Pura Vida (Costa Rica 1)

“Pura Vida”, says the vendor at the beach with a smile as I leave his stall with a pair of hand painted shoes for my shoe loving—or should I say, shoe crazy—daughter. One of the sneakers I bought for her shows a sloth, the other a toucan.

Costa Ricans, who call themselves Ticos, have adopted the beautiful philosophy of “Pura Vida”. They use this term to say hello, to say goodbye, to say that they are doing well. Pura Vida is the way Ticos live. They don’t stress about things the way most of us around the world do; they are more laid back and content. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that Costa Rica rates as one of the happiest countries in the world. Ticos have a very relaxed, simple way of looking at life. They are conscious of nature, and they make family and friends their primary focus. Pura Vida is being thankful for what you have and not dwelling on lack or any misfortune.

Pura Vida also means that everything has its own time and takes usually longer than expected, especially when it comes to getting from one destination to the next. On our 12 day trip to beautiful Costa Rica, we traveled from the capital San Jose to the volcano area of Arenal, from Arenal to the coast and the National Park in Manuel Antonio, and then back again to San Jose to fly home. All unfolded in Tico time and by going with the flow. We eventually got where we needed to go, even if not as originally planned.

At the end of this trip, I am filled with appreciation, immense gratitude and countless memories. I was travelling with an amazing group of entrepreneurs, each of them brilliant in their own way, and with inspiring and heart-centered Bob Evans and his supportive crew of conscious team members helping us entrepreneurs logistically, technologically and even emotionally. Every one of us gave a 15 minute TED talk-like speech as one of our videos for becoming part of the Personal Development App (PDA).

When everything is complete, each of us 13 entrepreneurs will all also have our own App. I am excited that I can now bring educational and informative content in written, audio and visual form to you via another platform.

I also had the incredible honour of facilitating a workshop for this group of messengers, who each impressed me in so many different ways. The workshop was about working with our protective parts and our inner child, which of course loves the idea of Pura Vida. I was a bit apprehensive about being mic-ed up and video taped while teaching, but it was beautiful to see what came up for each participant, despite being on camera.

The last two weeks held so many experiences for all of us that I have decided to write a Costa Rica blog series. Personally, the trip brought me out of my comfort zone, taught me a lot about myself, filled my heart with joy, and inspired me immensely. A community outreach program was part of this trip, and one of my next blogs will be about visiting the alternative school which we were so fortunate to be invited to.

Different fellow travelers have also inspired me and I cannot wait to write about some of them or share their wisdom. I had never traveled with a group before, and for me this trip became an interesting walk between being part of the group and connecting, while at other times expressing my need for quiet and alone time. That meant staying back from some activities or get-togethers, to be able to keep my inner balance and to recharge.

Upon embarking on this journey, I had different parts inside of me who were quite polarized. On one hand, I have a part which loves travelling and was excited about going to not only a country but a continent I hadn’t been to before. I have a part which likes to experience new things. I might not be as adventurous as other people, but there is a part that certainly has a sense of adventure. I also have a Zen part which can go with the flow and trust that all will be fine. I tell you, that part came in handy when we were navigating the steep and curvy pothole-filled Costa Rican roads with two vans weighed down by luggage and eight people each.

On the other side, I had parts come up before—and during my trip—that were concerned. I have a part that does not appreciate surprises at all, and this trip was filled with surprises. In theory there was a schedule, but it was subject to last-minute changes on a daily basis, when something showed up due to the group dynamics or the weather; it was rainy season after all. And, boy, did this trip require being adaptable.

I also have a part, like many of us, that is somewhat uncomfortable with the Unknown and this trip was new for me in every way. I had different parts inside of me which were a bit concerned. A safety conscious part of me was questioning if it would it be safe to be in Costa Rica. A part of me that is rather private was wondering what it would be like to be followed by cameras every day and every step of the way. All these parts relaxed as the days went on. After a while, I barely noticed the video cameras anymore.

I also have a part, and that was probably one of the loudest “voices” in my inner system, that was concerned about being with others and all the sensory input coming at me on a continuous basis. It knows that as an introvert an HSP,  I need alone time like other people need water or air to breathe.

Sensory overload is an experience most Highly Sensitive People have. Travelling in a van for many hours with six or seven other people, where the radio was playing and two or three conversations were going on at the same time, while the scenery outside also wanted to be taken in, was extremely challenging for me.

I am so grateful to my fellow travelers and to Robert Evans for giving me space and alone time after each of those experiences and fully supporting me in taking care of myself. Their understanding and support allowed me to have a fabulous time and experience a life changing trip in full Pura Vida. I am returning home with a heart filled with joy and a mind filled with fabulous ideas and insights which I look forward to sharing with you over the next few weeks. Pura Vida is a beautiful concept to embrace and bring back with me to our busy life.

 

To download the PDA onto your phone, go to the App store and look for the following logo.

 

If you are wondering if you are an HSP (Highly Sensitive Person) please read my blog post “Are You an HSP?”

If you are curious about finding out more about working with your parts (IFS Inspired Coaching) contact me for a free phone consultation. I offer sessions for individuals and couples.

Angelika

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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Are You an HSP?

I went into a busy mall a few days ago and within three minutes I was reminded why I do not do that—ever. The loud noises, the busy movements, the bright lights, all the sensory in-put from too many people vibrating at different levels of energy, many of them excited and emotional, immediately had me going into “fight or flight mode”.

When I was young I was told on a regular basis and in a reproachful voice, “Sei doch nicht so überempfindlich!” which translates into “Don’t be so hyper-sensitive”. This was usually said with the expectation that I should be able to just flick a switch and turn my sensory perception off. I used to feel something was wrong with me, being “too sensitive”. After all, those comments carried the suggestion with them that I must surely be over-exaggerating or being unnecessarily dramatic about people’s energy or my surroundings.

