Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Andi idnA 1/21/24 10:31 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Chris M 1/21/24 8:39 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Andi idnA 1/21/24 9:21 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate 1/21/24 10:02 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Andi idnA 1/21/24 10:16 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Chris M 1/22/24 8:05 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Chris M 1/22/24 7:44 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Chris M 1/21/24 9:35 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions ‎ ‎Nihila 1/21/24 4:30 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Derek2 1/21/24 10:22 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Olivier S 1/21/24 11:16 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Chris M 1/21/24 11:18 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Martin 1/21/24 12:12 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate 1/22/24 12:14 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Andi idnA 1/22/24 9:10 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Derek2 1/22/24 10:12 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Derek2 1/21/24 12:53 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Chris M 1/21/24 1:53 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate 1/21/24 3:36 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Chris M 1/21/24 4:21 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Derek2 1/22/24 2:57 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate 1/22/24 4:44 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Martin 1/22/24 11:22 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate 1/21/24 3:48 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Andi idnA 1/22/24 9:55 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Derek2 1/23/24 12:54 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions ‎ ‎Nihila 1/23/24 2:32 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Bahiya Baby 1/23/24 2:47 AM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Chris M 1/23/24 7:49 AM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate 1/22/24 12:23 PM
RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions Chris M 1/25/24 7:58 AM
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Andi idnA, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 10:31 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 7:31 AM

Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 7 Join Date: 10/23/23 Recent Posts
Brief summary of my post:
* Introducing myself (33-year-old guy, diagnosed with ADHD, probably autism)
* Meditation experience
- Significant experience with off-cushion mindfulness daily
- Limited formal meditation experience; difficulty establishing a routine due to ADHD symptoms; described as "meditation sucks"
- Engaged in formal practice for half a year after starting ADHD medication
- Enjoying significant benefits and suffering from side effects despite low dose of meditation
* Questions on my mind
- A) Can meditation exacerbate symptoms related to neurodivergence? Specifically, concerns about social withdrawal, sensory overstimulation, and emotional regulation.
- B ) Given my situation, which meditation techniques would you recommend?
- C) Could you share experiences regarding the combination of stimulants/ADHD medications and meditation? Activating the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems seems potentially dangerous at first glance.
- D) Can Vipassana worsen ADHD symptoms, leading to an even more scattered mind?"

Hello DharmaOverground,

I'm new here and wanted to introduce myself briefly. I'm Andi, a 33-year-old father and husband from Germany. I'm a trained Chemical-Technical Assistant and aspiring teacher for Chemistry and Social Sciences. My interests lie in psychology, philosophy, neurology, spirituality (from a pragmatic perspective), and anything related to human experiences. If I had to describe myself with one word, it would be "curious." Oh, and for fun, I love playing Pen&Paper role-playing games. I'm consistently drawn to and fascinated by meditation. I want to understand what we are.

While exploring this forum, I noticed at least one other neurodiverse person who might help me with my questions. Instead of reaching out directly, I prefer to post my questions in the forum, hoping for additional perspectives.

On one hand, I see that meditation helps me in some aspects of my life, but in other aspects, I'm afraid its harmful. I lack the experience to assess and categorize the positive and negative effects.

Another complicating factor: I have been diagnosed with ADHD-I, and it's likely that I also have autism. I doubt that meditation instructions from most teachers are suitable and safe for neurodiverse individuals.

My experiences with meditation:
> For about 10 years, I've been practising turning off autopilot in daily life and being aware as long and often as possible. The past 3 years, I've intensified this everyday mindfulness practice.
> It took me a long time to establish a regular sitting meditation routine (ADHD symptoms).
> About 2 years ago, I succeeded: I started with 20 seconds on the first day, then 40 seconds, then 60... This way, I managed to incorporate 30 minutes of Samatha meditation daily. During this time, I never experienced altered states of calm, happiness, or concentration. ADHD. Meditation felt terrible, always. However, outside the meditation cushion, the effects were surprisingly significant: increased attention to daily life, better ability to approach my own feelings with a kind of loving distance towards myself. Unfortunately, there was also an increase of my sensory sensitivity, and for the first time in my life, I saw a hallucination: a ghost spider crawling on the ceiling. Fascinating. Concerning.
> For about half a year, I've been taking the ADHD medication Vyvanse. During this time, I meditate 60-90 minutes daily, along with short attention exercises throughout the day. I start every morning with self-applied Internal Family Systems Therapy, followed by Metta meditation. In cases of sensory overload and emotional pain, I practice Vipassana (it grounds and calms me more successfully than concentration meditation). Occasionally, I use TM meditation to fall asleep quickly and restfully.

