maandag 29 maart 2010

Highly Sensitive Personality and Creativity

By guest author Lisa A. Riley, LMFT (Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist)

Throughout my practice, I have encountered a connection between highly sensitive people and their own creative impulses.

This characteristic does not discriminate between painter, actor, or musician—they all appear to have one thing in common: they experience the world differently than the average individual.

Creatives often feel and perceive more intensely, dramatically, and with a wildly vivid color palate to draw from, which can only be described as looking at the world through a much larger lens.
Without a substantial filtration system firmly in place to screen out most of the busy noise, these people tend to receive a far greater amount of stimuli directly into their psyches.
As a result, they frequently become more attuned to subtle details in their environment, to the people they deal with, and especially to their own internal process.

Creatives might find themselves more easily overwhelmed, and often live chaotic lives, affecting not only personal relationships, but also their own productivity.

Over-stimulation can sometimes manifest further into anxiety or depression, bogging down their ability to cope with every day stressors or life’s challenges.

Pearl Buck, an American novelist living in China, and who received a Noble and a Pulitzer, best describes the highly sensitive person by saying,
“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them…a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death.”
According to psychologist Dr. Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, 20% of the population has this innate quality.

I would even take that figure one step further and suggest that a large percentage of highly sensitive people would fall into the category of creative minds.

Although this is something many artists report struggling with, I don’t believe a high sensitivity to the world should necessarily be viewed in a negative light, but rather as a divine gift.
For without this quality, their art, script, music or performance might lack a necessary element capable of touching an audience deeply.
This might then bring up an important question: Do people create in an attempt to process, and survive, a condition that overwhelms them?

Pearl Buck also mentions, “Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create—so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off…They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.”

Along with the process of creating, there is perhaps the opportunity to exorcise out the thing that has accumulated and taken hold internally.

Once externalized, a highly sensitive person can finally make sense of the chaos, opening space toward escaping the overwhelming world they battle every day.

The work I do with clients is primarily focused on mapping out, and gaining, a deeper understanding of how an individual processes the world. Together we develop a plan towards building coping mechanisms required to better maintain a healthy equilibrium.

The key is to embrace this sensitivity with compassion and free from judgment of any kind. By then reframing it as a gift, rather than as an obstacle, people immediately grant themselves permission to be who they are freely and without encumbrances.

Putting together a “survival list,” so to speak, consisting of ways to channel overwhelming sensitivity can often serve as a means to cope.

Serving as something like a first-aid kit for the highly sensitive person, the survival list can consist of your choice of art.
That might include long walks, yoga, spending time quietly alone or with a friend, journal writing, or maybe even meditation.

When the creative person has something to fall back on, this can empower him/ or her in better managing high sensitivity as oppose to feeling debilitated by it.
Rather, they productively move forward and continue to focus their efforts into achieving the healthiest and most balanced life possible.

©2008 Lisa A. Riley. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced or used on other websites without permission.

woensdag 24 maart 2010

5 Gifts of Being Highly Sensitive and 5 Curses: An Interview with Douglas Eby

Douglas Eby.jpg
Article by Therese J. Borchard from her blog Beyond Blue.

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Douglas Eby, M.A./Psychology, who is a writer and researcher on the psychology of creative expression, high ability and personal growth. 

He is creator of the Talent Development Resources series of sites (including at I know many of you are "highly sensitive" and enjoy articles on that topic, so I am excited to pique his highly-sensitive brain today!

Question: If you had to name the top five gifts of being highly sensitive, what would they be?
1. Sensory detail
One of the prominent "virtues" of high sensitivity is the richness of sensory detail that life provides. The subtle shades of texture in clothing, and foods when cooking, the sounds of music or even traffic or people talking, fragrances and colors of nature. All of these may be more intense for highly sensitive people.
Of course, people are not simply "sensitive" or "not sensitive" - like other qualities and traits, it's a matter of degree.
Years ago, I took a color discrimination test to work as a photographic technician, making color prints. The manager said I'd scored better, with more subtle distinctions between hues in the test charts, than anyone he had evaluated.
That kind of response to color makes visual experience rich and exciting, and can help visual artists and designers be even more excellent.

