“When I practice breathing in and I say, ‘I have arrived,’ that is an achievement. Now I am fully present, one hundred percent alive. The present moment has become my true home. When I breathe out I say, ‘I am home.’ If you do not feel you are home, you will continue to run. And you will continue to be afraid. But if you feel you are already home, then you do not need to run anymore. This is the secret of the practice. When we live in the present moment, it is possible to live in true happiness.” –Thich Nhat Hanh, “No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life”
Every Monday night I sit with my meditation group and practice breathing in and out in an attempt to calm my racing thoughts, to learn how my mind works, to remember that I have a body. I sit on a brown zafu cushion and breathe in and out, saying to myself, “I have arrived. I am home.” On the in breath: Arrived. On the out breath: Home.
This practice of breathing slowly in and out allows me to slow down, so I can stop running. So I can stop being afraid. So I can stop worrying. Often the fear and the worries rush back in after the meditation session is over, but doing the sitting helps me bring an essence of calm and a sense of being “home” into my daily life when I’m not on the cushion.
Having this capacity to slow down so I can be at home in myself has allowed me to trust that my autistic teen son is also at home in himself. It allows me the space to observe him closely and notice him for who he is, instead of trying to change him to be someone I want him to be, expect him to be, or that society expects him to be.
My autistic son has a rich and vivid inner life. I see him watch, listen, and notice. He uses spoken language and communicates well, yet I know there is much that he isn’t sharing because he can’t, or chooses not to. I know there are oceans inside of him that he isn’t revealing to anyone. Because of my meditation practice and spending time on the cushion, I’m able to watch him, listen to him, and notice.
Read full essay here at The Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism.
Photo © Stuart Anthony | Flickr/Creative Commons
[Image: Two backlit people attempting to jump over a horizon-adjacent sun.]