A) I've noticed similarities between the characteristics of neurodiverse individuals and possible effects of prolonged meditation practice. I list a few examples, some of which apply to me (was always wired this way, not due to meditation):
> Reduced ego/self-concept
> Altruistic actions, helpfulness, honesty, directness
> Contentment, renunciation, difficulty in being interested and motivated for the "outside world"
> High degree of introspection and self-reflection
> Sensitivity (for example, in social situations, allowing "empaths" to feel the social mood)
> Ability for extreme concentration
> Social withdrawal, sometimes voluntary
> Changes in sensory perception
> Seeing things that cannot be touched
I recognize many of the above characteristics in myself. Unfortunately, there's a problem: My life is far from free of pain, suffering, and dissatisfaction.

I can interpret this observation positively and negatively: Perhaps neurodiverse individuals are closer to the necessary "brain structures" that could lead to becoming happier. Or, the Buddhist promise of less suffering has little to do with the mentioned characteristics and underlying brain structures. This is where my concerns, doubts, and questions about whether meditation is right for me arise:

A1) Lack of motivation for material things and social status might be my biggest problem. Only successful social relationships give me a sense of "meaning" and "drive." Unfortunately, the more I delve into the workings of our minds, the more alienated I feel from society. I notice that my social relationships are increasingly suffering from this alienation. At the same time, I feel deep love and responsibility for my child and wife. To prevent them from becoming unhappy, I must achieve a minimum level of performance to provide material security. I fear that meditation may make me even more self-satisfied and withdrawn, causing me to lose motivation and potentially harm my loved ones. Can intensive meditation practice have this effect? Are there antidotes to this danger? Why does one monk engage with the world and dedicate his life to social projects, while another seeks happiness in a lonely cave? I'm afraid of taking the latter path because I sense these tendencies in myself and suspect that meditation could amplify them.

A2) I suffer from sensory hypersensitivity and associated outbursts of anger. Particularly unexpected or loud noises flow from my ear through my body like a painful electric shock. Over time, this wears me down and eventually leads to explosive anger. On one hand, meditation and especially mindfulness in daily life help me notice and manage anger outbursts early. On the other hand, my sensory hypersensitivity seems to worsen month by month through meditation. I fear that hypersensitivity could eventually overwhelm me. On bad days, it hurts just to be in this body. The feeling of my T-shirt on my skin hurts. The sound of my own breath hurts, etc. It feels like I've opened the floodgates of my sensory organs too wide before learning to deal with this flood. Now I can't close them again. How should I handle this? When/how does this condition improve? Does it?

A3) Due to increased hypersensitivity, my ability to regulate emotions seems to have worsened rather than improved. (Emotional) pain feels more intense, omnipresent. I would expect that meditation would enhance both the perception of pain and the ability to cope with it. Unfortunately, the former seems to progress much faster than the latter. How should I interpret this experience? When is it time to stop meditating? Would that improve or worsen my problems?

B ) What meditation techniques would you generally recommend for me, considering a brief overview of my challenges?

C) Do you have any experiences with the combination of stimulants (ADHD meds, no abuse on my part) and meditation? Is it advisable to meditate at the peak or the end of the medication's effect? Is it sensible or even dangerous to activate the parasympathetic system through meditation while the sympathetic system is stimulated by the medication?  Seems like pressing on the gas pedal and the brake at the same time.

D) Can Vipassana meditation worsen ADHD symptoms? Do people who practice Vipassana for a long time become more scattered in their minds? Do concentration problems develop?

Thank you.
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 8:39 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 8:39 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 5269 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Welcome to DhO, Guy.

There are quite a few resources online that speak to your questions. Have you explored any of those? Would you like a compiled list?
Andi idnA, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 9:21 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 9:21 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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Chris M
Welcome to DhO, Guy.

There are quite a few resources online that speak to your questions. Have you explored any of those? Would you like a compiled list?


Thanks for welcoming me, Pal.

I would be very grateful for links to those resources.
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 4:30 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 9:46 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 351 Join Date: 1/19/23 Recent Posts
Welcome!

Another resource perhaps; an advanced practitioner with autism:
https://www.youtube.com/@TheAwakeningCurriculum
Playlist on Autism & Buddhist Practice
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 10:02 AM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 396 Join Date: 10/30/23 Recent Posts
Howdy friends! Haha I kid. Welcome!
Derek2, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 10:22 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 10:22 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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Hi, Andreas,

It seems you are doing leading-edge research here.

Let's just pick a recent (2021) meta-study:

Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review

For ADHD: "A systematic review and meta-analysis has found statistically significant effect of [mindfulness-based interventions] in decreasing the severity of ADHD core symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity. . . . However, the authors concluded that there is insufficient methodologically sound evidence to support the effectiveness due to limited number of studies, heterogeneity across studies and high risk of bias."