2. Nuances in meaning
The trait of high sensitivity also includes a strong tendency to be aware of nuances in meaning, and to be more cautious about taking action, and to more carefully consider options and possible outcomes.

3. Emotional awareness
We also tend to be more aware of our inner emotional states, which can make for richer and more profound creative work as writers, musicians, actors or other artists.
A greater response to pain, discomfort, and physical experience can mean sensitive people have the potential, at least, to take better care of their health.

4. Creativity
Psychologist Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person, estimates about twenty percent of people are highly sensitive, and seventy percent of those are introverted, which is a trait that can also encourage creativity.
As examples, there are many actors who say they are shy, and director Kathryn Bigelow, who recently won an Academy Award, has said, "I'm kind of very shy by nature." The star of her movie The Hurt Locker, Jeremy Renner (who was reportedly shy as a child) has commented that "in social situations she can be painfully shy."

5. Greater empathy
High sensitivity to other people's emotions can be a powerful asset for teachers, managers, therapists and others.

Question: And, if you had to name five curses, what would they be? And how best do we overcome them or co-exist with them?

1. Easily overwhelmed, overstimulated
The biggest challenge in high sensitivity is probably being vulnerable to sensory or emotional overwhelm. Taking in and processing so much information from both inner and outer worlds can be "too much" at times and result in more pain, fatigue, stress, anxiety and other reactions.
An intriguing neuroscience research study I came across that may explain some of this said people with nervous systems having decreased latent inhibition are more open to incoming stimuli. Which can be a good thing, or not so good.
Actor Amy Brenneman once commented, "I'm too sensitive to watch most of the reality shows. It's so painful for me."
That kind of pain or discomfort can mean we don't choose to experience some things that might actually be fun or enriching. Though I don't mean reality shows.

2. Affected by emotions of others
Another aspect of sensitivity can be reacting to the emotions - and perhaps thoughts - of others. Being in the vicinity of angry people, for example, can be more distressing.
As actor Scarlett Johansson once put it, "Sometimes that awareness is good, and sometimes I wish I wasn't so sensitive."

3. Need lots of space and time to ourselves
We may need to "retreat" and emotionally "refresh" ourselves at times that are not always best for our goals or personal growth. For example, being at a professional development conference, it may not be the most helpful thing to leave a long presentation or workshop in order to recuperate from the emotional intensity of the crowd.

4. Unhealthy perfectionism
There can also be qualities of thinking or analyzing that lead to unhealthy perfectionism, or stressful responses to objects, people or situations that are "too much" or "wrong" for our sensitivities.

5. Living out of sync with our culture
Living in a culture that devalues sensitivity and introversion as much as the U.S. means there are many pressures to be "normal" - meaning extraverted, sociable and outgoing.
Dr. Ted Zeff, author of The Highly Sensitive Person's Survival Guide, points out that other cultures, such as Thailand, have different attitudes, with a strong appreciation of sensitive or introverted people.
Jenna Avery, a "life coach for sensitive souls," counsels people to accept or even pursue being "out of sync" with mainstream society, and be aware of other's judgments of people as too sensitive, too emotional, or too dramatic.
And if we are sensitive, we may use those kinds of judgments against ourselves, and think, as Winona Ryder said she did at one time, "Maybe I'm too sensitive for this world."
Certainly there are extremes of emotions that are considered mood disorders, for example, and should be dealt with as a health challenge.
But "too emotional" or "too sensitive" are usually criticisms based on majority behavior and standards.
Overall, I think being highly sensitive is a trait we can embrace and use to be more creative and aware. But it demands taking care to live strategically, even outside popular values, to avoid overwhelm so we can better nurture our abilities and creative talents.

donderdag 18 maart 2010

27 Tips For Navigating College As a Highly Sensitive Person 

Wonderful article by Andrea Runyan

While college can be an exciting and fruitful experience, it can also be a challenging time for Highly Sensitive People (HSPs).

