Your Rainforest Mind

Support For The Excessively Curious, Creative, Smart & Sensitive

What Your Ruminating, Analyzing, Synthesizing Mind-Body Needs

51 Comments

photo courtesy of Ron Sartini, Unsplash, CC

When you have a rainforest mind, you’re a deep, fast thinker. Your mental capacity is vast. You think, worry, question, ruminate, reckon, critique, imagine, analyze, synthesize, emote, and evaluate. Most of the time. OK. All of the time. 

So, I’m wondering. What about your body? Do you give your body the attention that it deserves? Do you notice your mind-body connection? Are you tuned in to what your body is telling you? Because, if you’re a highly driven creative ruminator-imaginer-analyzer, which, face it, you are, then, your body is not a passive participant. Your whole body is also ruminating, imagining and analyzing.

This may be obvious to some of you. If so, you can go back to training for that marathon. I’ll see you next time.

If it’s not obvious, listen up.

I’m very aware of my own on-again-off-again relationship with my physical self. It’s been a long-standing conundrum. For most of my life, I’ve been able to ruminate quite well without regard for what my body might be experiencing. But, over the years, I’ve learned that these bones might have something to say. This body might be a source of intuition or wisdom or, dare I say, pleasure. There might be some old trauma that has made its home in my heart that is ready to leave. Or relaxing my neck muscles after a long day of thinking, worrying and questioning could be beneficial.

Who knew?

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I awakened my mind-body through the Argentine tango. The tango has been my entry into body-ness.

And there are many other embodying methods that I’ve experienced as well: Massage. Rolfing. Breathwork. Somatic psychotherapy. Gardening. Hiking. Walking. Reiki. Energy work. Tree hugging. Meditation. Yoga. Singing. Acting. Hot showers. Salsa dancing. Other possibilities I haven’t tried: Running. Body building. Skate boarding. Bungee jumping. Hang gliding. Mountain climbing. Wingsuit flying. Volcano surfing.

You get the idea.

The more driven and mentally speedy that you are, the more you’re going to need to attend to your mind-body. Pay attention to its needs. Teach it to relax. Appreciate its wisdom. Listen to its messages.

And if you go volcano surfing, well, I don’t think I want to know about it.

______________________________

To my bloggEEs: Tell us what you do to care for your mind-body. Do you feel deeply embodied? Disconnected? How do you relax your mind-body? What are your bones telling you? (If you’ve experienced trauma in childhood, you might have a very complex mind-body experience. Here’s an introduction to that information from Maria Popova in Brain Pickings shared by Jen at Rediscovering Yourself.)

It’ll be three years this month since I started this blog! I so appreciate all of you for continuing to read, share and comment. I hope to build a page at some point so that it’ll be easier to find posts on topics of interest. For now, though, remember that you can use the search engine or the tags to find what you’re looking for.

And, I just received notice that I’ll be presenting at the SENG conference in August 2017 in Chicago, USA. I’d love to meet many of you there!

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Author: Paula Prober

I'm a psychotherapist in private practice in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in counseling gifted adults and consulting with parents of gifted children. The label "gifted" is often controversial and confusing. I use the metaphor of the rain forest to describe this population. Like the rain forest, these individuals are quite complex, highly sensitive, intense, multi-layered, and misunderstood. They're also curious, idealistic, highly intelligent, creative, perfectionistic, and they love learning. I've been an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I've written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, and Advanced Development Journal. My book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, was released in June 2016 by GHF Press and is available on Amazon or at your independent bookstore.