So the body of knowledge in the literature, such as it is, probably cannot improve on your n=1 study.

Your last question was: "Can Vipassana meditation worsen ADHD symptoms? Do people who practice Vipassana for a long time become more scatterd in their minds? Do concentration problems develop?"

Again, you won't find any large-scale, methodologically sound studies. They simply don't exist. So we can only look at anecdotes. I came across this one from someone who had spent 21 years doing Goenka vipassana for two hours a day at home, plus a retreat every year:

https://forum.culteducation.com/read.php?12,122724

At the end of 21 years of vipassana, the thread author was unsure of whether there had been any benefits.
Olivier S, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 11:16 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 11:14 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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Hey,

Thanks for that link to the guy describing his 21 years of experience with Goenka vipassana. Sad story, but important to have that testimony. It's not just that he had no benefits after 21 years: he is describing how the organization ended up ruling every aspect of his life, how he eventually realized that it was basically a cult, and how he got out of it.

However, it says more about the problems with that specific organization and method, than about the long term effects of "meditation" in general. It all depends on what you're actually doing, and many other contextual factors.

Cheers
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 11:18 AM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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It also says a lot about relying on anecdotes as evidence. We humans love a good story, but a good story can be the most misleading thing we encounter on our way to figuring stuff out.
Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 12:12 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 12:12 PM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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It also says something about the malleability of stories. I am going to assume that, had someone asked the poster about the benefits of his practice in those organizations five years ago, he would have described them very differently (probably as numerous and profound). The same set of circumstances and experiences can be interpreted in radically different ways, not only by different people, but also by the same person, at different times. So not only the anecdotes that we hear, but also the stories that we ourselves tell, can be unreliable. 
Derek2, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 12:53 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 12:53 PM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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Yes, of course.

There's also the larger question, raised in The Dark Side of the Dharma, of whether meditation is really a "detachable technique."
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 1:53 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 1:53 PM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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For those of us who haven't read that, can you please explain what "detachable technique" means?
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 3:36 PM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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I think he means seperable from Buddhism as a whole. Like you hear a lot of the more religious people complain about the "secularization of mindfulness" and what not. 
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 3:48 PM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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So I want to talk a bit about suffering and social connections. So I've found meditation to be a rich reward (one of the deepest rewarding things I've gotten into) and it really is kinda a bummer most of my regular friends don't really get it. Like it's a deep part of my life, most of my friends support me, but there isn't a huge connection. Its a bit like trying to explain psychedelics to a straight edge friend. However I haven't found that meditation has personally made me any less interested in "my old life", friends, hobbies or interests. I still very much like all those things. It's just made me more chilled out about things in general. And I have even made new friends, like the folks on here, through it! And they get it. 

in terms of suffering, I had bad ptsd when I started and the amount of suffering I experience now is a tiny fraction of what it used to be. Now in terms of neurodivergence, I can't say for certain what would and wouldn't happen. However my hunch is that meditation helps reduce suffering on a "lower" level closer to the mechanics of the brain (the separate sense of a self, doer, knower. The mind feeling like a madhouse. The stories of who I am or should be that great created, etc). 
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 4:21 PM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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I dunno. Let's let him explain it.
Andi idnA, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 10:16 PM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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@Chris
"Welcome to DhO, Guy.

There are quite a few resources online that speak to your questions. Have you explored any of those? Would you like a compiled list?"

----------

No offense taken, Chris.

(But we have an "I'm not your Buddy, Guy" situation between us now. Are you from Canada? ^^)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1JakODvYhA

Those links were not very helpful. Most of them are superficial introductions to the topics of neurodivergence and meditation. What made you think that I am looking for Google's first-page search result recommendations after me finding and signing up for these nerdy meditation forums? Genuine question.

Is it possible that you stopped reading after I described my shallow meditation experience, categorizing me as a total beginner? That's correct, but at the same time, it's one of the main points of my post: Despite having experienced very low doses of meditation, I am starting to experience crass side effects, probably due to neurodivergence. That's why I'm looking for advice here; you people have seen, experienced, and read a lot over the years.

I'll clarify that point in my post and provide a brief summary at the beginning.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 4 Months ago at 1/21/24 10:35 PM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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I am not, as far as I'm aware, neurodivergent. Some of my friends were recently diagnosed in their 30s, but the word itself wasn't really in use back when I was younger. 

I am definitely very odd and have had huge amounts of mental health issues and difficulty integrating into society. Issues that over time have been massively improved by meditation. 

Point A is really the same question asked three separate times. Is meditation going to hurt? The answer is very likely yes. 

