FEP30 Embracing Sensitivity with Rochana Felde

Show Notes:

In this episode we turn the spotlight on Rochana and her work with the Highly Sensitive Person. Her personal journey as an HSP working in the corporate world informs her practice as she helps highly sensitive souls turn their sensory challenges into superpowers and thrive in an insensitive world.

Flower Essences discussed during the show:


Elaine Aron, author, The Highly Sensitive Person 

HSP Quiz https://hsperson.com/test/

Judith Orloff, author, The Empath’s Survival Guide

Empath Quiz: https://drjudithorloff.com/quizzes/

Find more Resources for Sensitives on Rochana’s website.

Show Transcript

Kathleen Aspenns: [00:00:41] Hi, flower lovers. It’s great to have you back on the podcast. Today is going to be a special spotlight on my pod partner, Rochana.

Rochana is a certified herbalist and flower essence practitioner who specializes in working with highly sensitive souls to turn their sensory challenges into superpowers and thrive in an insensitive world. Prior to this work, Rochana worked in corporate tech for several decades, and the challenges of being highly sensitive in this environment informs her work, where she creates custom flower essence blends for clients and provides holistic, integrative coaching to address nervous system overstimulation, healthier habits for stress management, and strategies for managing sensory stress in the workplace and at home. 

Rochana is a graduate of the Herbal Academy and the School for Evolutionary Herbalism. She’s had flower essence training from David Dalton with Delta Gardens, Sarah Crow at Floracopeia, Deborah Craydon at Flora Corona, Cynthia Kemp Scherer at Desert Alchemy, and Judith Poelarends at Alaskan Essences. She also has extensive aromatherapy training, shamanic journeying training and apprenticeship, and has received certifications in transformational and integrative cognitive-behavioral coaching. Is there anything you don’t do, girl?

Rochana Felde: [00:02:05] Well, a few things, but I do like to branch out.

Kathleen Aspenns: [00:02:10] Well, you are certainly well-rounded, and I think that really serves your clients well. And I’m really glad to be talking about your work today on the podcast. We’ve been wanting to talk about this topic of the highly sensitive person for a long time as this is your specialty. This is your field of interest, and it certainly is informed by your personal relationships with this topic. I would love to know a little bit about what we mean when we say what is a highly sensitive person.

Rochana Felde: [00:02:45] Yeah, of course. So it refers to sensory processing sensitivity, and this is work that was originally researched by Elaine Aron, and she’s written several books about it. And it, in a sense, means that it’s people and it’s not a disorder. So it’s not the same as sensory processing disorder. But it is a way that about 20% of the population relate to the world. 

It’s really the core trait. It’s considered a personality trait that is inherited and genetic, and that it came about as an evolutionary advantage, and it’s even in 20% of animals as well, roughly. But the core trait of it is depth of processing. So what that means is we just tend to, and I say we, because I am a highly sensitive person, which is why I went down the rabbit hole with it. And it’s really about thinking deeply and really processing like thinking about things from every angle, internalizing these thoughts and information, noticing patterns and storing those and kind of cataloging them and comparing them with past experiences. It can make people more intuitive because they might know something without knowing how they know. But it’s because we do this. We tend to just sort of notice everything. And there’s also some other criteria for being highly sensitive. 

And the way Elaine Aaron lumps these things together, she does have a self-test on her website. So that’s a really easy way to know if you’re highly sensitive is to just go and answer some of those questions. And she categorizes them into four areas. So the one is depth of processing.

Another is emotional reactivity and empathy, so the emotional, not reactivity, but responsiveness. So it’s really experiencing the emotions, the higher highs and the lower lows. And positive experiences can be really positive for us, but negative experiences can be even more negative for us maybe than other people. And then, with the empathy part of it, it’s been shown that our mirror neurons, which is a more recent discovery in brain science, but that’s what we have, everybody has, mirror neurons that help us relate to other people. And if we see them in pain, we know what they’re feeling, that kind of thing.

Another arm of this piece is sensory sensitivity, and that is where everything involved with our senses, what we see, what we hear, what we smell, it’s a little bit more intense like the strong smells, bright lights, loud noises can really agitate us or set us off. And it doesn’t mean we have necessarily better vision than other people, but it means we might just notice more with our eyes or see things, the connections and things that other people might not see. But it’s interesting that it does really, for me, become a very physical sensitivity.

