Tag Archives: meditation

New Beginnings

Emma suggested I write about “new beginnings and offering ways to practice tolerance and hope for those who despair.”

I asked Emma what she suggested to those who are in despair.  She typed, “Best to give despair less space.”

“Yeah, okay.  How do you suggest people do that?” I asked.

“By filling the mind with all the beauty that is life,” Emma typed.

Yesterday Emma, B. and I talked about what happens when one becomes overwhelmed and how this is a human response, no matter what the neurology.  Overwhelm and feelings of not being able to cope are things all people feel from time to time.  We discussed different ways people try their best to cope: taking a break, taking a nap, acts of kindness, identifying all one has, gratitude, helping others, being alone, quiet, taking a bath or a walk, being in nature…

Emma described her feelings of overwhelm as, “my mind becomes jumbled and louder.”  Her words certainly resonated as this is exactly how I feel as well when everything seems too much and feels more than I can cope with.  Then Emma typed, “there should be practice before it gets too jumbled.”  This then led to a discussion about meditation and how those who meditate regularly call it “practice” because it is something one does daily and can help when “the mind becomes jumbled and louder.”

At the end of a lengthy conversation Emma typed, “I do want to try meditation.” And so we will.

The Buddha with Merlin

The Buddha with Merlin

A Few Thoughts From Emma

“Today I will talk about the weather,”  Emma wrote.  Then she smiled and wrote, “That’s a joke.”

*Quick aside from Ariane.  Emma has referred to those who are well versed in cocktail party conversation as “weather talkers”.

“You’re funny,” Ariane said.

“Lean trains of thought provide rich moments of quiet peace.  Purposeful silence holds meaningful interconnection between like-minded souls.  Caring beings care in the silence as much or more as with words.   Now for a moment of silence.”

The view from the deck where we are staying

The view from the deck where we are staying

When Insights are Speculation

One of the things I’ve felt particularly confused by is why my daughter sometimes resists communicating.  My thinking has been – why would she resist doing the one thing that will help her get along in this world more than perhaps anything else?  The other day, I had a moment of clarity.  I came a step closer to “getting it”.  And now, I think I understand.  Not only do I think I understand, but I am able to identify and relate to that resistance, because, I realized, I do it too!  There are a number of things I resist doing, even while knowing that if I just did them I’d feel better and would be able to weather the vicissitudes of daily life a bit better.  I’d be happier, calmer, less anxious, and yet knowing this, intellectually understanding that this is true, does not make my resistance any less.

know being mindful and in the present gives me clarity and a sense of calm, I do not otherwise have.  I know this, and yet find it extremely difficult to be completely present for more than moments at a time.  My daughter has little problem with this.  In fact, Emma is far more comfortable in the moment than anywhere else.  I remember when we were inundated with therapists coming and going during those early years of fear and panic.  Richard and I used to comment on the irony that Emma was completely present and in the here and now far more easily than we were and yet we were constantly encouraging her to talk about tomorrow or yesterday or any number of other topics that had little to do with NOW.    We were pushing her to move away from the bliss of this moment to join us in the fear and anxiety of the non-present moment, all for the sake of the larger picture, which in our minds was to have her join us in our world.  Even though our world was fraught with expectations, hopes, dreams, wishes and the inevitable disappointment those things often bring.

We used to joke that if we could bottle what Emma came to naturally we would have no cause for worry.  And that really is the crux of most conversations.  They are usually not about the here and now.  They are almost always about some other time, some other idea, some other person, some other concern that is not now.  And yet…  

I resist being in the present and Emma resists being pulled out of it.   And yet, we non-Autistics continue to insist our world is better, or superior even as many spend thousands of dollars going on spiritual retreats, reading books about meditation and going to workshops to teach us how to “sit”.  So the question I am now asking myself is this:  Can I find the grey area of encouraging Emma to communicate with me, something that is difficult for her and pulls her from the bliss of now, while giving her plenty of time to be present and just be?  And what about my own resistance?  Can I learn to meet Emma in her blissful place of now and resist the urge to go off in my mind to somewhere else?

Of course there’s always a danger in interpreting my daughter’s behavior as any one thing.  Her resistance, like mine, is probably made up of many things, and this could be just one reason.  Or I may have this entirely wrong and her resistance is about something that hasn’t even occurred to me.  Or perhaps it isn’t resistance at all and is something else or I may find, next time we type together and when I ask her why, she will tell me something I hadn’t considered.  And that’s the beauty of all of this, I can’t and don’t know until she tells me.  Until then it’s just speculation and me projecting my stuff onto her.   So that’s more for me to be aware of – seeing when and if I do that and understanding that I am.