As the first time when many students are living away from home, college presents many potential challenges for the HSP, such as eating dining hall food; living in a dormitory; having roommates; being around loud parties; and not knowing people at first.

College is a crucial time in life and doing well, both in classes and in general life, can have large ramifications for the rest of one’s life. Yet it can be hard to succeed when overly stressed, distracted, unable to sleep well, or emotionally distraught due to issues related to being a Highly Sensitive Person.
Here are some tips to make the experience easier.

Most important thing to keep in mind:
0) Your needs are valid. You are not at college to spend your time and energy learning to adapt to the lifestyles of others. You are there to do well in school and to grow in relationships, activities, self-knowledge, and other forms of development.
You might find that friends and activities you enjoy will comfortably draw you out of some aspects of your sensitivity. For instance, you might find that you don’t mind putting up with something if it means that you can enjoy something else you find that you like.
However, if any issue related to sensitivity is impairing your school performance or your ability to make the most of college, tell people about it and do something to address it!

1) State clearly and boldly in your roommate application that the main (and perhaps only) thing you care about in a roommate is that their lifestyle will not cause undue problems given your sensitivity.
2) Depending on your needs, you might want to request a roommate who goes to bed early, doesn’t play loud music, is not a party person, etc.
3) If you know who your roommate is before school starts, email him or her in advance to ask about things that might be an issue for you given your sensitivities. In my own case, I needed the lights to be out and for there to be no laptop typing when I was sleeping.
4) If you have the option of being in a dorm with older students, such as graduate students, or living off-campus or in family housing, consider these options. Freshman dorms tend to be noisy. Ask around or look online to see how noisy different living options are and request to live somewhere that is not noisy.
5) Apply for special housing through the Disability Accommodation services. You might need a note from your doctor explaining your sensitivity issues (perhaps citing a diagnosis such as anxiety response, etc.). You might ask to live in a quiet graduate dormitory, family housing, or off-campus in a quiet location.
6) Discuss your HSP traits with your RA or residence dean in advance and ask for their advice about what to do if you encounter problems. My own RA had the idea of setting the hall lights on a darker setting at night to give people the signal to be quiet in the hall at night.
7) Wherever you live, find somewhere safe to go if there is too much noise or stimulation. I used to go into the basement tunnels where the laundry machines were. There might be a quiet park, a library, or some other quiet location near where you live which you can go to if the noise in your room becomes too loud.
8) Buy a fan or a white noise maker to drown out noises you don’t like.

Emotional life:
9) Consider signing up to see a campus psychologist on a regular basis to help with the transition to college. This person might be a helpful advocate or source of information regarding ways to deal with any problems that arise.
10) Find out if there are any help hotlines. Stanford had a 24-hour peer counseling hotline which I used to call when I was having trouble with noise in my dorm. Some schools have drop-in peer counseling.
11) Have a few self-care activities that you do on a regular basis, such as taking baths, taking a long walk outside, watching movies, listening to music, and being in nature.

12) If you know that there will be a party in the place where you live, make arrangements for a back-up location for sleeping, for example with a friend, in case you are unable to sleep in your normal environment.
13) If you want to enjoy a party but can’t take the noise in the main room, try hanging out in the entryway or nearby rooms where other people might be hanging out.
14) Consult HSP literature for ideas about how to enjoy parties.

15) If the noise and crowds at peak mealtimes are too much for you, consider eating slightly earlier or later.
16) Find friends to eat with for moral support and company.
17) If there are many different cafeterias to choose from, find those that meet your needs, such as being quiet, having the food you like and not having smells or music you don’t like, etc.

18) It is imperative to find a location that meets your needs for studying. Determine your needs (the level of quiet, the type of chairs, the lighting, etc.) and make it a point to study in locations that fulfill those criteria. Don’t waste time studying in places that will not be comfortable or conducive to concentration.
19) You might need to look into alternative options besides the usual study places. Think about open classrooms not currently in use, libraries that don’t get much use, other rooms in libraries, etc.
20) Always carry whatever you need to make a borderline study situation more tolerable, such as earplugs, a water bottle, gum, sunglasses, relaxing music on an iPod, etc.