The fourth thing is overstimulation. So obviously, somebody who is dealing with processing everything more intensely and being more affected by their senses and the noises and the lights that might have more of an emotional reaction to all the things going on around us, we get overstimulated really quickly, really easily, especially in environments that are complex, that have many of these things happening or that just go on for too long so we don’t have the stamina to hang out as long in these environments.

So that is DOES, D-O-E-S, the depth of processing, the overstimulation, the empathy, and the sensitivity that are the hallmarks of this trait of being HSP.

Kathleen Aspenns: [00:07:47] Wow. Really interesting. I’m glad that you’ve gone so deep into this. It’s not something that I’ve really ever explored. I’ve sort of heard about it, but I’ve never read into it. But listening to your breakdown of it, I’m thinking check, check, check. And I’m willing to bet that a lot of our listeners are also feeling that way as well. I would be inclined to think that people who are interested in flower essences are probably pretty heavily weighted towards this population.

Rochana Felde: [00:08:20] Absolutely. I mean, I think most people who are attracted to flower essences are on that spectrum of sensitivity in some fashion or another. Another hallmark of HSPs is being more sensitive to, what I would call, chemical medicine, whether that’s pharmaceutical or even herbs. The body seems to not need as high of a dose or might be skewed to having more of an adverse reaction even. And so that’s another reason why flower essences are such a great thing to have in the toolbox for the highly sensitive person.

Kathleen Aspenns: [00:09:03] Wow. Yeah, absolutely. I think that this is really insightful, and I really appreciate that you’ve done all this work on this. And how did you come to the place of learning about this and exploring this? Tell us a little bit about your story in life.

Rochana Felde: [00:09:22] Yeah. Well, I mean, I always knew that there was something– I thought there was something wrong with me for most of my life. And that’s a common story that you’ll hear from most highly sensitive people. And so I knew there was something different, but I went through my life and got into– as an adult, I was really good with working in tech and business and doing analysis. So I became a business systems analyst for a large corporation and then eventually, a programmer.

And when I look back on that now, I know that being an analyst was kind of second nature to me because that’s the way my brain worked. My brain really liked to dive in deep and see all of the different facets of information and put together stories for what that means to be able to interview people in that world. There’s a lot of customer interviews to find out what they say need in a computer system or an interface. And I was always really able to just be intuitive and elicit that information from people who weren’t part of that world and didn’t really know how to create a computer system. So that’s where I kind of was able to turn this sort of intuition and this ability to process information into a plus for me.

But the minus was working in that world and working in a corporate environment, also as a woman, in buildings that were very brightly lit with fluorescent lights and maybe there were a lot of phones ringing, or it’s very high stress. And so I did not know how to manage that at all. I had no tools in my toolbox for managing stress. And as a young person, I basically turned to drugs and alcohol. I was a binge drinker on the weekends. And I eventually got into taking antianxiety medication because I just had no tools for managing the stress. 

So long story shorter, I will say that it’s been a journey. It’s been a long journey that’s been full of a lot of challenges. But once I started to realize that I needed better ways to manage my stress, and I found herbs and flower essences and other kinds of support, and I started making healthier choices for my life, I started to accept the parts of myself that I never would allow– I’m also an introvert. And so once I started to accept that, I wasn’t so hard on myself for not being able to go out in social situations and sort of do what other people were doing and burning the candle at both ends.

And I realized that I just had to do what I needed, what my body needed. I still didn’t know about HSP at this time. So it’s only really been in the last, I don’t know, five years that this started becoming something that I became aware of. And once I read Elaine Aaron’s list and started reading her book, it just changed my life. And that acceptance of finally realizing, oh my God, there’s not something wrong with me, this is a real thing. And not only is it a real thing, it’s not just about trying to manage the overstimulation. It’s something that I can really revel in these gifts. They helped me in my earlier career and they help me now. And when I realize what I need to use these in a positive way and not get overstimulated by them, that’s where the sweet spot is. And that’s what I like to help my clients find as well.

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Kathleen Aspenns: [00:48:47] This podcast is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. We are not physicians and do not diagnose, prescribe, or treat medical conditions. Please consult with your own physician or health care practitioner regarding the suggestions and recommendations made by the hosts and guests of The Flower Essence podcast.

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