It made me for a few years massively reclusive. It amplified many negative emotions and also many positive emotions (which can can also have its difficulties). 

Your concerns are valid. Your intuition clearly suspects that this could be a very challenging process. It often is. 

​​​​​​​I can't specifically give you advice for someone with your condition though I think you're wise to consult others about it. 

​​​​
Derek2, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 2:57 AM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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Sha-Man! Geoffrey
I think he means seperable from Buddhism as a whole. Like you hear a lot of the more religious people complain about the "secularization of mindfulness" and what not. 

Exactly. Gone are the monks, gone is the village wat that serves as community center, gone are the festivals that bring people together. All that's left is an extractable technique and retreat centers, where people spend 10 days not talking to each other, then go their separate ways. The question is: "Has something valuable been lost here?"

But this is a larger question and probably not relevant to Andreas' concerns.
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 4:44 AM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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I think you might really like the book "the birth of insight" it touches on basically the history with how meditation got the way it is. The interesting thing though, is I think you could argue that meditation was never really "attached" to Buddhism in the way you're thinking. Layity practicing meditation is brand new (like last 200 years new), and as far as I can tell doesn't have historical precedent. But even going back, my understanding is that monks practicing meditation has come and gone in and out of style depending on the times. 

Even the Easterns that visit the eastern monastery I'm currently living at don't usually want to practice, they come to hang out and give Dana and see the monks. 
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 8:05 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 7:42 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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What made you think that I am looking for Google's first-page search result recommendations after me finding and signing up for these nerdy meditation forums? Genuine question.

Sorry. I meant no disrespect. I did read your entire first post and then used a "can't hurt/might help" version of replying. These forums aren't as nerdy as you might think, and very often folks come to DhO and ask questions without having tried finding answers on their own. 

I did query the new EPRC publication library briefly and got no responses to searches for the terms "autism", "neurodiversity" and "ADHD" when combined with the term "meditation." (EPRC = Emergent Phenomenology Research Consortium)

One of the other hosts here who is neurodivergent and who also has an advanced meditation practice (Linda Orulv) might be your best bet to get some answers to your questions. You can contact her directly using the DhO message system. Her screen name is Linda "Polly Ester" Ö.  You might also want to read through her meditation practice logs on DhO.

Hope this explains my response to you. I was trying to help. Not being neurodivergent or having ADHD (that I know of) I hope you find what you're looking for.
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 7:44 AM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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"I'm not your Buddy, Guy"

I love Buddy Guy  
Andi idnA, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 9:10 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 9:07 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 7 Join Date: 10/23/23 Recent Posts
---------------
@Nihila and Sha-Man

Thank you and ... Hi!
---------------



---------------
@Derek2
"Hi, Andreas,

It seems you are doing leading-edge research here.

Let's just pick a recent (2021) meta-study:

Mindfulness-based interventions: an overall review

For ADHD: "A systematic review and meta-analysis has found statistically significant effect of [mindfulness-based interventions] in decreasing the severity of ADHD core symptoms such as inattention, hyperactivity or impulsivity. . . . However, the authors concluded that there is insufficient methodologically sound evidence to support the effectiveness due to limited number of studies, heterogeneity across studies and high risk of bias."

So the body of knowledge in the literature, such as it is, probably cannot improve on your n=1 study.

Your last question was: "Can Vipassana meditation worsen ADHD symptoms? Do people who practice Vipassana for a long time become more scatterd in their minds? Do concentration problems develop?"

Again, you won't find any large-scale, methodologically sound studies. They simply don't exist. So we can only look at anecdotes. I came across this one from someone who had spent 21 years doing Goenka vipassana for two hours a day at home, plus a retreat every year:

https://forum.culteducation.com/read.php?12,122724

At the end of 21 years of vipassana, the thread author was unsure of whether there had been any benefits.
"
---------------

Thank you for the kind response.

Here's another summary of the research on ADHD/meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFJBwdpSPmU

As you mentioned, it's quite thin.

To be honest, I'm also skeptical when it comes to studies on meditation. I have the impression that the personalized adaptation of meditation techniques to individual needs is crucial to assess the effectiveness of interventions. I believe such studies may not be able to achieve this and are therefore unreliable sources.

So  I have to rely on N=1 reports. But that's okay, and I'm very interested in your individual experiences and opinions. If I'm lucky, I might be able to identify patterns that might help me move forward.