21) You will likely find that your college professors treat you differently from your high school teachers. Recognize that in college, grading might be harsher, professors might be more critical, and the people running your education might not be as concerned about you as an individual. This doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you; it is just a different set-up of education.
22) Seek out mentors, whether professors, academic advisers, resident deans, graduate students, or university staff. Find people with whom you can have a supportive relationship.
23) Even while challenging yourself, try to find at least one thing that you can do well.

24) Find other HSPs. With an estimated 15-20% of the population experiencing some form of heightened sensitivity, there are certain to be other people who share some of your traits and preferences. Seeing that other people feel similarly can help you to see that your needs are valid.
25) Join clubs or activities where you can meet other people with similar interests and where you can see the same people regularly so they will get to know you. When people can see what you are like overall, they will see the real you, in contrast to just seeing you when you are asking them to turn down their music, etc.
26) If your school supports students starting their own clubs, think about starting a Highly Sensitive Person club! Other HSPs might thank you.
Andrea Runyan is a writer based in Boston, Massachusetts.

woensdag 17 maart 2010

HSP Students

HSP students work differently from others. They pick up on the subtle things, learning better this way than when overaroused. 
If an HSP student is not contributing much to a discussion, it does not necessarily mean they do not understand or are too shy. HSPs often process things better in their heads, or they may be over-aroused. This can be the reason for their not contributing. 
HSPs are usually very conscientious but underperform when being watched. This also applies to work situations; HSPs can be great employees—good with details, thoughtful and loyal, but they do tend to work best when conditions are quiet and calm. Because HSPs perform less well when being watched, they may be overlooked for a promotion. 
HSPs tend to socialize less with others, often preferring to process experiences quietly by themselves.

zondag 7 maart 2010

Research by dr Zeff: Highly Sensitive Men

Results of Dr. Zeff’s research about highly sensitive boys based on in depth interviews with thirty highly sensitive men from five countries:
The North American (U.S. and Canada) HSMs (highly sensitive males) who reported that they had supportive parents as boys (indicated by at least one parent always being supportive of their sensitivity) and who played group sports as a boy were “never” or “rarely” teased for being sensitive.
However, the North American HSMs who reported that neither parents were supportive of their sensitivity, and who never played team sports as a boy were “usually,” or “always” teased by other children.

The research indicated that 85 percent of sensitive boys did not participate in team sports and reported that throughout their life they preferred to participate in individual exercise.

In my study I found that the more athletically inclined men had higher self-esteem than those HSMs who did not participate in team sports as a boy. The North American sensitive males in the study who regularly participated in team sports, regardless of their physique, were “never” or “rarely” teased.
The research indicated that 85 percent of HSMs “always” avoided fighting as a boy; with the remaining 15 percent responding that they “usually” avoided fighting. 90 percent of the HSMs did not like watching violence on television or in movies.

There are important cultural variations for HSBs growing up in different countries. The HSMs from India, Thailand and (most from) Denmark stated that they were “never” or “rarely” teased as a boy for their sensitivity regardless of the variables of supportive parents or participation in team sports.

The HSMs from Thailand and India indicated that they “usually” or “always” had many friends growing up, while virtually all of the HSMs who grew up in North America indicated that they had few if any friends. The exceptions were the North American HSBs who participated in team sports.

Regardless of the country where the HSB grew up, 75 percent indicated that they “usually” or “always” thought that there was something wrong with them during their childhood. Even some of the HSMs who reported that their parents supported their sensitivity and had positive peer interactions felt there was something wrong with them.

Over 90 percent of the HSMs felt that during their childhood they didn’t fit in with other boys.

All of the HSMs in my study indicated that throughout their life they “usually” or “always” have been: intuitive, gentle, responsible, a peacemaker and good at counseling people.