51 thoughts on “What Your Ruminating, Analyzing, Synthesizing Mind-Body Needs

  1. Reblogged this on helenjnoble and commented:
    I love this blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Beautiful reminder Paula, thank you! For many years I was involved with so many sports and releases, walking, kung fu, swimming, rollerskating, step reebok, dancing! But, somehow, with motherhood I inevitably focused on my children and that literally translated into ‘no time for me’ time. That and a sun allergy heavily impacted upon me and is a cause of huge regrets, bodily pains [falling down the stairs twice really hasn’t helped…never leave books on stairs!] and weight gain. I desperately want to climb a mountain, well 2 actually =) and hope to perform hajj which is really physical as well. So, I need to motivate myself into a mindset of can change! I have a serious negative body image which impacts in an illogical way when it comes to fitness [feel embarrassed to be seen!] so that mindset has to go. I loved being fit and active and miss that more than anything. I’m oping re-establishing habits i kept for 30 years should be something realistic to achieve, Amazing timely motivating post. Thank you! ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Congratulations on presenting at the SENG Conference– the people in Chicago will learn a lot.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Wingsuit flying! Can we wear capes? Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh yes – this is me. I have often analyzed my giftedness and the overexcitabilities and I think there is something “differently wired” about some of us. My husband is also gifted, but is SO laid back. I hit almost every OE. 🙂 That being said, I have a tremendous amount of physical endurance. I don’t “look like” an athlete, but I thrive on a good 45-60 minute walk as often as I can fit it in. It’s not just for staying in shape -it’s crucial for mental health and sleep. Some people don’t need this to feel normal , but it seems I do. I begin to not feel so great when I haven’t been in awhile. I wish I weren’t so high-maintenance, but I’ve read some others are that way, too – James Taylor is that way, too – and makes a point to row on the water most days for some of the same reasons. There are pros to it in terms of staying healthy – and having energy – but I do very much have to take care of myself physically to stay in balance. While it requires discipline, at least it’s relatively easy and “free” to just go walking.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you for this post, Paula. A timely reminder to keep doing what needs to be done to keep my body sensitive and intuitive. At the far reaches of seventy, I find long swims one of the ways to keep my body/mind connection. The combination of physical activity and meditation does wonders.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I have always been very active, but a massive car accident while pregnant with my now 16 year old (RFM) son left me somewhat sidelined. I can still hike and swim, but the intense cardio I used to thrive on now results in an increase in my daily pain. I do love yoga, but I find myself very reluctant to practice when I am in an FBE (full bodied emotion) state. Its what I need, but resist allowing the thoughts and ruminations in. I would love some suggestions!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It must be so hard to not be able to do the intense cardio when that was what served you so well. I’m not sure what to suggest but I do know that many of us avoid doing the things that would be so helpful to our well-being. It’s a bit of a mystery to me why that is. Perhaps if you just started with 10 minutes? Or if you see it as good modeling for your son? Or if you do the yoga when you’re not in the FBE state to begin with and that will get you going? Maybe others will have more ideas. Thanks for sharing, Heidi.

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  8. How timely this article is, Paula. I’ve been experiencing strange stomach aches and cramps, as well as problems further down the road (so to speak!). Been researching online and it looks like I am developing an ulcer. I have been overwhelmed by taking care of my oldest brother, Todd. He’s mentally incapacitated and became critically ill in January, and now needs long term care/rehab. Paperwork has been prepared for my becoming his Guardian, and it’s a terrible mess because he really has no home to be discharged to. (Long story). I’ve been dealing with very stressful events in my own life, mainly undertaking a job search, and then BOOM, now this happened. I’ve had to deal with my other brother, Mark, with whom I have a more rocky relationship with, as well. Being who I am, deeply sensitive and caring, I’ve ruminated over my troubled relationship with Mark constantly. It’s finally dawning on me that Mark may have issues as well, that it’s not entirely ‘my fault’, nor am I a ‘bad sister’ for rethinking my capability to be Todd’s Guardian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my goodness, Beth. That sounds like quite a lot to handle. It would be important for you to make it a priority to take care of yourself for sure! And for you to recognize that you’re surely not a “bad sister!!”

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  9. I love this topic. I think a lot about how my external and internal worlds work together, and I think what I do as far as sleep, nutrition, and exercise have major affects on my brain in a way non RFM friends and family don’t always get. It’s hard to explain why I really can’t eat that, or hang out then, or skip my workout, or sit in the same room as you right now, but I find as I get older that I’m understanding these things more and more for myself, and maybe in five to ten years I will be able to explain it to those who are close to me.

    That said, I took up running about a year and a half ago. I have always been active, involved in sports as a child and dancing professionally and in college, but when I quit dancing I needed an activity that would help me be healthy and wouldn’t be as judge-y and emotionally draining as what I had been through. I took up running and I love it. I have a hard time sitting still and doing things like meditation (although I also love yoga). Running lets me think, connect with nature, and also find a rhythm to let my mind go. I’ll run when I need to cry it all out, or if I’m feeling particularly energized, or if I’m really tired. I set the goals or not. And signing up for races keeps me motivated to continue and gives me a chance to feel the energy from others while not having to be overly social (introvert). BTW I cry at almost every finish line. I’ve also found a Harry Potter themed running group via Facebook where I’m able to positively impact the world through charitable work, talk to like-minded people, and stay active. Hello OEs!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hey Paula, another great subject! Although I do stay active, at 67 not as active as I would like to be. For me, sustaining or improving one’s physical well being is appealing, but nothing is better than a good old intellectual workout. By the way Paula, I am also scheduled to speak at this years Seng Conference. My presentation will be on “Unknowingly Growing-up Gifted”. See you there! Richard

    Liked by 1 person

  11. OOPS, will do!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for this important message, Paula. Only in very recent days thanks to participating in an online women’s wellness conference & circle, have I begun to grasp the extent of the disconnection between my mind and body. I’ve understood for a long time how my abusive childhood caused disconnections and rifts within my psyche… but it’s taken me much longer to make it out of my head and start to ask questions about the body I travel within.
    Ignoring my body virtually all of last year lead to a severe health crash and I’ve been entirely bedbound for 3 months now. In and out of hospital a lot. I think truly connecting with (and listening to) my body might be my biggest challenge so far. I’ve started by having ‘my body’ write a message ‘to me’ in my journal each day. I’m starting to learn how to shut up with the rebuttals, and just listen. After all, I didn’t do a very good job of looking after myself without my body’s input.

    On a completely different note Paula, I saw this clip of the singer Lorde today: https://youtu.be/86s_1hpX4Yc

    Lorde is intellectually gifted (go figure) and I found this song so beautiful, but heartbreaking. How many gifted girls and women feel this way?

    Best wishes

    Liked by 1 person

    • So good to hear from you, Ro. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had such a major health crisis. Writing from your body and listening to its voice is so important. And, it makes sense if you’ve had an abusive childhood that you’d have coped by disconnecting. Sending you lots of support for your process. And thanks for the link to Lorde’s song. Very touching and a message many here will relate to.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I realise it’s a small tangent, but I wonder if this comes up in your therapy room or if it’s an issue for others:

    I had quite a reputation as a child and teenager as being very physically able. If I attempted a sport or activity the understanding and actions just seemed to manifest so perfectly from my body simply by watching the pros. I was one of those awful kids who captained all my sports teams and played at provincial (state) level. It all came very naturally at that age. I was pegged as a future national participant/player in no less than three different sports. Being physically active meant having to engage in competition in one way or another. I thrived on it – and almost always succeeded.

    As an adult, my edges have blurred and my enthusiasm for sports been whittled down to the highlights reel on the news; this from a growing social avoidance and insatiable need to exercise my mind instead.

    Still, I cannot forget the occasional moments I had as a sports-person; the kind that sport-people call “being in the zone”. It’s such an incredibly euphoric state of being that allows its person to play and act perfectly, without any error- and without effort. Those moments are perfect moments where the body seems to disengage from the mind.

    I once had a coach who had the gumption to tell me that I would never make it at national level unless I learned to stop thinking so much. (Of course, I decided to think about how to stop thinking!) I stuffed up plays, got sluggish and numbed my reflexes when I got stuck in my thinking – a sort of anxiety. It was a wonder I got as far as I did because I am still the most anxious and hypervigilant person I know. My anxiety often resulted in getting physically ill on the sportsfield – one of a few reasons I stopped competitive sports. That and I mentally struggled to form any friendships and connections with any fellow sports people. I learned to dislike the company in general – especially social sports. It’s no joke when they refer to themselves as a ‘Drinking team with a [insert sport] problem’. Aargh. Terribly inane company.

    Dare I say that a lot of the most successful sportsmen and women are typically average-minded. That’s not to say there aren’t highly intellectually gifted and successful sportspeople out there. The latter have obviously figured out how to disengage their minds in a performance.

    Having such an anxious personality and incessantly busy mind put me at such a disadvantage on the sportsfield. Truthfullly, I’m old enough to have grieved those mis-accomplishments enough. I love the places I’ve been in my mind over the last decade without sports. It actually would be a far bigger challenge to lose the lazy, fifteen kilograms than actually go out and run the races and compete again. Luckily, I have a myriad of other half-abilities and interests and never quite identified with being an athlete.