That's why the post from the "Goenka-sufferer" was interesting to me. I felt sorry for him, but at the same time, I was glad for his breaking free. Yet, the most interesting realization for me was: It's possible to meditatively explore one's own body/mind for decades and still overlook one's blind spots regarding one's true needs. What differentiates the meditator who uncovers their blind spots from the one who overlooks them for years? In this case, it doesn't seem to be the duration of practice nor the devotion... Hmm... an interesting question for me.
Derek2, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 10:12 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 10:02 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 231 Join Date: 9/21/16 Recent Posts
Andreas Müller
I have the impression that the personalized adaptation of meditation techniques to individual needs is crucial to assess the effectiveness of interventions.

What's also true is that the formal studies I've seen use quite small amounts of meditation (e.g. 2 x 20 minutes). The anecdotes of success -- and yes, everyone, I do understand the difference between anecdotes and methodologically sound studies -- the success stories often involve much larger amounts of meditation.

Here's an example:

"How I defeated my 20 years of anxiety disorder with 5 hours meditation a day ! The story." https://old.reddit.com/r/Meditation/comments/k7k059/how_i_defeated_my_20_years_of_anxiety_disorder/

Andreas Müller
It's possible to meditatively explore one's own body/mind for decades and still overlook one's blind spots regarding one's true needs. What differentiates the meditator who uncovers their blind spots from the one who overlooks them for years? In this case, it doesn't seem to be the duration of practice nor the devotion... Hmm... an interesting question for me.

That's another good point. There are famous teachers, powerful teachers, teachers who meditate for 12 hours a day and give amazingly insightful talks. Yet who's to say there isn't spiritual bypassing happening behind the scenes?
Martin, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 11:22 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 11:22 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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The Birth of Insight looks great. Thanks for mentioning it!
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 12:14 PM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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Some might even go as far to say that our mind makes up the stories...
Nath Eris, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 12:19 PM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

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Hi, nice to encounter another neurodivergent person here!

I'm (late-)diagnosed with autism, and I may or may not have ADHD (never assessed, who knows).

There certainly are ways in which neurodivergency affects meditation.

The most noticeable for me is that I often encounter difficulties understanding instructions, as they are based upon how the author of the respective set of instructions perceives things, and that can be pretty different to how I do. Like, it's very common for autistic people to have visual or spatial/tactile thoughts rather than or in addition to verbal thoughts or to have a much more detailed sensory perception.

Also, attention seems to work a bit differently for me. It's not something that I can easily intentionally direct, at least not as frequently as attention-based meditation requires, without getting a huge backlash.

I attended a weekly group therapy for autistic adults 2 years ago for some months which included short meditation practices, and also there the consensus was that meditation can be good or bad for autistic people as one needs to see which forms of it one is comfortable with.

But on the other hand, at least in the dharma circles in which I hang out primarily, neurodivergent people are extremely common (though that might just be selection bias on my side).
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 12:23 PM
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RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 396 Join Date: 10/30/23 Recent Posts
Rereading your original post, I think it's also important to note that certain meditation methods tend to develop your mind in different ways. For example, doing some one-pointed concentration is going to cultivate your mind differently than say mahasi noting, with respect to the "scatteredness". Doing something like insight dialogue (I think that's what it's called), is going to natural build more of a social connection into the meditation experience itself. But one thing that could be useful, is you've mentioned stuff you're trying to avoid happening when you meditate, but what are your goals? What kinds of things are you looking to get?
Andi idnA, modified 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 9:55 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/22/24 9:52 PM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 7 Join Date: 10/23/23 Recent Posts
So I want to talk a bit about suffering and social connections. So I've found meditation to be a rich reward (one of the deepest rewarding things I've gotten into) and it really is kinda a bummer most of my regular friends don't really get it. Like it's a deep part of my life, most of my friends support me, but there isn't a huge connection. Its a bit like trying to explain psychedelics to a straight edge friend. However I haven't found that meditation has personally made me any less interested in "my old life", friends, hobbies or interests. I still very much like all those things. It's just made me more chilled out about things in general. And I have even made new friends, like the folks on here, through it! And they get it.

in terms of suffering, I had bad ptsd when I started and the amount of suffering I experience now is a tiny fraction of what it used to be. Now in terms of neurodivergence, I can't say for certain what would and wouldn't happen. However my hunch is that meditation helps reduce suffering on a "lower" level closer to the mechanics of the brain (the separate sense of a self, doer, knower. The mind feeling like a madhouse. The stories of who I am or should be that great created, etc). 