My research indicated that 94 percent of the HSMs in my survey are heterosexual, which approximately correlates with the percentage of heterosexual men in society.

donderdag 4 maart 2010

Beyond Pachelbel's Canon, or Music for Highly Sensitive People (HSPs) by Elizabeth Aisling

Music is everywhere. Walk into any store, be put on telephone hold, drive down the street at any time of day or night, and notice what you hear around you. How much of it lifts the spirit? How much of it reaches deep inside to a yearning place – a chamber of the heart where creativity and spirituality reside? As a highly sensitive person and as pianist, guitarist and fretted dulcimer player, I have long been aware of the power of music to heal the spirit. Let me give you an example.

In 1974, while living alone in an apartment in DeKalb, Illinois and biding my time in a boring clerical job at the university library, I spent many of my evenings listening to WFMT, the Chicago classical station. One night, like every other night, I had the radio on and was going about my business, when gradually I became aware of a deep peace and an indescribable sense of joy and well-being that washed over me in waves. There seemed to be a pulse of some sort behind it, a spirit healer from some unknown source, and I found I had to put aside whatever I was doing and sit, mesmerized, before the radio. Piece after piece played - everything from Strauss waltzes to Erik Satie’s Gymnopedies to The Desperate Ones from Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris. And then, suddenly, it was over, and the announcer said, “You have just been listening to a program of music in three-quarter time.”

I have never, ever forgotten this. I have often thought of writing to the station and asking them if they saved a tape of the program. After that experience, I began to pay closer attention to what types of music are calming, or cheering, or exhilarating. I find I have been drawn over the years to music that seems to have the following characteristics:

--triple meter, such as the WFMT program;
--Evocative, stirring melodies;
--Hymns and church organ music;
--Although this would overwhelm some HSPs- exuberant, dramatic music with beautiful melodies and a festive sound;
--Mystical sounds in minor modes;
--Ethereal choral singing and beautiful vocals,especially men and boy choirs;
--Generally, women with low voices and men with resonant voices;
--Melodies that seem to reach deep within and bring forth unconscious memories of childhood;
--Second movements of symphonies and concertos, which seem to be more restful and melodic; (note: I have heard this comment from other HSPs)
--Music played on acoustic stringed instruments; (excluding the banjo)
--Music that resolves, as opposed to stream-of-consciousness music that meanders;
--Music with a drone or an ostinato in the background. I believe this is why Pachelbel’s Canon in D appeals to so many, and why Gregorian chant is so popular;
--Ancient music in unusual modes (scales);
--Any music in the Dorian and Lydian modes. (See Sounding the Inner Landscape by Kay Gardner for a discussion on modes and scales)

Music I find vexatious would include:

--Loud brass instruments, unless it is a clear, pure trumpet solo, accompanied by pipe organ;
--Fast, nervous music;
--Perky Christmas music, such as Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree and the barking dogs singing Jingle Bells in every store and mall beginning before Halloween;
--Chinese restaurant music;
--French horns that sound like nasal, barking dogs;
--rap - the deafening assault of a thumping beat blasting from every other vehicle along an urban street lined with strip malls;
--dissonant jazz, scat singing, chaotic Dixieland bands;
--Tex-Mex music (the type that sounds like Lawrence Welk juxtaposed with Herb Alpert on acid);
--Warmed-over,trite-sounding tunes played cloyingly on an electric piano;
--male singers who can get by with singing off-key (notice how most female singers can’t pull this off and make recordings);
--the shrill sound of a shrieking soprano with too much vibrato;
--squeaking violins;
--the soundtrack to Annie (especially the nasal "the sun'll come out - TEW morrow")
--the newfangled “folk” music sung at churches that sounds less like hymns and more like a combination of show tunes, sentimental Muzak and Irish drinking songs. I attended a funeral once and was subjected to a song that sounded, for the life of me, like a mixture of Dulcinea from Man of La Mancha and Send In the Clowns.