    (Sadly, I have never been enthralled by dancing – the idea makes me far too self-conscious – thus an unpleasant experience). I MUST go out and find something to do again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t say that I’ve heard a story quite like this one, Anonymous, but I’m sure they’re out there. I’ve certainly had clients who were both intellectually and athletically gifted. I wonder if you’re also a visual-spatial learner in that you could learn the sport by “watching the pros.” It’s an interesting combination you describe, both being “in the zone” and “thinking too much.” Maybe someone will chime in with some thoughts! Thanks for sharing.

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      • I was just thinking: it seems these are two extreme ways of being that ultimately involves a sort of disconnection of mind and body. Being in the zone for a gifted sportsperson means disengaging the cognitive mind from the body, with his/her being (focus) in the body.

        A gifted creative or mathematician (you could even imagine stereotypes here) during intense thinking and creativity seems to discossiate and disengage the body from the mind, with his/her being in the mind. I can also describe this as a “being in the zone” moment. It’s probably why Alan Turing chose running as his ‘sport’. It allows the mind to still be centre while the body works. Deep, intense thinking is not possible during, say, a tennis match. Or at least not if you plan on winning said match.

        I’ve experienced both despite having a more natural inclination to move into mind and create “in the zone”. These moments are those when a piece of art or music seems to just flow out of me with little effort. Or a personal theory on the Speed of Perception manifests in mind. It’s a natural high I wouldn’t trade for anything.

        Perhaps the aim is to find a healthy disengagement between the two – balance. Those “zones” are wonderful places to be, but I’m not sure can be achieved simultaneously. Or can it?

        Liked by 1 person

        • That elusive feeling of being “in the zone” , where conscious thought seems to drift away into the background and pure intuition takes over, can be addictive. I certainly was for me, perhaps especially so since I struggled with ADHD, which is like living with your head underwater, adrenaline acting somewhat like a snorkel. I try to achieve that same feeling through art but it’s tougher to replicate that same feeling of tapping directly into the primal part of our minds (without the aid of mind-altering substances that is, which every artist must be careful to not lean on too heavily).

          Liked by 1 person

    • I was also a multi-sport athlete. I was undefeated on the track for almost a decade, eventually beat by athletes that trained year-round with coaches. I played most of the team sports and may have become pro if I hadn’t grown sick of the jock-herd mentality and quit to focus on individual sports.

      I eventually quit those too when a provincial coach approached me at a competition and out of the blue said “You think you’re so f***ing cool. You might have everyone else fooled, but as long as I’m the head coach you will never be named to the team”. He walked away before I could recover from the shock to defend myself, because we had never spoken a word to each other prior to that moment.

      I had no idea he hated me so much so I didn’t know what triggered his dream-crushing outburst, but I suspected a mix of fear and jealousy (despite my introversion and shyness –which many people mistake for being aloof and arrogant — I was popular because I was a free-spirit). He was only a few years older than I, and he was repulsive to the ladies.

      Anyway I totally relate to that feeling of having your body performing at its peak, but also the double edged sword of having a finely tuned nervous system that is extra prone to anxiety.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m sorry you had your dreams “crushed” by someone who was supposed to support and nourish them. He sounds so insecure – not unlike a coach I had once who, every time I got upset with myself for messing up, took it as personal dissent toward her. I was kicked out of a match completely unexpectedly and totally out of the blue when I sighed in frustration at my own error – it came out as a sort of “aaargh”. She thought I was directing it at her refereeing skills and banned me from the game. Bizarre.
        I abandoned competition and became an academic instead. And then of all things, studied Fine Art. Nobody can take it personally – especially not in the name of art 😄

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sounds like multipotentiality, Anonymous! Have you read about it? Your comments about being in the zone physically and mentally will stimulate a lot of thought here, I’m sure!

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        • Thank you. But perhaps by that time my fate was already sealed because I was losing support all over, for example many of the athletes’ parents assumed my eccentricities were evidence I was “on drugs”, which I did not touch. “Squares” just don’t like their turf being invaded by “freaks”.

          Like you, my failure to reach my dreams as an athlete awoke the artist inside, and art has always been a refuge for freaks. 🙂

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      • Sounds like a painful memory, Mark. Thank you for sharing it here. Quite an interesting discussion.

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        • Thank you Paula. Speaking of ruminating…to me these are not just painful memories. I also think of them as clues that something is amiss.

          Why do so many gifted people develop neuroses or otherwise fail to live up to their potential? Why is there a need for dedicated people like you to help us overcome those neuroses!? Is it because at our core we feel under-valued or even persecuted by society, even at its own peril?

