3 Mindfulness Practices for Neurodiverse Meditators

We don’t all meditate the identical approach—nor do we have to. Sue Hutton presents useful suggestions and practices, knowledgeable by the autism group, to make mindfulness apply actually accessible.

It’s vital to recollect, and to rejoice, that all of us have completely different brains and can all have distinctive responses to mindfulness practices. A few of us have brains which can be wired with increased interoceptive skills (simply feeling direct sensations within the physique), and a few are wired to simply see visible imagery in our thoughts’s eye. A few of us could have visceral reactions to sure sense-awareness practices, presumably being overloaded by auditory stimulation, or bodily sensations such because the tactile feeling of clothes on our pores and skin, or the sensation of our breath in our chest. The large take-away for all of us is that if you’re not getting someplace in a sure meditation apply, you’re not doing it “mistaken”—it could be simply the way you’re wired.

In case you are not getting someplace in a sure meditation apply, you’re not doing it “mistaken”—it could be simply the way you’re wired.  

To be able to be inclusive in mindfulness practices we have to know we will discover completely different anchor factors that can be extra aligned with our private neurology.  The overall spirit of mindfulness is one in all acceptance, which incorporates being current to all that arises by way of the six senses (eyes, ears, style, contact, physique, thoughts). Nonetheless, for these of us who’re wired to expertise sensory overload after we think about sure senses, we have to select anchor factors that we will apply focusing our focus on. You could get extra traction in your meditation apply with sure instruments. Keep in mind, it could differ from each day. 

Listed below are three examples of how adults within the neurodiverse group have helped inform the way in which I educate in autism-informed analysis teams, and for the broader group. 

Three Methods to Alter Mindfulness Teachings for the Neurodiverse Neighborhood

1. Say Farewell to the Bell 

It’s not essential to have a mindfulness bell or gong to ring as we begin and shut our meditation. I’m a traditionalist, and love ringing the bell thrice at closing, however I’ve discovered that the bell can create bodily ache to these with sensitivity to loud sounds. That is notably heightened with digital teams, the place the sound will be harsh over individuals’s audio system or earbuds. Listening apply will be achieved with many different sounds. 

2. Make Positive Your Language Is Clear

Mindfulness language is stuffed with metaphors that may be difficult for these on the spectrum. Autistic advisors have urged language in mindfulness instruction be concrete, clear, and direct. For instance, reasonably than beginning a apply with “I invite you to really feel the standard of your breath,” I begin with “Now I need you to concentrate to the breath you are feeling in your nostrils.” 

3. Recommend Alternate Focal Factors 

Since some individuals are uncomfortable with sensations in sure elements of the physique, I like to supply at the least three selections on what to carry consciousness on, not solely the breath. 

Some neurodiverse individuals say it’s far more soothing and a greater focus to focus on the sensations of the pulsing heartbeat than it’s the breath. If the heartbeat is most well-liked to deal with, one can strengthen their consciousness of it by beginning off with holding the breath for about 5 seconds on the finish of the in-breath to essentially really feel the heartbeat strongly. Then merely taking note of the locations within the physique the place the heartbeat is felt is an effective beginning apply. (For instance of neurodiversity, I’ve a really arduous time simply feeling my heartbeat, even with in depth focus. And I imagine I should have spent at the least 1000 hours in my early retreats attempting to find the sensation of my toe!)

With these three suggestions in thoughts, listed below are a number of examples of mindfulness practices that use completely different sense anchors. Rejoice your individual neurodiversity, and use what’s best for you. As with all mindfulness instruments, as soon as you discover what works greatest for you, deliver some light and compassionate focus to essentially give the mediation all of your consideration. You’re price it. 

Three Follow Decisions: Sound, Motion, or Physique Consciousness of Breath 

1. Sound Breath Consciousness

  • Maintain your hand up in entrance of your mouth and exhale on the palm of your hand, with a pleasant and loud “haaah,” identical to you would possibly breathe sizzling air in your glasses to scrub them. 
  • Consider the sound of your breath. Now shut your mouth and proceed, with the loud sound of your breath. Sustain the respiration so you possibly can hear the exhalation in addition to the inhalation. Shut your eyes if that’s comfy. 
  • Make the breaths lengthy and easy, sustaining the sound so you possibly can hear. Hear intently with all of your focus. The sound could also be just like the sound of the ocean tide, flowing out and in. 
  • Proceed to focus all of your consideration on the sound of your respiration for the subsequent 5-10 breaths. Let the sound be your anchor. 

2. Motion Breath Consciousness

The Lotus breath apply is a concrete approach of specializing in the breath that gives an anchor with motion. 

  • Merely maintain one in all your palms in entrance of you. Think about it’s a stunning lotus flower that opens within the day, and closes at evening. 
  • Open and shut your hand slowly, feeling the sensations of the hand opening and shutting, identical to a lotus flower. 
  • Now, breath in time with the opening and shutting. Breathe in whereas your hand opens, and breathe out whereas your hand closes. Concentrate on this for 5-10 breaths. 

3. Physique Breath Consciousness

  • Attempt laying a hand in your stomach and one in your chest. See should you can really feel the rising and falling of your palms resting in your physique. 
  • Subsequent, attempt to focus full consciousness on simply the stomach rising and falling. 
  • Then, shift that to the chest. Can you are feeling motion there? Stick with that motion for 5-10 breaths. 

Let your college students know they’ll assess which anchor helps them greatest, after which attempt to maintain consciousness for longer.  

Growing extra inclusive instructing practices can go an extended approach to making mindfulness accessible, particularly for communities of neurodiversity.
Learn Extra 

  • Sue Hutton
  • October 8, 2020

The subsequent step towards deepening your mindfulness apply could also be discovering a trainer that may give you new insights. In our easy-to-use information, we’ve outlined what to search for in a mindfulness trainer, and the best way to discover the suitable one for you.
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  • Aware Employees
  • September 21, 2020

It’s not all the time the case that our formal mindfulness apply carries seamlessly into each day life—particularly in conversations that spark pressure. Shalini Bahl-Milne presents a apply that will help you make sure you will be mindfully current for these tough moments.
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