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Vibrant Days…
Flourishing with Sensory Processing Sensitivity


The reason little noises drive you mad is about more than sounds

Fascinating research into ‘misophonia’ – an intolerance to specific sounds – is revealing an important role for context

When Megan Davies was around 11 years old, family dinners became acutely torturous. It was the sounds her parents and six siblings were making: the chewing, slurping, smacking noises that accompany an average meal. Dinner with her family meant ‘hearing sounds that were just making me want to jump out of my skin,’ she says.

It was a pattern that would repeat over the next 50 years: common sounds, which eventually expanded to include tapping, clicking and rustling noises, among others, touched off a wave of anger and disgust. Davies, who today works as a medical epidemiologist in Raleigh, North Carolina, grew skilled at inventing excuses for why she had to leave situations. Still, it weighed on her. ‘I felt very guilty that I was such a difficult person,’ she says.

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Meeting Fear with Rest

When fear rushed in, I learned how to hear my heart racing, but refused to allow my feelings to sway me. That resilience came from my family. It flowed through our bloodline. —Coretta Scott King, My Life, My Love, My Legacy 

Author Cole Arthur Riley describes how she has faced a lifetime of fear, ultimately praying to God for restful steadiness.

More than most things, I’m afraid. When I say this, people always seem to want to assure me that it isn’t the case. But we know. Since I was little, I would always find a way to imagine the worst possible versions of the future. Maybe on some level I’ve grown to believe if I prepare for it, it will hurt less when it comes. But it makes for an agitated body and mind. When you always expect a demon around every corner, your most mundane moments still feel like a risk…. 

What do we do when our fears are in fact rational? When fear and wisdom are enmeshed? When we would be foolish not to fear? More often than we realize, fear is a protective intuition. It is what stops you from driving with no headlights on, from touching your hand to flame, from going outside to meet the coyotes. We don’t have to demonize our fear to survive it. For this reason, I have an aversion to language of “conquering” our fears. We are not at war with ourselves; it is better to listen with compassion. 

As a child, maybe you were told there is nothing to be afraid of. As adults, when we’re most honest, I think we know we have everything to be afraid of. This world, which has been so unsafe to so many of us, cannot be trusted not to harm us again. This isn’t pessimism, it’s confession.

Still, to live in a constant state of fear will keep you from the rest you were meant for. They are near opposites, fear and rest. It is not likely that you’ll relax those shoulders if somewhere within you feel the house is on fire. I want us to honor our fears without being tormented by them. Sacred intuition without restlessness.

This quote from James L. Farmer is at the front of my journal: “Courage, after all, is not being unafraid, but doing what needs to be done in spite of fear.” [1] The implication, of course, is that if you’re not scared, it’s not courage. If there is any bravery in me, it is in my refusal to let fear eclipse my imagination for anything other than pain. To maintain imagination for both the beautiful and the terrible is to marry prudence and hope.

Arthur Riley offers this breath practice:

INHALE: I will not be silenced by fear.

EXHALE: A quivering voice is still sacred.

INHALE: God, my soul trembles.

EXHALE: Steady me in your arms.

INHALE: I will meet this fear with rest.

EXHALE: God, steady me in your arms.

[1] James Farmer, Lay Bare the Heart: An Autobiography of the Civil Rights Movement (New York: Arbor House, 1985), 3.

Cole Arthur Riley, Black Liturgies: Prayers, Poems, and Meditations for Staying Human (New York: Convergent, 2024), 96–97, 97–98, 104.

What song I love even more now since I watched this.


What I’m pondering:

in its highest aspect,
does not serve
but rather dispels delusion.


In this together,

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