          Animals do not attempt to destroy those who may be best equipped to ensure the group’s survival, but people do it all the time, believing the most aggressive and ruthless among us to be natural-born leaders.

          This is a fascinating article about that phenomenon that compares wolf societies to human societies: http://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/alpha-male-wolves/

          “The term alpha male connotes a man who at every moment demonstrates that he’s in control in the home and who away from home can become snarling and aggressive.
          This alpha male stereotype comes from a misunderstanding of the real thing.”

          “Biologists used to consider the alpha male the undisputed boss. But now they recognize two hierarchies at work in wolf packs—one for the males, the other for the females…
          “It’s the alpha female who really runs the show.””

          Liked by 1 person

    • I can so relate to what you’ve said! I was definitely a very ‘anxious and hypervigilant’ athlete, as a team member (field hockey, volleyball). Sometimes I’m amazed I even made it to the varsity level, because I was so plagued by interpersonal angst. I just wanted to share one experience I had, when I was quite young, age 12. I was a fast sprinter, and I’d made it to some city-wide semi-final or other (obviously I can’t remember exact details!!). In the race I was running (100-yd dash), I was winning…was ahead of the next girl by a short distance. Then guess what? I felt sorry for her, and I slowed down!

      I know this anecdote doesn’t directly relate to ‘zones’ but I think it’s an example of how very differently gifted people connect to the world. We are always swimming through many more layers of meaning than the average person. In that slice of time, I must have valued being ‘nice’ more than ‘winning’, skewed though that perspective was!

      My coach was truly mystified, and I was too!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting discussion of the rainforest-minded person who is also gifted physically. I wonder if it was your empathy that got the best of you! And also it sounds like the “dumbing down” applied to sports. Thanks for sharing, Beth.

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      • Oh Beth! I did exactly that too! When I was younger I was unusually fast and strong for my age as a girl – I did end up being 5″11″ which explains it. I held back often; slowing down, not trying to throw or hit too hard so as not to hurt people. When I was ten I met a girl at school who happened to be swimming against me in a relay team. She had actually asked me before the race to not beat her because she had never won anything. I swam next to her the whole way and watched her so that she would touch just ahead of me. I had forgotten about that…
        Oh, I felt guilty on so many occasions for winning things. I would tell my opponents that I didn’t actually deserve to win and that I was just really lucky… Their loss at my benefit affected me so deeply. It was a long hard journey allowing myself to be a winner, at which point I quit competive sports out of that anxiety.
        I did this in the classroom too, but that’s a whole other story and I’ve exhausted the comments on this post already 😛
        Beth, I don’t regret being kind as a child for anything. I’ve often wanted to just hand back all the awards. You didn’t miss out 😉

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        • Your story made me smile and almost cry! I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s been nearly moved to tears because online sharing venues such as this one allow us to come out of our closets and receive validation for our deeply multi-sensitive awarenesses. Hey, are you a member of the InterGifted Facebook group? You ought to check it out. It’s an awesome way to stay connected to the tribe. It’s now a part of my breakfast routine (cereal, coffee, Intergifted, oops late for work almost!)

          Seriously, thanks so much for sharing!

          Liked by 1 person

  14. I have done a lot of things over the years. My most recent activities that I do regularly are nature walks and yoga, but I find it really hard to get the chatter and analyzing and overthinking in my mind to give up control of the situation to my body for a while. I used to be able to running or doing yoga, but now I have a constant stream of distracting thought processes that I can’t seem to shut off. Perhaps now because I have so many more ‘jobs’ on my plate, work, house, children, homeschooling (a child who is even more rainforesty than me). Recently I started horse riding again after decades off, and I have found it is great! I really have to concentrate on what I am doing and what the horse is doing, and I can be in the moment rather than being off planning and analyzing everything else in my head.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That might be a key, Gabrielle. To find something where you have to concentrate so much that your mind can’t go off ruminating. I find tango dancing to be like that. I imagine rock climbing would require extreme focus. Maybe others will have ideas. And, one thought is that it’s not necessarily shutting off thoughts because that may be impossible most of the time. But maybe it’s not getting attached to them, as the Buddhists would say. Or, if you’re meditating, continuing to come back to the breath as many times as needed, but not being concerned that you’re distracted many times each minute.

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