Some types of “gothic” music can overwhelm and overstimulate. I had to walk out of a concert once because the music was loud and frightening. I also have a strong aversion to the soulless, impersonal music played at malls and self-service gas stations –piped in as you shop or pump; sort of an easy-listening and contemporary jazz hybrid with a mechanical, demented drumbeat in the background. When I hear that “music” I feel as if I am being anesthetized, brainwashed into a lockstep trance that has become a soundtrack for our canned culture.

I have put together a list, in no particular order, of music that I turn to, over and over again, for refuge from our chaotic, clanging world.

Classical music:

Cassidy, Patrick - Deirdre of the Sorrows, Famine Remembrance
Cassidy's music is a combination of Irish melodies and Baroque-type polyphony. His works are marketed as new-age, but they are NOT - I file them with my classical music and appreciate them as such.

Faure, Gabriel – Requiem, op. 48 – Sanctus, Pie Jesu Try to find the recording with Victoria de los Angeles.

Mendelssohn, Felix - Songs Without Words, Elijah
Listen to the choral parts of Elijah, and the solo "If with all your hearts you truly seek me."

Chopin, Frederic – Piano Concerto no. 1 in E minor, second movement

Thompson, Randall - Alleluia

Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilych - Symphony no. 1: "Winter Dreams" - second movement

Vaughan Williams, Ralph - Mass in G minor, Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, Five Mystical Songs (especially I Got Me Flowers)

Brahms, Johannes – A German Requiem, op. 45 – “How lovely is thy dwelling place"; The Four Symphonies

Saint-Saens, Camille – Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78, “Organ”; Le Cygne ("The Swan")

Respighi, Ottorino – Ancient Airs and Dances

Gounod, Charles Francois – St. Cecilia Mass – Sanctus

Handel, Georg Frideric – Largo; Solomon – “Music, Spread Thy Voice Around";
Alexander’s Feast, or, the Power of Musik - the most splendid work by Handel, in my opinion - John Dryden's poem set to music with delicious choruses and gorgeous melodies. I listen to this when I am in an exhilarated mood - it is soundtrack for joy. Caveat: Some HSPs find Handel's music overstimulating.

Hovhaness, Alan - Mysterious Mountain

Franck, Cesar – Three Chorales for Organ - try to find the versions by Marie-Claire Alain.

Vivaldi, Antonio – Concerto # 5 in E major – “L’Amoroso” – first movement - This music was played in the Swedish movie Elvira Madigan.

Mozart,Wolfgang Amadeus-Clarinet Concerto in A major; Vesperae Solemnis de Confessore, K. 339 – “Laudate Dominum”

Field, John – Nocturnes

Bingen, Hildegard von –Canticles of Ecstasy

Preisner, Zbigniew – Requiem for my friend/Life - This Polish composer writes mostly film music. This is a new, classical recording. Listen, especially, to Meeting, the first movement of Life.


The Age of Innocence - Melodic score that wraps itself around the heart.

Fairytale, a True Story –by Zbigniew Preisner, who also composed the soundtrack for The Secret Garden. In my mind, the Fairytale score is the most beautiful music ever written for a movie. There is also a CD entitled Preisner's Music which is an import and hard to find, but I was able to order it from Click here:\

Lorenzo’s Oil - not upbeat, but very stirring.

Romeo and Juliet (1968 version by Nino Rota) Back in print on CD!

Interlude (hard to find LP) Soundtrack, composed by Georges Delerue, to the 1960s movie starring Oskar Werner as a conductor who cheated on his wife with a rather twitty young woman - a very dated and somewhat schlocky movie, but BEAUTIFUL music. I found an LP of it through a used-record source. (Delerue also wrote the music for Steel Magnolias;the overture to that movie is lovely.)


Barrett, Ruth and Cyntia Smith Click here: Early Years – double CD of their first two albums Aeolus and Music of the Rolling World. These two women have beautiful, resonant, low voices and sing both original and traditional folk and Celtic-based music, accompanying themselves on fretted dulcimer. Seeing them in concert is a transforming experience. Listen, especially, to Unicorns and Lovers of the Moon.

