitively, weren’t we? In high school, I studied a subject called “Citizens’ Behaviors”, of which purpose was – I assume, because nobody told me – creating “good citizens”. Nice, but the delivery was disastrous. Thick text book with rules of how to behave. Tedious examinations that we passed either by parroting or by cheating – and why learn? this was anyway considered extra subject. Now looking back, I’m tickled by the nonsense of my education. I bet you are too.
Whenever we are tickled by the stupidity of this world. We should ask ourselves “So what went wrong?”. Not in order to grieve, but in order to understand. Don’t be mad; but be curious.
I’m convinced that the current heartlessness of this world results from the way sensitivity was taught. We were told to be sensitive with others, but nobody teaches us to be sensitive with ourselves.
Sensitivity, much like happiness, flows from inward. As long as we remain insensitive to what goes on within us, we are unsusceptible of what goes on in others, and in consequence, make them suffer out of ignorance. It is like cook with a lousy palate, unable to understand his own tongue, let alone to impress his customers.
If you want to cultivate self-sensitivity – let’s simply put it that way – you need to pay attention. Attention to what?
To the senses.
Like a skill, we become more sensitive when we practice using our senses. As simple as it sounds, this is a challenge in modern society where our senses are constantly bombarded by distractions. Everything and everyone wants our attention. Noises are magnified 100 times by our technological gadgets. And when we’re finally left alone for few minutes – maybe only during commute – we are lost in thoughts about our past and future. Our mind is so full it can’t take in anything.
The renowned educator and philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti defined sensitivity as “to be in communion with everything, to be sensitive both to the ugly and the beautiful. To understand what beauty is, to have that sense of goodness which comes when the mind and heart are in communion with something lovely without any hindrance so that one feels completely at ease.”
Communion is the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings, especially when the exchange is on a mental or spiritual level. Therefore, our ignorance is twofold: false definition of beauty, and disability of be in communion with life.
We marvel at the superficial, skin-and-bones “beauty” of supermodels, but fail to see the starry eyes of a child – the beauty of innocence, or the countryside woman with a heavy load on her shoulders – the beauty of devotion, or the wrinkles at the corners of our grandfather’s eyes – the beauty of time and wisdom.
We can’t hear the breeze brushing through a wind chimes because of the incessant sounds from our television.
We miss the delicate sweetness from the grains of rice in our mouth because we were checking our phones during dinner.
We don’t smell the lavender fragrance on our freshly washed laundry because we are too important for something as mundane as drying clothes.
We never touch the trunk of an oak standing naked in winter and feel on our fingers the life force pulsing beneath its dark, dry, freckled bark. Because we are too busy to be with nature.
And we are certainly deft of intuition because we’re afraid of spending time with ourselves.
This is not living. Look at children and you will see how amazingly sensitive they are. Why do we we grow up just to forget how to live? And life is too short not to begin.
When I observed myself being unease, impatient, lost in thoughts, or carried away by distractions; I began to direct my attention to one of my senses. For me, choosing one helps intensify the focus. I looked, or listened, or smelled, or touched, or tasted, or felt, with tenderness, slowness, and depth. I became mindful of my breath. Until the breath and the sense brought me back to life. And I went on living each moment, with overflown sensitivity. Gently, I touched the lives of others.
What about you?
Are you growing sensitivity by the simple act of using your senses?
Couple this read with other article on Stillness Tuesday.
And come back next Tuesday for more wisdom on the art of moving into stillness. Or simply just to breathe a little : )