My Autistic Journey Into Mindfulness

My Autistic Journey Into Mindfulness


There’s a foot-sized painted ceramic salamander sitting on a stone subsequent to my neighbor’s storage. He’s so charming to me, with swirls of navy, burnt sienna, and pale inexperienced snaking throughout his white flesh. His tail is damaged. His eyes are bewildered and hole. I come to a halt in the midst of the sidewalk simply to marvel at him.

I’ve walked down this precise sidewalk each single day for months. I’ve lived on this neighborhood and paced its facet streets for over eight years. How have I by no means observed this salamander earlier than?

How a lot delight have I misplaced the possibility to expertise, as a result of I’m all the time so swept up in dissociation and stress?


The primary time a therapist beneficial mindfulness to me, I scoffed at her. I couldn’t see how rigorously observing water cascading over my spoons whereas I did the dishes would do something to fix the distress in my life. Actually, being extra current in actuality appeared like it might make my struggling worse.

Many autistic individuals report “blanking out” of actuality to deal with sensory overwhelm. A few of us additionally disappear from the bodily world when there are too many faces and our bodies round for us to totally course of. One autistic particular person I quoted in my e-book advised me that at giant household gatherings and in school, the individuals round him all turn into “blurry” and he travels right into a psychological realm that’s solely his personal.

However not too long ago, I opened up The Dialectical Behavioral Remedy Expertise Workbook for Bipolar Dysfunction by Sheri Van Dijk. My companion has bipolar, and I assumed the workout routines within the e-book may assist me perceive them higher. One in all Van Dijk’s first suggestions for individuals battling mania or despair was to apply mindfulness. Not as a result of it might make something higher. Solely as a result of it might pressure an individual to just accept how issues truly have been.

“The purpose of mindfulness isn’t that can assist you calm down or calm your self,” Van Dijk writes within the DBT Workbook. “The one objective of the train is to be within the current second extra usually. When checked out from this attitude, mindfulness all the time works.”

Huh, I assumed. My previous therapist had by no means framed mindfulness that manner. Every time I had heard about mindfulness in help teams or in random self-help books, it was all the time introduced as an answer to difficulties like despair, neurosis, and social nervousness.

“Regardless of the expertise is,” Van Dijk writes, “it’s already there. Simply let it come to your consciousness.”

I couldn’t argue along with her there. The ache that was inside me had by no means stopped lurking. I’d been attempting to outpace it for 34 years. If I couldn’t beat it again, possibly it was time to permit myself to face it. Then I might see what, if something, my ache needed to train me.


It’s a scorching, sunny day in early Might and I’m sitting at a desk within the park, attempting to learn.

A lady sits at a desk close to me, alongside along with her toddler-aged son. She’s snapping her gum and holding a prolonged, full-volume dialog over speakerphone. Her son retains dashing throughout us. I’m so delicate to motion, unpredictability, and noise. A throbbing emerges in my temple. My jaw tightens.

Usually, that is once I jam earbuds in, blast music, and flip by way of my telephone. There are such a lot of instruments to help in my dissociation. Social media was mainly engineered to stop an individual from experiencing the world round them mindfully. However at this time, I select to remain in actuality. I let the precise expertise of being myself on this world crash over me like a wave.

Mindfulness Important Reads

The park is simply too busy and distracting. I’m in ache. I need to be regular. I don’t need to be so simply damage and outmanned like this. I don’t need to really feel this fashion. I’ve been attempting to not really feel this fashion for many years. However I really feel this fashion. That is it.

After a couple of minutes, I rise up and slowly stroll house. For as soon as, I’m not offended on the lady, or her toddler, or the world. I’m simply resigned. The turmoil I’m experiencing has all the time been right here. I can’t repair it. I can solely settle for it, after which change how I behave. At this time, acceptance means listening to the frightened animal inside me, and altering means lovingly main it someplace extra secure.

As I stroll house, I give attention to the feeling of my skinny Converse hitting the uneven gravel. I stride by way of a development website and see the light give of the mud beneath my ft. A cool breeze kisses my face as I method my constructing, which overlooks Lake Michigan.

The extra often I apply mindfulness, the extra attuned I’m turning into to my very own discomfort. There are numerous conditions that I discover myself leaving now fairly swiftly, and plenty of hungers that I’m simply studying how one can fulfill.

The jitteriness fades. I don’t burst out screaming in anger anymore. I’m unhappy and drained. I’m at peace typically. When the lilacs are in bloom, their scent catches my consideration, together with the moist loam of the dust after it rains. I pause to go searching, to attract myself shut to those options of my atmosphere, to see them, to scent them. When a stranger pauses to go with my outfit or share some benign non sequitur, I hear them.

I stay on the planet now, with all its frustrations. I expertise myself transferring by way of the world slowly, bathed in gentle and pleasure, and I’m additionally way more conscious of the ache I’m usually in. Mindfulness means noticing once I’m not doing properly, and taking good care of my physique. It means recognizing how tough I truly discover life to be, and grieving for the alienation and lack of accessibility I face. But it surely additionally means I get to cease working away from the inevitable. It means cool breezes, heat palms, and infrequently, superbly painted salamanders. And I’m accepting all that fairly properly.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *