Neurodivergent practicioners in need of peers or possibly light coaching?

Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 1 Month ago.

Neurodivergent practicioners in need of peers or possibly light coaching?

Posts: 5375 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Hi there!

I'm a practicioner with an atypically wired brain, as I'm autistic and have ADHD and Tourette syndrome. 
In my practice I have in many ways found that I need to approach things from a somewhat different angle than the more typically wired practicioners, and from what I have heard, I'm not alone in that. I find that my wiring can actually often be an advantage with regard to the practice in some ways. At the same time, the lack of common ground can also be frustrating at times when trying to delve into the depths and subtleties of the practice together with other practicioners, albeit also fascinating. Now my teacher Michael Taft is prompting me to start something, some kind of networking, to adress this niche, as he thinks I have important experiences to share. It would be my dana. I'm thinking that some form of peer support might be mutually rewarding. I don't know exactly how that would take shape. I guess it's an open question. I would be happy to just chat in whatever form would be suitable, if there's anyone who'd find that helpful. Too bad that the pm function doesn't work at this forum. Feel free to reach out here or in my practice log if interested or if you have questions about it. 

Best wishes for your practice and wellbeing,
​​​​​​​Linda, aka Polly Ester
This sounds like a great idea. Meditation is very personal, and there are far too few resources that speak to different types of people.

​​​​​​​Could you summarize what benefits your unique experiences would bring to other practitioners?
Ni Nurta, modified 1 Month ago.

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I have synesthesia thus probably in some sense I would also fall under this category.
But obviously there is no single exception to the norm and I would assume neurodivergent is just everything which differs from the average/typical configuration so while there might be some differences there might be people who are neurodivergent that are so completely different from each other that the difference between neurodivergent and the average human pales in comparison...

There might be something to it, especially if your teacher is prompting this, though for now I fail to see how that could work and how it could be helpful.

But let's wait see if this idea bear any fruits emoticon
Not sure if I would qualify as neurodivergent or not, but I have always found your practice both interesting and helpful, please keep me in the loop for whatever you end up doing! 
(If it ends up being somewhere outside of DhO, I'll send you my email)

​​​​​​​Best wishes and buena suerte.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 29 Days ago.

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Thankyou Spatial! Summarizing stuff isn't my strongest suit, but here goes:

I find that coming from a different angle, I have often needed to translate the dharma to what makes sense for me and triangulate many different kinds of pointers. That has given me something of a fluidity with picking up on lingo and on what a method does and how it relates to other methods. I'm sure I'm not alone in that, especially not here, but the way I see it, comparing notes is usually helpful, and the greater variety with regard to starting points, the more accurate the triangulation. 

Coming from a different angle sometimes means that pointers and instructions are a misfit, like when they aim at deconstructing the solidity of something that has never been solid for you whatsoever. Worst case scenario, that can be harmful. Best case scenario, it sends you on a detour that isn't entirely pointless because there's usually at least something to learn from anything, but not what you really needed at that point. I find that the awareness of this among dharma communities and teachers is lacking, and apparently so does Michael who knows that context much better than I do. When I have tried to raise such issues in different dharma contexts, all too often it hasn't seemed to be taken seriously. I know I'm not alone in that experience. Now I know that even within a specific diagnosis, there is a great diversity, so I'm not under any illusion that we would all undergo the same journey - I'm with you there, Ni Nurta. I do think most of us would share an openness to the differences and an awareness of the diversity, which would perhaps make it easier to explore the quirks of one's own journey without feeling questioned, or without having people around you feel questioned because you didn't take up their advice and your way of respectfully trying to save their time didn't translate. 

Something like that. 

Now, I'm not very keen on starting a new forum or anything like that. I find it hard to keep up with more than one at a time. I have had the ambition to follow multiple ones, and that hasn't worked for me. If anything comes out from this, I need to keep it small and managable. Like maybe just chatting on single occasions, one on one or in a small group, when there's a need for it. I'm actually in the process of changing my email address, which I have been procrastinating for a long time because of all the contacts that need to be alerted, so maybe I'll just put my new address here when it's done. 
Thankyou JW! I'm honored. 
i just wonder how you relate to 'being autistic', 'having ADHD' and 'having tourette syndrome'...  I guess you cope but you seem to be acutely aware of it.

to me these are all behaviours, brains are plastic, and we can all adapt, behaviour is a choice, whether or not it's an easy one.

when did you first have these realisations, have things changed since then or not?
are these thing measurable on a scale of 1-10 or are they binary?