HSP crowd

Today, I know that around 15-20% of the population are HSPs, or Highly Sensitive People. “What seems ordinary to others, like loud music or crowds, can be highly stimulating and thus stressful for HSPs. Most people ignore sirens, glaring lights, strange odors, clutter and chaos. HSPs are disturbed by them. Most people’s feet may be tired at the end of a day in a mall or museum, but they’re ready for more when you suggest an evening party. HSPs need solitude after such a day. They feel jangled, overaroused. Most people walk into a room and perhaps notice the furniture, the people—that’s about it. HSPs can be instantly aware, whether they wish to be or not, of the mood, the friendship and enmities, the freshness or staleness of the air, the personality of the one who arranged the flowers.” (Elaine N. Aron, The Highly Sensitive Person)

When I end up in the theatre next to somebody who noticeably wears a perfume, my daughters will automatically volunteer to switch seats with me, knowing that strong smells completely overwhelm me. At other times, they will lovingly make fun of me because I am always the first one who goes, “What is that smell?”, when nobody else can detect it, yet. I am also the loving family joke because I make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows. My family remembers the times when I had to leave the movie theatre for a while during a scene which for most people would qualify as a “regular amount of violence”. The movies are particularly challenging because they come at me with well placed sounds, the intense emotions of the characters and light effects. That usually is too much stimulation for my nervous system.

Some people like parties and loud music. It gives them energy. Loud music and a lot of other noises literally make me feel like I am being attacked. A social gathering of two hours stretches like an eternity for me. The other day we were at a busy restaurant for three hours with wonderful friends of ours. We had a lot of fun, talking and laughing. I enjoyed myself immensely. Yet, in order to tune into only their words and energy I had to tune out everything around me which requires a lot of concentration. After such a gathering, I feel completely drained and desperately need to have quiet around me, preferably even be completely alone for a while.

“Our trait of sensitivity means we will also be cautious, inward, needing extra time alone. Because people without that trait (the majority) do not understand that, they see us as timid, shy, weak, or that greatest sin of all, unsociable. Fearing these labels, we try to be like others. But that leads to our becoming overaroused and distressed.” (Elaine N. Aron)

HSP Tia

Up to the age of 14, I had been attending a small school in Africa. When I returned with my parents to Germany, I was put into a big high school with approximately 800 students. Being in that school everyday completely overwhelmed me. It was like going into a battle field every day, sorting out all the different stimulations and emotions of everybody. The suppressed unhappiness, hostility, anger or aggression of many students and teachers were hard to take. My dad was sure I would get used to the big school. After all, what was the big deal? My mom knew better. When the first opportunity arose for me to switch schools and attend a high school further away with only 300 students and a very different, more personal and supportive atmosphere, she advocated for the change. She didn’t know about HSPs. But she had enough empathy to understand that I would need a more predictable and manageable size of an environment to do well. And she was right.

Elaine N. Aron uses the acronym “DOES” to describe what a Highly Sensitive Person is like. D stands for “Depth of Processing”. HSPs often have a strong (yet not infallible) intuition. When an HSP is asked to make a decision consciously they are often slower than others because they think over all option carefully. O is for “Overstimulation”. If a “situation is complicated (many things to remember), intense (noisy, cluttered etc.), or goes on too long (a two-hour commute)” overstimulation is experienced. E is for giving emphasis to our Emotional reactions and having strong “Empathy” with others. S is for being “Sensitive” to all the subtleties around us, for example the non-verbal clues or sometimes even having what is described as a “sixth sense”.

D O E S

In my field, there is an unusual high number of HSPs. At a meeting of practitioners earlier this year, we were going around the room to share how we all got to be in the alternative field. There were four women sitting right next to each other who all described a very similar story. As children they were all told that they were “too sensitive” and that their intuitive perceptions where not valid. For a while most of them suppressed their sensitivity and strong intuition trying to be like everybody else. Each of them, however, realized at one point that being different has it’s challenges but also is a precious gift. The gift is to be able to tune into other people and to feel them and what is really going on with them energetically. Some of us see energy, others can feel other people’s pain and emotions in their own bodies, some just know things and are intuitively guided while they facilitate a session.

If you suspect you are an HSP, remember that you are not crazy or flawed. Being outgoing, tough, stoic and always searching for entertainment, is only the ideal in our culture. “In China ‘shy’ and ‘sensitive’ children were among those most chosen by others to be friends or playmates. (In Mandarin, the word for shy or quiet means good or well-behaved; sensitive can be translated as ‘having understanding,’ a term of praise.) In Canada, shy and sensitive children were among the least chosen.” (Elaine N. Aron) However, not all HSPs are introverts. According to Aron’s research about 30% of all HSPs are in fact extroverts.

Not all HSPs are the same. Some HSPs are affected more by other people’s moods, others more by sensory in-put, some are easily moved by emotions, arts or music, others are easily rattled by having a lot to do in a short amount of time and feel annoyed when people try to get them to do too many things at once. Some HSPs cry easily, when they are happy or when they are sad, others really struggle with making a conscious choice or decision. Most HSPs crave deep relationships, and feel unhappy without meaningful interactions. Not all characteristics apply to all HSPs in the same way.

Whether just a few or many characteristics of the HSP definition applies to you, you can learn to accept yourself the way you are and thrive in the world. You can learn to protect your energy when you are around others. You can train yourself to be more outgoing and social, as long as you meet your need for quiet time to recharge. You can change your limiting beliefs around your abilities and embrace them as a gift. You can learn to express what it’s like to experience the world in the way you do and take care of yourself.

Contact Angelika for Life Coaching

905-286-9466

greendoorrelaxation@yahoo.ca

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