Brightman, Sarah - Eden, Time to Say Goodbye, The Andrew Lloyd Webber Collection, La Luna-- I can hear all the snobbish elitist music critics now, in chorus, reeling off their usual phrases such as "trite," "dreck," "dross," "pure, unadultrated kitsch," ad nauseum - because Sarah Brightman truly does some things that most singers couldn't get by with. She takes traditional melodies like Women of Ireland and classical pieces such as Albinoni's Adagio and arranges them shamelessly and beautifully, complete with words and - yes - a shimmering electronic wash of sound behind it. And her voice is good enough so she can pull it off. She even does a sweet version of Dust in the Wind on her Eden album. Maybe she is dumbing down the classics, maybe she offends the purists, but I don't care - she has a voice that could melt the stars. Her version of Handel's Lascia Ch'io Pianga makes up for her rendition of My Heart Will Go On in Italian. How to classify Sarah? I don't know. She is a hybrid. Her music grabbed me and I was hooked. Her work is exquisite. I love her.
Douglas, Bill – Deep Peace, Songs of Earth and Sky -- Bill Douglas writes beautiful choral music. Some of his instrumental compositions are pleasant as well, but the choral works are the ones that make my spirit soar. Listen to Willow and My Love is like a Red, Red Rose on Songs of Earth and Sky and The Piper on Deep Peace.

Stockley, Miriam - Miriam-- Brand-new solo release from the lead singer for Adiemus - and what a lush, classy album. She is like a cross between Maire Brennan and Norway's beloved Sissel Kyrkjebo, with a voice that catches like a sob in your throat. I write this upon my first listening to this disc - this woman is a goddess!
Stadler, Gary - Fairy Nightsongs -- First heard in a magical store called Creative Energy on Amelia Island Florida, this is a beautiful disc - the type you hear and say "What is that playing? I have to have it!"
Snow, Shelley – Shamaneya
Shelley Snow has a gorgeous voice and she sings in a language all her own.

Secret Garden - Dawn of a New Century
Exuberant, swirling melodies and vocals - Riverdance-with-a-gentler-edge meets Enya - listen to cuts #10 and #13 with headphones.
Alkaemy - The Merlin Mystery
British composer Julia Taylor-Stanley's ethereal compositions; a companion to the book The Merlin Mystery by Jonathan Gunson.
MacLean, Dougie – Dougie MacLean Collection
McDonald, Steve – Sons of Somerled
I mention these two men together because I discovered them at the same time. They have beautiful voices and their music is melodic and moving. Dougie evokes the sixties troubadour Donovan and his guitar playing is masterful. (Try Singing Land and Caledonia) Steve uses Enya-esque backings to his soaring renditions of traditional Scottish ballads, as well as many of his own. Especially stirring are Scotland the Brave and Loch Lomond.

Gardner, Kay – A Rainbow Path, Ocean Moon
On Rainbow Path Kay takes us on a journey through the chakras of the body with her healing compositions. Ocean Moon is a reissue of the instrumental cuts of her beloved early album Mooncircles, which gave me chills when I first heard it in 1983.

Riley, Philip and Jayne Ellison – The Blessing Tree. There are other recordings by these people but this one shines. It reminds me of a combination of Enya and Loreena McKennitt, There a sensitive, lovely version of Lullay, Lullay, Thou Little Tiny Child at the end, but the album can be listened to year-round. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Lots of acoustic piano and very nice melodies.

Hoppe, Michael – The Yearning – Deep, wistful flute playing evocative of souls who have passed on but reside in our collective unconscious.

Connie Dover – Somebody, Wishing Well, If Ever I Return-
Of all the current female singers in the Irish/Celtic genre, Connie has the clearest voice and the classiest arrangements. I have never heard her make an unmusical sound. Try Ned of the Hill and How Can I Live at the Top of the Mountain from If Ever I Return, Ubi Caritas from Wishing Well and Personnet Hodie from Somebody.

