I recently opened up my Facebook page to ask what questions people may have that would make a good blog. I received this email (heavily paraphrased, any identifying info taken out):

Hi Mary! I loved your Managing Psychic Abilities book. It was the first book that I have ever found that talks realistically about how to work with psychic abilities when you are overwhelmed by them. I have a question, though.

I get a lot of headaches, sinus pain, and weird immune issues. My nervous system also feels really off, especially during big astrological transits and full moons, as well as stress at work. Could you speak to this a bit. I think it would be a big help for many.–Seer

Hi Seer,

So yes, this is a common issue. In my Managing Psychic Abilities book, I talk about how psychics and sensitives simply notice more of the spectrum of reality than most people.

What we consider to be “normal” or valid as a society is a very narrow spectrum of reality, and is basically a state of emotional repression or lack of awareness of deeper considerations within the self as well as externally (perhaps a different blog).

So let’s say that society has deemed valid 1 percent of the total spectrum of reality. Psychics or sensitives then might notice 1.25 percent, or 25 percent. These are obviously just numbers to make a clear point. Psychic abilities and sensitivities have a range, and typically the more that you notice or interface with, the more your body will struggle with managing it all.

That is because psychic capacities require understandings, as well as skills and tools to manage (yes, the last shout out to my book, Managing Psychic Abilities). We don’t teach these in the modern world, and my path over the last twenty years has been to explore a lot of different physical, psychic, and spiritual paths to find out, basically, how to navigate the world without being continually sick, continually exhausted/depleted, or having severe migraines.

Through this I have had more and more sensitive and psychic clients come to me in my practice, and through the years I found out what not only worked for myself, but the spectrum of experiences people were having and how to assist them.

But back to your question.

When we are interfacing with our environment, we take in information through our spiritual nervous system. This is a fancy name for our nervous system plus our chakra system. This is located within the spinal column and the head; if you consider sushumna (the “midline”, or central energetic column running through the spine) as a sort of super-highway, controlling our bodies on everything from a spiritual to a very physical level, you will begin to see the importance of the midline.

Along sushumna are our chakras. What our chakras do is filter information. They are the first interface that we have with outer information. It is their job to take outer stimulus, filter it, and assimilate it within our psychic and then physical bodies.

Just for clarity, I will say that I view the physical body and the physical world as simply the densest, most obvious energies on a continuum. We then would have emotional, mental, and then spiritual energies (going from dense to less and less dense).

The further up we go on that spectrum of what we notice (back to those numbers, as in if you notice 10 percent of reality vs. 1.25 percent, that is a big difference) the more difficult it is for our spiritual nervous system to take in that information and filter it.

Picture a mega-concert where 20,000 people are waiting in line with tickets to get in. There are going to be some gate-crashers, overwhelm on the part of the staff (especially if it is not properly staffed), and other chaos.

What happens when our nervous system gets overwhelmed is that it begins to get “fried”. Our nervous system is basically like a series of wires. Ideally these wires have coating so they simply aren’t live wires. If these wires lose coating in a physical capacity, it means serious nervous system and other issues (like MS).

But if these wires are “fried”, especially on a regular basis (one too many concerts, so to speak) they lose their integrity. They no longer energetically have coating, they no longer are able to handle basic stimuli coming across, let alone large or continual stimuli coming across.

So let’s make things a bit more complex. In my book I talk about how every single highly psychic individual I have met (psychic abilities have a spectrum, which I discuss) has experienced trauma, particularly early childhood trauma. The other aspect of strong psychic abilities is genetics, as well as ancestral trauma.

We develop capacities in order to survive. I realize that this is not very romantic, but we do what we need to do to survive, as did our ancestors. Sometimes this equals having more awareness, being able to sense mood changes, to caretake for others who have no capacity to take care of themselves, to read minds, etc. to ensure basic safety.

But trauma creates a devastating impact on the nervous system. Our nervous systems have two basic modes: fight or flight and rest and digest (or sympathetic and parasympathetic).

There also is a third mode, which occurs when the terror or trauma of a situation moves someone so deeply into parasympathetic mode (rest and digest) that the person freezes.

As a society we are very much stuck in fight or flight– many of us, even “non-psychic”, have issues with digestion, menstruation, and other issues because we never switch “off” (to rest and digest mode).

But trauma, particularly the “freeze” response causes for the chakra system to simply not work – for large sections of the body to be offline, for the chakras to not open and close like they should, for them to not be able to filter like they should.

Of particular note with our nervous system is our Vagus nerve. This is one of our cranial nerves (that wiring I was speaking of) and it is particularly of note because of its length– while it begins in the head, it innervates the heart, lungs, digestive tract, goes into the pelvis, as well as the colon.

On a physiological level, what this means are things like erratic heartbeat, panic attacks, fainting spells, severe digestive issues, menstrual issues, and headaches that are fairly severe (such as migraines) as well as a whole host of mood issues, including severe depression, if this nerve is not working well. There have been interesting studies about the effects of stimulating this nerve in cases of severe depression, for example.

So let’s take this one step further. Our nervous system works with every other system in the body. Particularly of note is the immune system. What that means is that if the nervous system is continually depleted, overwhelmed, or “goes down” for whatever reason, you will have your immune system go down as well.

On top of all of this, let’s return to energetic-spiritual anatomy.

We have our sushumna, which is our central channel (going through the midline) which controls all of the other energetic channels in our bodies, as well as houses our chakras.

But we also have ida and pingala. These wrap around the sushumna (picture the caduceus) and particularly of note is that their pathway goes into the sinuses (the nostrils) and deep into the ethmoid (behind the nose) and terminate at the third eye.

Ida and pingala are responsible for helping to calibrate the spiritual nervous system along with sushumna, as well as open the body and its consciousness through breath (breath being the vehicle of consciousness).

Ida and pingala are smaller channels than sushumna (they are not super highways, more like country roads) and it is easy for them to get stagnant, or to not work properly when overwhelmed. This means sinus headaches, feelings of gunk in the head, particularly along their pathway.

To add one more thing to this I will say with increased emotional-mental stress this of course adds stress and overwhelm to a system. But I will particularly point out that if you are a seer, or someone who receives influxes of information (such as visions, downloads, or does ritual work or spiritual work which will result in much more information coming your way to have to process) that this means that if you are already in a state of an overwhelmed depleted system from too much stimulus plus unhealed trauma plus life stress that it is quite easy for a vision to create a crash in your system, leading to a migraine (the body attempting to process all of the input) and/or nervous system issues (rapid heartbeat, severe digestive distress, overwhelm including severe fatigue up to basically quasi-catatonic states) which will then cause the nervous system to crash, leading to immune system issues.

So what to do about this? Beyond understanding and learning skills to work with your psychic capacities (yes, my book) I would also say that keeping the appropriate psychic container is important. What that means is basically being in emotional and physical balance.

I do realize that this sounds simple, but for our energetic anatomy to have the appropriate “container” to deal with large influxes of energy, moving exercises (yoga, tai qi, qi gong, etc.) that establish physical health are necessary. I also encourage decompression of the system– basically, doing nothing (yes, putting the phone away). Progressive relaxation is a good place to start with this to get your nervous system to begin to process the stimuli and emotions within the physical form and eventually go into a much needed “rest and digest” state. This allows for basic nervous system integrity.

Mary Mueller Shutan is a spiritual healer, teacher, and author. You can find out mor about managing psychic abilities in her book: Managing Psychic Abilities: A Real World Guide for the Highly Sensitive Person.