(i'm just trying to understand what you mean here)

me i'm so autistic* that i will argue about whether or not I'm more unique than someone else.  if you have experiences to share well maybe they matter in your context, but for someone more unique than yourself & in a different context how so? (bounce this back to MT perhaps?)

* i can do that stuff but its not 'me', yet sometime's it's fun
apolgies Linda

I'm so dumb, some of my questions were a bit personal so please don't feel any need to reply esp in public

​​​​​​​It's not easy is it?
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 29 Days ago.

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Well, genaro, I don't know what you mean by being acutely aware. I just know that it makes a difference, and that has been the case throughout my practice, but in different ways over time. Michael has emphasized more than once that my ways of navigating it might be useful to share, and that my ways of communicating it in context might resonate. I'm getting out of my comfort zone here to do at least something to honor his generosity towards me (three scholarships by now). I don't really believe that any monologues from me would do the trick, but would much rather have dialogues with people about their own experiences and the challenges they are dealing with. Maybe as we develop common ground in that dialogue, we could inspire each other, and people could find each other (not just me). I'm thinking that if someone finds that it wasn't helpful for them, it's not like they are stuck with me or the group, you know. It's totally optional. I don't know if that answers your questions. 
George S, modified 28 Days ago.

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I think it's great what you are doing Linda. You clearly have a unique talent for communicating with people in "non-standard" ways. Too bad the PM function doesn't work on here - there may well be people who want to reach out to you in private. If you could share your email that would be great. If you're not comfortable doing that, you can "easily" create an anonymous free email which just forwards to your main one so you don't need to check it separately!
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 28 Days ago.

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Thankyou, George. I will post an email address as soon as I can promise that I will check it.

Maybe I should mention some specifics that may or may not be relevant for other neurodivergent practicioners. 
- Sensory experiences might differ radically.
- Socially constructed concepts that many people take for granted may never have made sense to begin with.
- More "basic" concepts such as time and space may be vague and unsolid too, which affects one's relationship with the world at a fundamental level.
​​​​​​​- Some aspects of a maturing practice that advanced practicioners talk about (some as cool features, others as a major mindfuck on the path) have been part of my experience since childhood, for good and for bad. Before I read about those features, I had no idea that they weren't the default experience for the majority. 
- Suddenly finding validation for some of one's experiences after decades of pathologization may involve a grieving process.
- Realizing that even though one's experiences are valid, and the stuff that didn't make sense was just constructions, it doesn't automatically help that much with daily life: yet another grieving process, and lots of work remaining (construction rather than deconstruction), not to mention all the entangled trauma that comes with lifelong stress which may surface in the practice. 
- What is generally considered diffucult might sometimes be easier, whereas what is generally considered easy might be challenging. 
Daniel Mon, modified 26 Days ago.

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Hi @lindaorulv ! Glad I found this thread! I have Tourette Syndrome too! And also anxiety, ADHD, OCD...

In my experience feeling the emotions, and even the thoughs, as they somatise in my body has helped me a lot. Trying to feel which parts of my body responded to the arising of each emotion was actually crucial to bring me to the A&P (or that's how I see it in retrospect), and is a crucial part of my practice now. It just makes it so much easier to see emotions, thoughs, volitions as simple objects of the mind, objects that you can so easily feel in your body. I think that this has played to my advantage. 

Additionally, I did post a while ago about me experiencing the A&P event only after I was diagnosed and had started to take a (very low) dose of ADHD stimulants (metilphenidate/Concerta 36mg). It turns out that the ability to concentrate does help while cultivating concentration! ;)

Have experienced anything like that at all?

Cheers, Daniel.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 26 Days ago.

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Hi Daniel! Wow, hearing from other practicioners with Tourette's is rare. How interesting! I have anxiety issues too, and I definitely had OCD as a child although I was never diagnosed with it (the remaining tendencies for it are subtle and hidden and wouldn't qualify for a separate diagnosis). Fascinating to hear that manifestations in the body have been as central for you as they have for me. Yes, I believe that our Tourette's means that we lack filters that typically wired practicioners need to drill through (a function of the basal gangliae?). That's a lot of lowhanging fruit right there. I have a hard time imagining what it would be like not to feel all that stuff so clearly. 