Enya – any recording! Avoid the Taleisin Orchestra’s reworking of her compositions – they are pure kitsch.

McKennitt, Loreena – any recording. The only annoying song this woman has ever sung is The Bonny Swans, in my opinion, and that is only because it goes on and on and on with a whining electric guitar in the background. All her other work is exquisite. Try The Two Trees from The Mask and Mirror.

Coulter, William - Celtic Requiem - the lilting guitar piece at the end is heartbreakingly beautiful.

Madredeus –O Espirito de Paz
Plaintive, entrancing vocals with stunning guitar.

Cifani, Liz – Bella Stella
Liz plays a variety of harps, both double nylon-strung and wire strung, and performs compositions by Turlough O'Carolan as well as some of her own.

Schroeder-Sheker, Therese – The Queen’s Minstrel
Especially haunting is Choose Me.

Stoltzman, Richard – Innervoices
No words to describe this - it must be experienced. On this album is a version of Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus that moved me to tears.

Ni Riain, Noirin, Celtic Soul, Soundings
Again–quiet, ancient, evocative of deep inner consciousness and peace, gentle instrumentation.

St. John, Kate – Indescribable Night
Haunting, driving-alone-late-at-night-under the moon songs. Try Now the Night Comes Stealing In.

Grean, Lorin – HandWoven
Trancelike vocals and harp music, with a delightful piece or two for cat lovers.

Stockwell, Sarah – Dark of Moon
Listen to The Language of Stones. I consider this autumn music, preferably for October.

Price, Kate – The Time Between, Deep Heart’s Core
Hammered dulcimer and vocals, intensely beautiful and other-worldly. Good autumn music also.

Most of these recordings can be found through Click here: or Click here: or any large music store. Check your public library as well.

Over the years I have had the privilege of attending workshops by many fine, sensitive individuals who are not only attuned to the nuances of healing music, but are knowledgeable about the theories behind this. I truly believe that these people and others like them are on a positive, healing path through music and should be mentors to those of us who are HSPs - musicians and non-musicians alike.

--Ron Price, a professor at Northern Illinois University, founded Healing Harps. He works with people who have physical disabilities and has found that playing the harp has the power to relieve many of the symptoms of neurological disorders.

--Jim Kendros: Jim is a classically-trained musician who specializes in the nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed violin)- which he demonstrates during his magical concerts with this unusual folk instrument. Jim has an exuberant presence and an intuitive style, and in addition to performing works of Mozart, Bach and Couperin, he plays Swedish folk tunes interspersed with engaging commentary. Jim has written over eighty works and shares his love of music by teaching, conducting and lecturing in the Chicago area. His sensitive and beautiful compositions are backed by a self-produced CD of his unique blend of harpsichord, pipe organ and ethereal choral accompaniments. To experience an evening with this man is to be transported to a haunting and joyous place. To contact Jim, call 847-319-0017.
--Kay Gardner, whose wonderful book Sounding the Inner Landscape discusses in depth the physics of how music relates to the chakras of the body. She has lectured extensively on the various modes of music and how the series of intervals in a scale can have the power to heal. She gives lectures and demonstrations using her flutes and presenting music history and theory in a down-to-earth, informative style.

--Therese Schroeder-Sheker works with the dying, using music to help them cross over to the next world. Her ethereal recordings of harp and voice are available through Ladyslipper Music.

--Liz Cifani, principal harpist of the Lyric Opera of Chicago, teaches of the healing properties of the overtones of the harp, and as she sits in workshop and we encircle her, all holding harps to our chests, physical proof of the power of music is felt in the depths of the body. She believes that music is an integral part of communication. To hear Liz speak is inspiring and fun; to hear her perform is to be transported to a plane of pure ecstasy.

My list is undoubtedly biased – you will have many works and thoughts to add, I am sure. I encourage all sensitive people to share with others music that provides a haven of transcendence and joy. It is only one of many ways that we can begin to add beauty and symmetry to our jangling culture. I believe that this is an important mission for HSPs; perhaps, for some of us, our life’s calling.