The Limits of Mindfulness

It rained all Saturday, and Sunday morning, and around eleven I walked into the garden, under my umbrella, into that clear light of high sun diffused by cloud which is excellent for photography, in search of an apple. The tips of the branches of the fir tree were a grey-blue, and I paid it attention because I had not seen one like that before. Either it was diseased, or it was a different subspecies, but I saw it as beautiful simply because I saw it in that Mindful way. I have practised mindfulness for years, so that I can fall into it, and it still gives the things I see, and even the light I see them in, an intensity I find beautiful. I walked to the apple tree, communing with my surroundings, and lightly pressed apples until one fell into my hand.

That fir distracted me from my task, and from the group. Or, I had time; or, it helped me descend into the state of presence, which would help me be in that group. I looked at it, and took pleasure mixed with doubt- is it sick?- without knowing why. I just did.

I should not have agreed to that Occupational Health report. She phoned me for half an hour, patronised me, told me things I knew, suggested my room was untidy because I have bad habits not because I am depressed (there’s a lot to unpack in that, and in my reaction to it) and wrote a report saying there was nothing wrong with me. Please look at doing Mindfulness exercises. This website offers 6 exercises to try daily. Mindfulness can help reduce daily stresses and balance the mind and body which may be helpful as you move forward into work.

Lucie asked me what I thought of that. I wasn’t meeting her eyes at all, that session; I said nothing, and closed mine. It is not that I don’t want to participate, but that I can’t see anything of value to say.

“You look like you were doing it then,” she said. Yes. She is perceptive. I don’t do mindfulness exercises because if I kneel in my ritual space my anguish may explode over me, and I fear that. And I want to advance my own interests, and I feel I am less capable of that in Mindful Presence than when I am in the endless internal debate, conflicted, concerned with appearances- only how things appear to myself, not how they appear to others.

Shortly after, she said “Shall we arrange another appointment?”, bringing this one to an end. I had been resisting begging to just go. It was twenty minutes short of the hour.

I don’t have the luxury of liking myself. I might have been in that Mindful Present state- or that aspect which I think of as my Real Me, my Emotional Bit, possibly my Inner Light though that would make the Light strange indeed, not virtuous according to my conception of virtue-

when I was begging the other day. I was begging. I abased myself. Please don’t let that happen. Please delay that. I was speaking in the high voice I sometimes use with Tina; I was articulate, putting forth arguments (this is why it’s good from your point of view arguments). He went away to check. He could not decide to grant my wish. He could not even ask the one who should decide, to grant it. But it’s delayed, often, anyway, by weeks or months. “You can ask when it happens,” he said, encouragingly. “Don’t worry twice- deal with it when you have to.” I liked him. That did not stop me thinking after he had been trying to catch me out, and had succeeded.

So there I was. Acting in my interests as I best see them. Failing. And that might have come out of my integrity.

Memory bothers me. I had talked to A before, just not remembered it. How to get people to stick in my mind? It was only six months ago.

5 thoughts on “The Limits of Mindfulness

  1. Perhaps, instead of talking to people who appear to have an agenda, you might prefer to write to them? You might make that point, that you can relate clearly – and have time to plan – when you write. I have been there, so I know this has been entirely true for me. Spoken words are misleading, often casual and lacking that thought that will make the speaker understood… ((xxx))

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  2. I have a tendency to agree, or at least not disagree, with people when in conversation. It’s not that I actually agree with them. I cannot formulate, in a timely manner, the sentences necessary to express my own opinion or to counter their argument. Words that might seem logical and reasonable when I first hear them, often change into something else after I have time to digest them. I find writing more useful as I can rewrite and rewrite until I’m satisfied my message is clear. I do not like to be in a position where I need to formulate thoughts into words and sentences, and utter them simultaneously. Likewise, I have more time to interpret the written word than I do the spoken word.

    I was once told I needed mindfulness training as a means to cope with my migraines. But by halfway through the second session, the coach concluded that there was nothing she could teach me. To this day, I’m not sure whether it was because I already practised it 24/7, or because I’m incapable of practising mindfulness at all 🙂

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    • I am not the person to talk to about autism and mindfulness, but it might be worth checking out. Mindfulness changes the brain waves of NTs. Autistic people have different brain waves. I find mindfulness increases my awareness of sensory input- perhaps not to your levels, but significantly.

      How do you cope with conversation with family? You have so much of value to say! I could imagine waiting patiently to let you formulate your thoughts into words, just as I would take action to facilitate communication in other circumstances.

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      • Yes, I suspect the mindfulness coach didn’t understand that many Aspies can be overwhelmed by external sensory input, but at the same time are less aware of internal input such as emotions or pain.

        Even within our family, I find it difficult to know when I can enter (and exit) a conversation thread. In some ways the family has collectively, but probably unconsciously, made adaptations by introducing pauses into conversation to allow me to join in. It’s often accompanied by everyone turning their heads in my direction to indicate they’d like my input. Unfortunately that practice goes out the window if a discussion is emotionally charged.

        Other times, we seem to enter discussions that appear to be a family version of a Quaker Meeting for Business. Perhaps that’s why I feel so much at home with the Friends 🙂

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