Oh, now I have a chance to test a hypothesis on a fellow ticcer! I've been dying to do this. I have observed that for me personally, the tics seems to be a defense mechanism of the ego that it applies in order to maintain the illusion of solidity (of itself and the world). When I manage to not engage with the tics, things dissolve. It's like vibrational coming into being without full form is the default, and I very litterally have to tense up in order to maintain the illusion of solidity. That's not just poetical pointers, but literally true. So this could mean that Tourette's is really a lack of automaticity in keeping up the illusion at a subconscious level. That's not really a problem. The tics are just the usual escape to ignorance that most people do all the time, but in a more manual version. The ego has to play us with compulsion in order to make us do it. How does that resonate with your experience? 

As for A&P, I think I may have had that regularly as a kid, and I had forceful and decapacitating Kundalini issues before I got my diagnoses, but ADHD medication definitely helps with the practice because it allows my brain to get some rest. It is very likely that I wouldn't have reached stream entry without it. Thanks for the reminder! I have been unemployed for several months now and lost routines that helped me to take medications regularly. No wonder my mind is distracted. For me it seems like meditation has been most fruitful during times when the medicines have left the system but while relaxing from having been fully medicated at office hours, and on a regular basis, if that makes any sense. I need to medicate properly, but with the medz full on, there's maybe a little too much beta wave activity. I don't know. Microdosing it doesn't seem to work, so I think it might be more about making better (more balanced) habits, which is so much easier to do with medz. 
Hi Linda, so I finally found some time to properly answer this.

For me the tics are a way to escape. I remember this movie I saw in which one character was self harming herself, making cuts in her legs, and someone tells her that it was a way of escaping a deeper emotional pain, the physical pain took her away from the deeper trauma that she had experienced (in that fiction movie). That did resonate strongly about it. For instance I have some coprolalia, I would not express coprolalia if I'm aware of others present, I have a degree of control over it, but it happens frequently when I'm alone (or when I think I'm alone, but thats another story). The fact that I have some control over it, and that it is such a distinctive and intense tic, has allowed me to investigate what happens right before it happens. What happens 95% of the times is that a memory of something embarrasing or stressful comes to my mind, and the word in a way takes me away from that though and brings me back to the very present moment. I know consider coprolalia as self-harm, and as self-harm that I inflict upon myself to get away from an emotion that I can't handle well.

This does not fit that well with other tics though, other tics increase when I am more anxious but are not necessarily preceded by any specific though, more like from some unconcious nervousness. For instance while on retreat I tend to have increased tics for a day or two, and then they go down slowly until they dissappear and I can go for days without a single tic. I think that equanimity kills them because you might feel a premonitory sensation but you don't react to it just like you don't react to anything, just see it arise and pass. It's not like repressing it, it just doesn't even feel like a premonitory sensation.

Does that ring a bell with you?

So glad I can share this with someone who understands! Check the Slack group (post below) and perhaps the conversation could be more fluent!

Cheers, Dani
Daniel Mon, modified 25 Days ago.

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Hi Linda. Wow, so much to talk about! Well, I haven't changed path, thus I can only help you until somewhere into early equanimity. Would love to have a chat though! 
Hope to talk to you soon! Daniel
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 25 Days ago.

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I'd love to talk too, Daniel. Just so you know, I have this very messed up resistance to opening my emails at the moment (it's an anxiety thing), so if it takes too long, feel free to remind me either here or in my log. I have made a screen dump so now I have your email address. I'll try to send you a list of all different ways to contact me. 
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 14 Days ago.

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Bumping this for Nico.
Nicolas Epstein, modified 13 Days ago.

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Hi Linda, and everyone else,

It's interesting to read all of these, but it's difficult for me to relate (story of my life!). Unlike some of you, my autistic diagnosis is extremely recent; about 2 months. And to be perfectly honest I'm still not fully convinced it's actually correct, although my partner hasn't a shred of doubt! I'm slowly coming around, but so far, the diagnosis hasn't really explained anything, or made anything much clearer for me, as I know it does for many people on the spectrum.

One aspect of the diagnosis that does resonate, and that I already touched on with Linda, is the fact of being used to being extremely detached from bodily sensations and emotions. I think this perceived distance between "me" and the sensual world definitely has had some consequences in my understanding and practice of spiritual teachings. I've been interested in the stuff for a long time, even though a lot of it seem to fly way over my head. In the same way I don't "get" a lot of social cues and have a hard time relating with the description a lot of people make of their inner world, I think it's similarly difficult for me get a foothold in the descriptions of spiritual experiences. There seems to be a barrier there.

