Meditation For Aspies
My room is where I love to get some meditation done. For an Aspie there are many methods and ways to bring about the calming of the nervous system, the relinquishment of unwholesome thoughts, dispulsion of anxiety, or even cultivation of mental discipline. But first and foremost, my "set and setting" is my room: "The Room."
I love the claustrophilic coziness of my room. My room gives me a refuge from the cacophony of the city; my room brings me comfort and safety the likes of which I could not possibly find anywhere else in this world.
For Aspies our room is our home. Leaving it means traveling to a foreign country. As I sit in the quietness of the insulation, I still gaze out my window and appreciate the golden sun set. The beams flow into my entire domicile, brightening all the walls and objects in lucid brilliance. Just enjoying that moment is enough.
Don't let images of an exotic oriental lotus posture be conjectured in your minds. I'm no wishy-washy, otherworldly, and outlandishly spiritualistic New Age guru, but I love a nice deep contemplation in the aloneness in my room. All that common talk of "mindfulness" and "staying in the moment" are all and good - and I certainly concur with those - however, for Aspies, remaining in the moment-by-moment awareness of our minds and bodies, however calming and wholesome, is simply not enough. Following the breaths in the process of inhalation and exhalation, or counting them may be a formidable feat of mental discipline but it has its own limitations. Let me explain.
For Aspies, we can't just shut off our thoughts and stay focused "in the moment." We cannot just curb our minds from forming thoughts, concepts and ideas as is the goal of meditation - whether it's called "mindfulness" or "zen;" We cannot just relinquish our self-stimulatory repetitive behaviours (i.e. "stimming") because these are the very tendencies and proclivities of our autistic brains. Shutting off our so-called running thoughts would be to shut off the vital part of ourselves; quieting our "discriminating intellect" is stifling to us; getting rid of our obsessiveness is definitely not the autistic way; stilling our stims takes away our self-soothing mechanisms which are both natural and necessary to us; likewise, remaining in the "here and now" rather than "then and there" is very limiting to us - in fact, many times the Aspie mind needs to dwell in both dimensions, sometimes even simultaneously: because hey, this is autism.
So, the above form of meditation, however beneficial in certain ways, can be something not-very-wholesome to us, since creative thinking and endless thought processing is the very heart of who we are: the autistic mind inclines towards ideations, mental conceptions and abstractions, analysis, mentation, creativity, and forming notions through the intellect. These are the very life-blood of the autistic mentality. we cannot afford to dispense with those essential components of ourselves.
This sort of meditation is good for neurotypicals whose minds are diffused all over the place, and who lack a focused mind. Do we really need that form of meditation then? I mean if there is one great strength we Aspies have is our single-pointed mind. Our mind obsesses and fixates insatiably, we don't need any special effort to get our minds concentrated in one thing, for we already excel in that very thing. If the goal of meditation is to bring the mind into "single-pointed mindedness" as the Dalai Lama preaches, then we don't need it because we already have that quality.
Therefore, living and placing our minds outside of our autistic boundaries is disrespectful to ourselves and it will only take us to the brink of a severe autistic burnout or even a meltdown.
Ahh, so what forms of meditations can be of benefit to us? Well, like I said, the above meditation can be good for us, taken in moderate and appropriate measure. I, for instance, like to do some mindful meditation - or a form of zazen - through following my breath before I go to sleep sometimes - though I like to do this lying down in my bed rather than sit in the cliched lotus posture we see in popular culture.
I find chanting or mantras to be more up our alley since they can be used as excellent stimming tools - and they are to an autistic. I used to chant repetitive phrases to calm myself down when I was a kid and sometimes even in my adulthood. So anything vocal or repetitive is good.
I also heard of monks and nuns and even charismatic Pentecostal Christians rocking back and forth to induce calm and even a form of a trance. That sure works for us since rocking back and forth is instinctive to us.
Concentrating all our energies on single thought, image, or idea that we're obsessed with or are especially interested in (e.g. our special interest topic) can also be construed as a form of meditation. Visualization can also accomplish that end for those who are able to mentally visualize vividly and naturally.
Pacing around the house or some enclosure where we can make rounds and circumambulations are also good form of meditation for autistics - something else that both naturally stems from autistic brain and also that is practiced by meditators in many different traditions (cf. "walking meditation" in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Christian monasticism).
What I especially like is what's called "body scan" where I lay still in bed, relaxing every muscle in my body through concentrated effort while keeping my mind alert and awake - sometimes this could induce what's called an "out-of-body-experience" or as I like to call it astral projection. Lucid dreaming is also another form of this type of meditation.
I could certainly go on for hours. When dealing with meditation it is important for Aspies to keep the above information in mind. You do not want to do anything that would go against your basic neurology. Respect your habits and tendencies, know that there is nothing you can do to thwart your autistic brain. We must rather harness it, strengthen it, and expand on it. By being more of ourselves is better than running away from it or masking it. Remember, stimming itself is a form of meditation so consider yourselves master meditators already!