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Who is the Sensitive Musician?

I am, and you probably are! Musicians and other people with spiritual and creative vocations tend to experience emotions, thoughts, and sensations with greater intensity and complexity, and are often highly sensitive -- also known as having sensory processing sensitivity. This can enable us to bring extremely beautiful, nuanced works of art, systems of thought, and practical ministries into the world. It can also enrich and impassion our faith and sense of purpose, and lead us to ask profound and important questions of ourselves and of the universe.


Sensitivity is a gift, whether we fall into the clinical category of a highly sensitive person (HSP) or are simply extra-attuned to the subtle, beautiful, and even the terrible in the world. Sensitivity likewise brings its share of challenges, which can be extreme, as well. We are easily overwhelmed, and can experience unparalleled depths of self-doubt, existential angst, decision paralysis, guilt, fear, shame, and other emotions that interrupt or fight against life. We can be so empathic and mentally flexible that we confuse others' feelings and perspectives with our own, and often have many perspectives living in our own heads. All of this can lead to difficulty finding and believing in our own voice and path, instead engaging in draining or distracting relationships and activities, and struggling with things like criticism, education, and institutional bureaucracies.


Such challenges are often exacerbated by traumatic experiences and culturally inherited patterns of emotion or belief. When a teacher offers constructive criticism, or, worse, conveys negative judgment or lack of faith in a young sensitive student, the student can easily be discouraged and derailed from their growth. When friends, family, or authority figures express disagreement with our work or faith, when they demand our time and energy, or when they create a conflictive, emotionally upsetting environment for us, let alone an abusive one, we can become exhausted, confused, and conflicted in pursuit of the endeavors and ways of life that we feel so deeply called to carry out.


As a sensitive musician and spiritually engaged person, I have been at times delighted by my gifts and sensitivities, and at times overwhelmed by thoughts, emotions, and relational patterns that distract and discourage me from what I truly love and feel called to do in life. I feel lucky to have encountered beautiful and helpful psychospiritual perspectives and practices as a young adult, in the midst of years of personal and professional struggle, pain, and confusion. These tools continue to bring me clarity, inspiration, encouragement, and comfort in my work, relationships, and spiritual life.


I choose to call my practice “The Sensitive Musician” because that archetype represents me as well as the kinds of clients I feel called and equipped to serve -- not only singers or players of musical instruments, but all kinds of people who are extra-attuned to the beauties and vibrations of life, who long to create more wonderful and divine works and ways of being in the world, and who have a "song" to sing, be it a melody or a message, to be sung, spoken, or shared through actions of love and faith.


“The Sensitive Musician” is me when I am practicing and performing, and when I am asking deep and difficult questions about life and the universe. It’s me nervous about a performance, or composing a song and getting lost in others' voices before finding my own. It's me singing in joyful flow in front of a deeply engaged audience or congregation; it’s me when a single compliment makes my week; it’s me overstimulated after a social event, needing rest and recovery before returning to work; it’s me when the beauty of a soul or a scripture holds me in rapture until it becomes a song; it’s me when I encounter poetry and kindness in forms I never knew existed, and I am inexplicably humbled.


The Sensitive Musician is probably you if you’ve read this far. It’s probably you if you relate to some of the things I’ve described, perhaps as someone who performs or composes music, prayers, or new forms of worship; or as someone who creates stories, poems, paintings, sermons, lectures, pedagogical tools, pep talks, healing modalities, or other works of beauty, manifestation, faith and leadership in the world. More importantly, it’s you if you feel deep in your soul a call to make this world more beautiful, hospitable, and filled with divine love, through whatever practices or pursuits are authentic to you. And it’s you if some of the traits of being highly sensitive make it at times delightful and at times agonizing to try and fulfill your vocation.


There are many ways you can find support in your journey (see here for some resources I've found helpful). You can learn more about me and my services here. If you think you might enjoy and benefit from working with me -- even if you simply have comments or questions, or just want to say “hi,” from one "Sensitive Musician" to another, I’d love to hear from you!


I hope also to create more community among people who resonate with this archetype. This includes offering group sessions, and perhaps other modes of fostering connection and mutual support between kindred spirits. That's all in the works, but saying hello is a lovely way to start. In the meantime, best wishes to you and your loved ones,

and may your heart find what it seeks.

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