I still have a whole lot of experimenting to do (I do plan on responding to your generous post on the other thread, Linda, but I want to give your advice a good tryout before I do so) and I'm really happy to have found you lot!

I would also be super interested in messaging you privately, Linda. I have so many questions, and I feel I've always done much better engaging with people on a direct one-on-one basis. I have no problem posting my email here, if that's something you would be interested in as well.
This is very interesting and encouraging Nicolas. I think that the distancing that you describe could be seen as a difficulty OR as an opportunity. I might be the opposite, perhaps because of my Tourette but I have high phisical sensitivity, I feel intensely, so to speak,both at the emotional and the physical level, and working on phisical sensations and investigating how they arise and they pass has helped me a lot. I know everyone investigates this at some point, but for me, perhaps because I somatise anxiety so strongly in the body, focusing my attention on how anxiety is reflected in my body, and focusing on those parts, and seeing what happens in there while I scan my body is my main way to work through meditations. I used it to my advantage, so to speak, but in the past these phisical sensations were a hindrance to my pracice, I though they were "distracting me" from the focus on the breathing and the ensuing conflict wasn't good for meditation. Only when I embraced them I transformed them into an opportunity for learning.

I wonder if your distancing and detachment from the sensual world could be used to your advantage too. Either by embracing them or simply by making it very easy for you to observe them equanimously. Or in the opposite direction, if other mental objects are more prominent then focusing on those? What if you focus directly on thoughs or emotions? It might be more challenging but perhaps worth it. What is your preferred/main object of meditation?

Cheers, Daniel.
Dan Latner, modified 13 Days ago.

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I would love to chat with you about this.  daniel.latner (at)

I was a "secular" meditator who enjoyed my first Goenka Vipassana retreat but didn't feel anything. A 10% Happier episode helped me realize I am a poster-child of ADD and I got on Dexedrine. Life improved.

Last summer I read Gabor Mate's "Scattered Minds", which made me feel like I was from this planet for the first time. It completely rearranged my sense of self, and I realized "I have psychology".  My consciousness was really weird for a week, and then I had some sort of event that felt like an old-timey revelation. It blew me away, but also seemed funny that this existed and nobody had really told me. I did a bunch of research as to what that was, asked a friend who was more into the Dharma than me and he told me it might be "Stream Entry". 

Now that I know about map theory, I get that it was A&P. It seems weird to the extent to which the dropping of the 3 fetters describes my experience after - though I could be misunderstanding what that means - but I can't do all sorts of other stream enter stuff like perceive cycles of insight. I was talking with friends at the time, and I do remember a little "click" when I shifted into this state, but I don't think it was cessation.

I ended up in the emergency ward for trying to bring it to the attention of a neuroscientist, which I still maintain was rational. They said I was manic (true, but only the fun parts) and delusional for maintaining that non-dual states exist. I brought in a computer loaded up with scientists who talk about this kind of stuff, but they just said "We're doing psychiatry, what you are talking about doesn't exist".

I wrote up the story here. This is a friend-link so it should be unlocked.

I would love to connect with other neurodivergent practitioners. It's been a challenge figuring out that I have ADD and probably light ASD, and also that "I" don't exist! Thank you for your initiative.
Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 11 Days ago.

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This is awesome! I promise that I will get back to this with more thorough replies and also share my contact details for different platforms to those who have given me their email. In the meantime I'll follow George's advice and offer an anonymous email address: dessiebelle (at) I'm in the process of changing from a job mail address (to my former job) that I've had for 19 years to a new one at my own domain, but I'm a slow adjuster and haven't gotten around to using the new one yet. That antique hotmail address doesn't contain anything job related so it's easier to find new messages in it. 

I really appreciate people sharing in this thread. Thankyou! 
@lindaorulv @squishy @spatial @ninurta @jwood @genaro and others whose usertag I couldn't work out (still not used to this interface). 

I just created a Slack discussion group which I think is more flexible for discussions and allows for individual and group calls if we wish to talk too. Please feel free to join in this link:

Dan I added you already since your email was provided, I hope is OK. Anyone else please feel free to join the conversation. It would be nice to organise a videocall and everything if this group takes off!

Cheers, Daniel.