The Tao of Sensitivity, 10 Principles for HSPs to Live By
I have been attracted lately to the Chinese philosophy of Taoism. Attributed to Lao Tzu, the Tao Te Jing, or the book of The Way, is a wise book that instructs its readers on how to live life in harmony and balance. It is a small book filled with paradoxes, carefully crafted wisdom, and cryptic metaphors. Still, the passages make sense at a very deep and spiritual level with careful consideration and thought.
As an HSP, the teachings resonate with me, and I have been applying some of the key elements into my life. It is indeed a practice. Like Buddhism, Taoism is a philosophy of life more than a religion without deity or dogma. The Tao represents all that is, yet it is not a thing, more like a pervasive, all-encompassing energy, incomprehensible and mystical. Yet, Lao Tzu encourages us to keep an open mind, allow the Tao to flow through us, and let go of egoistic control.
I believe there is value for highly sensitive people to connect to the spiritual side of life. I have noted below ten basic tenets of Taoism from the Tao Te Jing, which with practice can become a part of a philosophy to live by. There is no need to abandon your current religious or spiritual practice as the Tao is versatile either as a philosophy or a spiritual practice.
I have borrowed much from an online post by Kyle Kowalski at Sloww.co . Props to him for compiling this list. Here are the ten principles from Taoism to bring to your life.
Ø Tenet #1 — The Tao is the infinite, common source, eternally present within you. No beginning, no end. The essence of wisdom, just be.
Understanding the source of all that is, is an overwhelming feat. Life too often overwhelms us with its myriad challenges and obstacles. Learning to be connected with the Tao is a life lesson that enables one to “just be.” In a world of doers, letting go to “just be” is a remarkable acknowledgment that you don’t have all the answers on your own. The wisdom you seek is within the Tao.
Ø Tenet #2 — Balance and reside at the center of the circle within the Tao for peace in your heart, natural rhythms, and universal harmony.
This tenet is about the importance of balance and harmony. In the midst of balance, there is centeredness. Not fighting the natural rhythms of life is the key to balance.
Ø Tenet #3 — Don’t live life; let life live you. You will truly be yourself and perfectly fulfilled. This leaves nothing to fear, not even death.
Letting the Tao flow through you will allow you to be your true authentic self. Letting go of the ego will allow for the flow of Tao. The expression of the Tao through you will bring you your highest purpose. Releasing the fear of death will allow you to live life without fear. (Which I believe is the root of fear). There is true empowerment in self-knowledge.
Ø Tenet #4 — Embrace solitude and trust your inner vision to see your oneness with the whole universe. Go deep internally instead of living on the surface externally.
This principle is ideal for many HSPs, who love solitude and internally deep diving in contemplation. Trust your intuition; your truth lies there. The journey is the destination.
Ø Tenet #5 — Remove all expectations and stop seeking to realize the mysteries of life and be at peace in the present.
Expectations can train wreck your life. It’s a control thing. Stay in the present to tame desire and be at peace. Peace is the highest value. For HSPs, peace is that calming state between excitability and rest.
Ø Tenet #6 — The Tao isn’t something you can know through your intelligence. Not knowing is true knowledge; know that you don’t know. Step back from your mind to understand. Stop thinking and end your problems.
Overthinking robs you of wisdom. Opening your mind opens the space for you not to know. The more you know, the less your understanding. Understanding comes from a different place; seek that.
Ø Tenet #7 — Through non-action and not doing, you will do everything that needs to be done because the Tao will act through you. Practice not-doing, and everything will fall into place.
This tenet is about the practice of Wu Wei. Acting by not acting. Work without effort, acting without doing. This is a difficult concept for our Western ways of thinking. I think more than anything else; this is about always controlling one’s life. Trying to control one’s life is like a dog chasing his tail. The intent may be noble, but the action is worthless. Dwelling on this, not obsessing about it, has brought me some insight into this concept at a pre-verbal level. Sorry, you’ll need to figure this one out on your own.
Ø Tenet #8 — Let things come and go. Have without possessing, act without expecting. Then, problems will be no problem for you.
Letting go and releasing is difficult for those who always want to control outcomes. Let your actions go, release them from you, where they can fly towards purpose. Most of our problems are self-created because of a lack of understanding of this principle. You can have without owning something or someone. Blocking flow by possessing is self-defeating.
Ø Tenet #9 — When you realize you have enough, you are rich. When nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you. Simplicity returns you to the source.
Your travels are light when your pack is light. Having enough is indeed enough. You can have all you need when you let go of all you have. I had to do this a few years ago. There was a small voice within me repeating this phrase. I am still learning this on my journey. Simplicity, patience, and compassion are the three treasures.
Ø Tenet #10 — The paradox is the Way. When the Tao is forgotten, humanity goes off course. The world is sacred as-is and can’t be improved. We only need to trust in the Tao.
The truth is paradoxical. Soft overcomes hard, quiet overcomes loud, slow overcomes fast. What appears to be true is often false. Forgetting the Way is the beginning of being lost. Trust is the key; paradox is the lock.
The Taoist philosophy can be practiced without relinquishing your existing spiritual beliefs. On the surface, the writings appear to be obtuse and paradoxical, mysterious, and yet accessible for those who allow the flow to occur. For HSPs, self-reflection, solitude, peace and harmony, and the idea of “being” not “doing” seem natural for our personalities. The key to following the Tao is not to overthink the readings, let go of control, and learn to be in the flow. Like flow, it’s hard to describe, but once started on that path, it becomes easier and easier to grasp. In my view, it’s a perfect practice for our highly sensing, thoughtful, and spiritual natures.
Please comment with your thoughts.