By Judith E. Lipson, M.A., LPC
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has always fascinated me. The premise is that you must have your Physiological needs (food, water, breath, sleep), and your safety needs (employment, health, prosperity) met before you have the ability to adequately experience Love/belonging (friendship, family). Once these three aspects of the hierarchy have been attained you can reach Esteem (confidence, achievement, respect of and by others, self-esteem), and ultimately Self-actualization (morality, creativity, spontaneity, life’s meaning). Maslow believes everyone seeks self-actualization though it may not always be achieved.
Educators recognize that basic needs must be met for effective education to take place, and that the brain’s mechanism for protection (the amygdala) decreases learning in a hungry, worried or frightened child. To approach this problem systemically many districts are now creating trauma-informed schools, which provide a layered approach for safety and healing. (TraumaAwareSchools.org) These trauma-informed schools are appropriate for all socio-economic areas and also support neuro-sensitives who deal with the continuous “little t” traumas of sensory overload.
The seven major chakras:
1st – the Root chakra is at the base of your torso. It is your connection to your tribe and relates to security, abandonment by the group, and physical survival.
2nd – the Sacral or abdominal chakra relates to your relationships with family and others, and financial security.
3rd – the Solar plexus chakra is just above the navel. This chakra deals with your relationship with yourself: personal power, honoring the self, etc.
4th – the Heart chakra is in the center of your chest. It is your connection to love – for self and others.
5th – the Throat chakra is in the front of your neck and deals with your ability to speak your truth. It also relates to will. (Do you yield your power too willingly to others? Do you adequately support your own needs? Do you exert your power too strongly?)
6th – the Third Eye chakra is located between and just above your eyes in the center of your forehead. This chakra is identified as your connection to intuition and introspection.
7th – the Crown chakra is located at the top of your head and connects you to that which you call the Divine.
If you are interested in learning more about chakras, there are numerous books and websites.
Chakras and Maslow’s Hierarchy
As a student of metaphysics I began to see how understanding chakras could better explain neuro-sensitives, and that when the chakras are lined up to correspond with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs we see that:
Self-Actualization = Heart chakra (4th) thru Crown chakra (7th)
Esteem = Solar Plexus (3rd)
Belonging = Sacral (2nd)
Physiological & Safety = Root (1st)
From a chakra perspective neuro-typicals begin more grounded in their bodies. They seem to more easily inhabit their 1st through 3rd chakras and then develop upwards through the chakras developing their compassion for others and their intuition. As preschoolers they are often seen moving about their environment with ease. They live in their bodies. As teens or adults they seek to experience being out-of-body, often through meditation, as they long for the Oneness that they can feel while in that state.
Neuro-sensitives seem to live primarily from the upper chakras. Their relationship with others is empathic (4th) and often telepathic (6th). They are more able to experience and live in Oneness (7th). They are less likely to see the separateness that many neuro-typicals see in the ‘other’. As a result neuro-sensitives rarely sit in judgment of another. In fact, this honesty (5th) often gets them in trouble with others. They see a trait, and they speak it, without judgment. (“Mommy, that man is fat”, is not a judgment. It is a statement of observation.) This creates difficulties in effectively connecting with others (2nd). They also have a more complex association with their body (1st) since it often has soft muscle tone, depth-perception challenges, and a clear recognition of others’ energy patterns and emotions without realizing that they are not their own.
A succinct chakra description of a neuro-sensitive’s experience is that they have dense, uncomfortable lower chakras because:
- The Root is not grounded.
- The Sacral doesn’t distinguish self from others; they absorb others’ energies; they are often a mirror of others; they attempt to regulate others’ emotions; and have poor energy boundaries.
- The Solar Plexus can’t digest life issues (gut), and may have a weak sense of personal identity.
- This results in an amazing sense of love (Heart), and connectedness to all of humanity (Heart, Third Eye and Crown), but less connection to the physical body and a decreased access to being grounded.
For me it begs the metaphysical question: Are there a larger number of neuro-sensitives who tend toward oneness, compassion, empathy, and energy awareness, to off-set the vast numbers of individuals who still see the world in terms of separateness (me vs. other)? And is it any wonder that neuro-sensitives struggle to adapt to our educational, communication and employment systems?
You can help them to have an easier time:
- Understand and accept them
- Help them better integrate with their physical body (i.e. Sensory motor integration)
- Though there are meltdowns, anger, frustration, anxiety and discomfort, the body is not the enemy
- Minimize sensory input and overload
- Teach them how they are separate from others
- Allow processing and response time
- Appropriate nutrition (they may not digest and metabolize everything)
- Teach grounding, relaxation and energy modulation
- Learning strategies
- Social skills
- Explicit instruction
Focus on neuro-sensitives’ inherent gifts instead of on their challenges. Find ways to minimize their difficulties to ease their experiences. Reframe their world so that they too can experience the incredible gifts that they bring.
Judy Lipson is a Licensed Professional Counselor and educational strategist in West Bloomfield, MI. She helps clients of all ages who have learning difficulties, work or school related anxiety, ADHD, Asperger’s Syndrome or Autism Spectrum Disorders, and those who wish to Remember and Become ‘Who You Really Are’. Contact Judy at 248.568.8665 and firstname.lastname@example.org, and visit www.SpiralWisdom.net for more information.
This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to replace medical care.