As research shows, almost every third person has above average sensitivity. This is where companies can benefit. We know, for example, that genetics has a big impact on just how sensitive people are. It is now time to find leadership models that integrate brain research.
A neurological study has shown that highly sensitive people have an increased activity of mirror neurons and are therefore more empathetic. Insights such as these must be incorporated into the business context of leadership and organisational culture. We assume that companies benefit if the workforce consists of different sensitivity groups, because each has advantages and disadvantages. This means, for example, that highly sensitive people behave more pro-socially and have a heightened sense of urgency. These people will keep the system safe and secure and their involvement will generate an inspirational and nourishing work environment, replete with flourishing creativity, imagination and innovation.
However, sensitive people also suffer from negative tensions. For example, they often come up with more creative and problem-oriented solutions because they think about things longer and run through more associations. Their urgency is to cooperate, and that involves inclusiveness. As today's world of work is often problematic for the highly sensitive, it is now essential that decision makers in corporate companies understand that open-plan offices, for example, condition ‘internal-cooperation’ as it is normally suppressed.
Highly sensitive employees are usually less well-understood than others with normal sensitivity. Because of a myriad of influences, they are more distracted and more susceptible to burn-out. Many highly sensitive people are self-employed and thereby manage their ideal work environment themselves. Clearly the onus is not just on an employer to ensure the best possible environment; even highly sensitive people should make a contribution to best suit themselves.
In other words, it is not just the employer's duty to ensure that the environment is as optimal as possible. Highly sensitive people must also contemplate their inner balance, and adjust accordingly for better work integration.
Hyper-sensitive people are not always able to cope with stress: all kinds of negative synonyms occur spontaneously with the keyword ‘highly sensitive’. But it can also be interpreted positively: as subtle, sensitive, intuitive or emphatic. But right now, high sensitivity is regarded as the hype of the suffering of modern man; this is not exactly conducive to a positive image. Highly sensitive people are often put into the esoteric drawer, along with media and telepaths. Esotericism has nothing to do with high sensitivity, however. Highly sensitive people perceive everything as if through an amplifier: noises, smells and even weather influences.
That is why it is essential to build a bridge into all social systems to embed an ‘oasis of stillness’ that allows people to feel safe and secure and to comprehend and accept. Contemplation and meditation are the two methods ideal for this ‘bridge-making’.
Prior to understanding meditation, it is imperative to delve into the concept of ‘seeking’. Why, for example, should we mediate at all? What is the use of daily mediation? Where does it get us? And perhaps even most importantly, why are we even ‘seeking’ something? Those who are religiously and spiritually-minded, as well as numerous scientists, have globalised the mantra of ‘constantly seeking’. When we seek, we already know what we are after – perhaps a perfect life, a happy relationship, a successful career. This implies that we have a pattern, an image, an expectation or simply an idea in our mind that direct us to what we are after. To find it after seeking it, we must already know its contours, its shape, its content, its volume or its substance and capacity.
In ‘seeking’, we have lost something and we are determined to find it and when we find it we shall recognise it immediately! This suggests that we already know it and expect what will be. That is why in today’s world we are so terribly convinced that we need to look after, and search out, because our wish is predetermined, so we often seek in despair and hope that things will turn out for the better, until we (hopefully!) find this ‘pot of gold’.
Actually, the first thing is not to seek at all. To stop seeking.
In meditation, every search, regardless of the form it takes, must come to an end. And this, then, is the foundation for cultivating stillness. This foundation of order is righteousness. Because our thought and our mind are limited, we will never fully understand. That is why morality such as order, virtue and values stem from clear comprehension. That is why disorder and inward instability and outward chaos come from lack of deep comprehension, a lack of foundation, which then results in conflict, anger, violence and separation.
To cultivate order, we must understand order that is practiced without effort and without suppression, because stressful effort distorts, but order through stillness and contemplation is peaceful. We rarely spend time watching our thoughts: listening to our feelings, emotions and impulses; observing our attitudes and our aptitudes with detachment; suspending judgement, comparison and expectation. That is why ‘control’ implies suppression, rejection and exclusion as well as division and separation between oneself, who is being controlled, and who or what is doing the controlling. The result? Inner conflict.
Once we all understand this, control and choice must be eradicated. This may sound terribly simply, as if it is not even worth doing, but if we watch ourselves internally and see how we react to what we are doing – not being in a hurry; knowing what is; seeing how to constantly improve – we will see with clarity that the real world is not material or spiritual: it is what we feel day-by-day. This means simply observing inwardly, without any choice, any expectations, or comparison, eliminating ambition and control or any other impulses. Simply watching what happens.
We have been polarised with mindfulness and meditation, with people in Western societies believing that we will become more resilient and more balanced – but with the intention to shine and receive higher recognition and special accolades we didn’t have in the first place. Not surprisingly, we are experiencing today increasing numbers of people in these countries swarming to join yoga and meditation classes, with the intent of appearing to others as if they have everything under control. Kids at school meditate in order to dominate and excel so that they can outperform others. Therapists and psychologists prescribe meditation for patients to reduce their stress level and improve sleep, or simply to achieve something or gain a result others don’t have, whether this be so-called ‘enlightenment’ or supposed peace of mind.
More and more self-proclaimed teachers, yoga and meditation ‘masters’ re-invent what was originally cultivated 11,000 years ago, luring many to follow their modernised model of superficial ‘wa-wa-woo’ yoga and meditation classes, so that we feel content for a short period of time, and then keep excelling and stretching to over-perform, granting this to ourselves by any means possible – even with unethical, improper and dishonourable behaviour.
Considering all this, we must question why so many people in the West have jumped on this mediation trend, while overall social consciousness is simultaneously declining. That is why it is good, necessary even, to approach this with scepticism and discernment. The truth is that most accept the authority of those who are so incredibly convinced themselves that they are the only ones who know how to meditate. And they are vocal in telling the masses this, in proclaiming their personal authority. The real question doesn’t concern how to mediate. It’s about exploring and discovering what meditation is. But we fall easily into the trap of how to meditate and soon adhere to a system, a pattern, and hence a structured expectation. Because the how implies the very beginning: what the centre movement of meditation is, the complex core of why to mediate. So we need to investigate inwardly, alone, not following any guru or teacher or master. But by ourselves delving into the right questions, allowing the right answer to unfold, without accepting any authority dictating how to mediate or how to examine spiritual matters. Period.
Meditation is not something we do, it is a movement into the entire question of living – how we live; how we understand; how we behave; how we feel; and how we express ourselves – whether we have fears or anxieties, sorrows, joys, pleasures or contentment. It concerns how we cope and deal with these in our lives so that we can wrench free from expectation, ambition, striving and comparison, inwardly and outwardly.
Only then we can proceed with what meditation really is. That is why we must put order in ourselves, complete order. Once that order is established, not by a pattern but through our own consciousness, clarity, compassion and courage, we will gain comprehension about disorder: contradiction, confusion, irritation, deceit or hypocrisy. We will acknowledge why we allow constant distraction within ourselves. If we do not reach that level, meditation simply becomes a repetitive meaningless exercise, a means to seek something such as reputation, position, image, money, attention, recognition or money.
Moreover, we need to understand the value of our senses, because we primarily react in a programmed way, according to their urges, their demands and their expectations. But our senses never act as a whole, only as a part. This means they never function or move as one entity holistically. If we observe ourselves carefully, watching what happens, we see that one or the other of our senses dominates. That is why we are unbalanced in our senses and we must ask ourselves if it is possible to operate as a whole so that we can observe awakened. This becomes the moment when we discover that there is actually no centre from where all these senses are moving: there is no limitation. Hence it is our understanding of the senses that determines the depth of our meditation, finding the right place: not to suppress or control or escape from them. Senses provide direction, creating differing forms of neurosis and illusions, dominating our emotions and irritating us about what reality is. When our senses are fully awakened and flourishing, our body experiences an incredible calmness.
Meditation is not about forcing ourselves to sit still without thinking. It’s about our senses being at ease, feeling relaxed and calm inwardly. What is the place of time in relation to meditation and what is the place of control in meditation? In meditation we are comforted enough to ask ourselves whether we can leave without any form of control, because when there is control, there is action of will. And what is behind our will? Perhaps our will is the essence of desire, because from the will stem the deepest movements for desire. Isn’t desire comprised of sensation, appetite, ambition, greed and inclination? Can we give up the action of desire, or is it fair to say that most live a life of restraint, escape and suppression?
Today we are so desperately in need of a model that helps people find and retain balance deep within them. We want to improve people’s resilience. We want to cultivate more fruitful and comprehensive communication. Meditation and mindfulness are two ways to do this.