Henry and I sharing a moment of laughter at Emma’s antics

H & A

Entering Emma’s World

Early on I knew if I wanted to have a relationship with Emma I needed to enter her world as much as possible.  I tend to project – feelings, thoughts, abstract concepts – none of which are helpful.  Emma’s world does not include the kinds of “feelings” I tend to apply.

For example, upon much urging from Emma, we adopted a cat last November.  Emma rarely expresses a desire for things and so when she began asking to go to various animal shelters and saying, “Now take kitty home,” we felt we needed to oblige.  We went to a rescue shelter together and after about three hours left with Merlin, a black male, just under a year old.  I know Emma enjoys Merlin and is glad we brought him home.  She stopped asking to go to animal shelters or the pet store.  So whatever it was she wanted from having a cat of her own, Merlin has accomplished.  Yet it remains a mystery to the rest of us as to why she was so insistent on having a cat.  Particularly as now that we have one, she seems content that he has been brought into the fold, but by no means appears enamored by him as the rest of us have become.

If Merlin is sleeping in his favorite spot – the rocking chair – the single most coveted piece of furniture in our home, Emma will simply tip the chair over until he falls out.  Nic is horrified by her matter of fact actions and always cries out – “Poor Merlin!  She’s doing it again, Mom.”

Having removed Merlin, Emma then plops down into the rocking chair and proceeds to happily suck her thumb.  We attribute all sorts of “feelings” to her actions.  She doesn’t care about Merlin.  She doesn’t love him as we do.  And in Nic’s case – he feels she is “mean” to Merlin.  But to Emma, Merlin is occupying the place she wants to be and so he must be removed.  It’s pretty simple.  I don’t think she is thinking of Merlin’s feelings.  My guess is she cannot understand why the rest of us react the way we do.  “Poor Merlin!” we say and now she laughs and tips the chair at an even more precarious angle.

When Emma “plays” with Merlin she will whip his toy around her head, rather than try to engage him in play.  His toy is interesting to her, but the idea that it is his toy and one to be used to play with him is something Emma doesn’t seem to understand.  If one considers that “playing” for Emma is an abstract concept, one she does not come to easily then all of this starts to make more sense.  And yet, Emma continues to surprise us.  There are times when Emma clearly is playing with Merlin and enjoying it.  She will grab one of his “mice” which is attached to a string and run through the house, the mouse rocketing along behind her with Merlin hot on her heels.  She squeals with laughter as do I while watching her.  Emma is taking pleasure in something she loves to do – running – but is also taking pleasure in Merlin running too.  It suggests an awareness of “other” which denotes tremendous progress.

Friendships with her peers are not easy for Emma.  They are something she needs help with.    I believe she desires the interactions, but people are unpredictable, particularly young children.  Her head teacher recently sent home this photo of Emma holding hands, (unprompted by any adult) with her classmates while out on an outing.  It is wonderful to see.  (In this photo Emma is wearing a weighted dress, which her school encourages her to wear, as it calms her.)

Emma has a number of “friends” now, much to our pleasure and dismay.  But Emma does not play with her friends as a neuro-typical 8-year-old girl would.  There are no whispered “secrets” or friendship bracelets being exchanged.  She clearly cares deeply for a number of friends, but when they are thrown together she isn’t always sure what to do with them.  Her “best” friend is an adorable little boy named Ben and they often sit together during lunch, sometimes even hold hands.  I cannot begin to express the joy it gives me to know that Emma has a special friend, one whom she looks forward to seeing and wants to sit next to.  How she feels, what she thinks, I cannot begin to know.  What does “friend” mean to her?  I do not know.

In order to know Emma, one must try to toss aside any preconceptions about intent or feelings.  In fact, I have learned over the years, I must put aside all of what I think I “know” about human behavior and enter a state of “what is”.  “What is” =  my description of Emma’s mind.  There is no “good” or “bad” – it simply is.  If  one has ever attempted meditation one will know how difficult it is for most of us to enter a state of non-judgement.  A state of just being present.  People spend thousands of dollars and years of their life attempting to gain mastery over this “practice”.  Emma comes to it naturally.