I can understand well what you mean. My personal experiences have taken on a different twist over the years. The more I understand people, recognizing patterns in how my fellow humans (and myself) harm ourselves and others, the more compassion on one side and alienation on the other I begin to develop. At the same time, I know there is nothing I can do or say to help them. Friends can be chosen, but family cannot. When I observe my family members hurting each other, it pains me. I want to help them wholeheartedly and simultaneously flee from them. I no longer share their stories. It leaves me speechless, lonely, and powerless. Further down, another member asks why I want to meditate. Finding a different, kinder, more patient way of dealing with my fellow humans, especially those closest to me, is one of the answers. Another way to put it: I have never had the ability to tune out the painful parts of reality, as others can. I perceive human relationships as a tragedy. Always did so uncounsciously, getting older brought conscious understanding. At the same time, I feel/know deep down that my pessimistic view is wrong. There are the beautiful, breathtaking aspects of humanity and existance as a whole. So, I would prefer to perceive our existence as a dramedy instead :-) More lightheartedness despite the things being as they are.

Regarding your experiences with PTSD: Could you briefly (or at length, if you prefer!) summarize how and how long you meditate, and why you believe meditation is helpful for you? cPTSD is an important topic for me.

PS: This is the most incomprehensible quoting system I have ever come across. How do I manage to insert a quote, respond to it, then insert a another quote, and respond to this second one again?
Derek2, modified 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 12:54 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 12:54 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 231 Join Date: 9/21/16 Recent Posts
Andreas Müller
PS: This is the most incomprehensible quoting system I have ever come across. How do I manage to insert a quote, respond to it, then insert a another quote, and respond to this second one again?

I don't understand it either. My clunky way of doing it:

  1. Click the three dots on the post you want to quote
  2. Click Reply with Quote
  3. Click Advanced reply
  4. Click <> Source
  5. Manually manipulate the "source" code
‎ ‎Nihila, modified 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 2:32 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 2:04 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 351 Join Date: 1/19/23 Recent Posts
You say CPTSD is an important topic for you and that anger has become an issue for you. As someone with CPTSD myself I can say what's really helped me has been just sitting with the stuff. Really just sitting and compassionately feeling into it with. Another thing is emotional literacy (which seems to be a core issue in people with CPTSD), basically learning to identify and label the emotions, both feeling into and the literacy sort of go hand in hand. Seeing as you already are aware of the anger I would think you're really well on your way. I could send you some stuff specifically aimed at CPTSD if you're interested.

Now I don't know how this works with autism, if there are different needs perhaps, but my understanding is that this is generally something that works well.

Hope this helps.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 2:47 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 2:42 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 523 Join Date: 5/26/23 Recent Posts
Also a cptsd sufferer, or was for a long time, not so much a problem these days. Years of compassionately feeling the pain helped. Noticing all the ways I recoiled against it. Seeing all the neurotic strategies I used to avoid it. Becoming extremely honest about my own experience with myself and others was essential. Gradually with diligent meditation it has mostly dissolved. But it required my exploring it very deeply and very intimately. 

It was often a very intense process. I don't know what that would be like with hypersensitivity/autism. But if it's any consolation. Most people I know who go this path end up experiencing at least some super gnarly stuff. 

Big man says... 
​​​​​​​
There is suffering. There is a cause of suffering. There is an end to suffering. There is a path to the end of suffering. 

​​​​​​​
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 7:49 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 7:43 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 5269 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
This is the most incomprehensible quoting system I have ever come across. How do I manage to insert a quote, respond to it, then insert a another quote, and respond to this second one again?

Two editing/quoting options that I use: 

1) Most often I use the "<> Source" command in the advanced editor. That way I can cut and paste text in any order or manner I want, and then use the quote command on the appropriate text passages. (This is pretty much the same thing described by Derek2, but I don't use the "Reply with Quote" option. I manually copy and paste the text I quote, which gives me al little more control over the formatting of my response.)

2) I sometimes use a separate plain text editor to format replies, then post them and edit the resulting post using the advanced editor, again highlighting the appropriate text and using the quote command. (Don't compose in MS Word and then copy that paste the response here. This system doesn't handle the hidden Word formatting commands - the resulting post is almost always unreadable.)

Affirmation:  Yes, Andreas, this is a very clunky system and has been since forever. It's an all-volunteer system funded by Daniel Ingram and a few donors. DhO uses software (Liferay) that was built to host e-commerce platforms, not good old-fashioned message boards. That is what causes most of the problems - overly complex software that has been re-engineered in bits and pieces.
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Geoffrey Gatekeeper of the Gateless Gate, modified 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 10:02 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/23/24 9:57 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 396 Join Date: 10/30/23 Recent Posts
PS: This is the most incomprehensible quoting system I have ever come across. How do I manage to insert a quote, respond to it, then insert a another quote, and respond to this second one again?
Haha yeah. It took me like two months to figure out how to do emoticons on this emoticon


I can understand well what you mean. My personal experiences have taken on a different twist over the years. The more I understand people, recognizing patterns in how my fellow humans (and myself) harm ourselves and others, the more compassion on one side and alienation on the other I begin to develop. At the same time, I know there is nothing I can do or say to help them.

Yeah I've felt a similar way from meditation, where once I recognized how much I was being blown around by craving, aversion and the stories in my head and how much suffering it creates for you and others, well then you can't help to notice how much others are being blown around from it. Lucky for me with more training I stopped being blown, but I still meet people who are treading water, and you want to help in a substantial way but you can't in a lot of cases.

Regarding your experiences with PTSD: Could you briefly (or at length, if you prefer!) summarize how and how long you meditate, and why you believe meditation is helpful for you? cPTSD is an important topic for me.

Yeah so I had pretty classic PTSD or maybe CPTSD. But I used to have flashbacks, big panic attacks, big emotional outbursts the like. Occasionally I would swing through depression as well. The first I noticed towards this was there was one day I was meditating on an acute-depression treatment drug my pysch had recommended for me, and it just felt like the temperature in my head went down. Something was different. So I tried again doing the same combination the next day, a similar thing happened, and afterward I just knew I wouldn't have any more flashbacks (and since then I havent). Then there were a few more times after that where "I" fell out of my head, into my body, then into the world. It lasted only a few seconds, but each time again there was just more space for thoughts. Then eventually I started to be able to be aware of my big emotions in space, and at first they were crazy. For anxiety lets say, there would be the anxiety, but then a solidity to it, a part pushing that away, a big feeling of a solidity in my head that was trying to control everything, and thoughts that were just screaming. Over time that pushing feeling went away and I could sit with them better, and then the solidity went away, and finally I was able to see the bare anxiety, and a few days sitting with that my mind just relaxed and realized it didn't have to get so anxious about everything. Since then It's basically been gone. Then similar things happened gradually over time for everything else. Like when I was on a two-month retreat, I just saw my bare depression, and it cycled through in maybe 20 minutes, and I realized it wasn't the demon it had been before.

Another way to put it: I have never had the ability to tune out the painful parts of reality, as others can. I perceive human relationships as a tragedy. Always did so uncounsciously, getting older brought conscious understanding. At the same time, I feel/know deep down that my pessimistic view is wrong. There are the beautiful, breathtaking aspects of humanity and existance as a whole. So, I would prefer to perceive our existence as a dramedy instead :-) More lightheartedness despite the things being as they are.

For me the pain ended up being a huge gateway into everything. The idea that I could be free from suffering, coupled with all the suffering, led me to practice every day like my hair was on fire. It also was a gave me a good source for understanding what exactly the Buddha meant when he talked about attachment, and how suffering is different than say just unpleasant things. It was a hard road, but for it seemed to be the road life carved out for me.
Andi idnA, modified 4 Months ago at 1/25/24 4:29 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/25/24 4:28 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 7 Join Date: 10/23/23 Recent Posts
@Bahiya Baby
I am not, as far as I'm aware, neurodivergent. Some of my friends were recently diagnosed in their 30s, but the word itself wasn't really in use back when I was younger. 

I am definitely very odd and have had huge amounts of mental health issues and difficulty integrating into society. Issues that over time have been massively improved by meditation.

I assume from your writing that you may not be familiar with the topic of neurodivergence. You would be surprised at how much ADHD and autism differ from the typical prejudices portrayed in the media. In my support groups, I have encountered autistic individuals who resemble 'Rainman', but also incredibly open, empathetic, and social individuals. I would argue that the range of differences among neurodivergent people is at least as high as among neurotypical individuals. The boundaries between normal, ADHD, and autism are fluid, and it is often especially challenging to recognize the combination of ADHD/autism (which is a rather new official diagnosis btw).

If I had to identify commonalities among all autistic individuals, they would include:
a) Difficulties in integrating into society (often despite good abilities in reading faces and understanding social rules). Some autistics understand social rules very well, but emotionally cannot comprehend them. "I see what you're doing. But why are you doing it?"
b) A youthful appearance and/or childlike disposition despite being older.
c) The ability to distance themselves from their emotions and speak about them in the third person. The ability to apologize.

Regarding ADHD: Only a subgroup experiences issues with hyperactivity. Others may appear outwardly calm and quiet. However, internally, all share a restlessness, difficulties in emotional regulation, and executive dysfunction. Particularly, exploring the inner experiences of individuals with ADHD can help provide clues for self-diagnosis. The external symptoms between those with ADHD and individuals on the autism spectrum (as well as those with complex post-traumatic stress disorder) often significantly overlap.

People with ADHD and/or autism are drawn to each other. I would almost call it an instinctive sympathy. Friendships are common here. I think you understand what I'm getting at. It's worth delving into the subject.

Could you briefly summarize which meditation techniques you practice, how long, and how intensively? Any tips and stumbling blocks in that direction?

It amplified many negative emotions and also many positive emotions (which can can also have its difficulties).

I'm currently experiencing exactly that. Are you still in the phase where heightened sensitivity can throw you off course? How do you deal with it? Or, how did you overcome this phase?

I would be very grateful for another response.

---

I can quote now, yay!
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Bahiya Baby, modified 4 Months ago at 1/25/24 5:09 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/25/24 5:09 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 523 Join Date: 5/26/23 Recent Posts
I am very familiar and rather well acquainted with neurodivergent people. My best friend of decades has ADHD and another has Asperger's. Both diagnosed within the last few years. 

I was more building the argument, that whatever your diagnosis, whatever your trauma, whatever your personal catastrophe, If one chooses meditation, one most walk through the flames. 

Obviously there are strategies to do that gently and wisely. 

I started with investigation of the three characteristics. The approach to this is laid out in Mastering the core teachings of the Buddha and in Seeing that Frees. 

Then when the time is right I worked more with an exploration of emptiness. The practices in seeing that frees can lead you there when the ground work is in place. 

Now I do... I don't really know how to say. Weird late game non-practice stuff. 

Hyper sensitivity does not throw me. I experience almost no discomfort, no anxiety, no major worries, no major traumatic reactivity, no suicidal ideation, no depression. Life is a lot better. 

I have multiple suicide attempts. I spent years of my life in crippling discomfort. I was neurotic as all hell. Really, really dysfunctional. 

It has been life changing to be free of all that. I arrived at where I'm at now through the practice I mention above. 

Plus a little metta, jhanic practice and freaky tantric stuff. But the core of what I did is laid out above and in the books I mentioned. 

​​​​​​​It was very challenging and involved fairly radical restructuring of my life. But, these things are different for everyone. 

Forgive me, I am on my phone and it's late that I'm writing this, did you mention you had or had not read Mastering the core teachings of the Buddha ?? 
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Chris M, modified 4 Months ago at 1/25/24 7:58 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 1/25/24 7:58 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 5269 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Related side note:

Consider reading a book called "Neurotribes" by Steve Silberman. Recommended for anyone who wants to better understand the nature of autism (huge variance in terms of symptoms, etc.)  and the utterly fucked up relationship between autism and the medical profession, psychiatry in particular. (Blame goes to medicine & psychiatry.) This book opened my eyes to the reality of what autistic people go through, and especially how difficult (impossible?) it has been until very recently to find effective treatments and, more importantly, accommodation and integration into an unwelcoming society.
Andi idnA, modified 4 Months ago at 2/6/24 5:35 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/6/24 5:35 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 7 Join Date: 10/23/23 Recent Posts
I find it impolite when people share their time and experience with me and don't even receive the slightest feedback from me. I'm sorry for that. Due to health reasons (blood pressure), I had to abruptly stop my ADHD medication - it's a challenging time for me right now, usually one would taper off those meds for good reasons.
Just a brief update to activate and ease my conscience! Once things settle, I will respond to your helpful replies.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 4 Months ago at 2/6/24 5:37 AM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/6/24 5:37 AM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 523 Join Date: 5/26/23 Recent Posts
Best wishes !! Take care of yourself emoticon
tom bill, modified 4 Months ago at 2/6/24 10:02 PM
Created 4 Months ago at 2/6/24 10:00 PM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Post: 1 Join Date: 2/3/21 Recent Posts
Hello Andi,

Welcome to the forum! It's great to have you here, and I appreciate your detailed introduction and the exploration of your experiences with meditation. I'll do my best to address your concerns and questions.

A1) Your concern about meditation potentially making you more self-satisfied and withdrawn is valid. While meditation can enhance introspection and self-reflection, it's essential to balance it with an active engagement with the external world. Integrating mindfulness into daily life, including social interactions, work, and relationships, can be a helpful approach. Compassion-focused meditation practices, such as Loving-Kindness Meditation (Metta), may also contribute to maintaining a sense of connection and motivation for positive social engagement.

A2) Sensory hypersensitivity is a common challenge, and meditation can impact it differently for individuals. Mindfulness practices can help you observe and respond to sensory experiences with greater awareness. However, it's crucial to tailor your meditation practice to accommodate your sensitivity. Consider exploring gentle forms of meditation, such as body scan meditation, and gradually introducing mindfulness to sensory stimuli. Regular practice might, over time, help modulate your sensitivity, but it's essential to be patient and adapt your practice as needed.

A3) If you find that meditation is intensifying emotional pain without a corresponding improvement in coping mechanisms, it's important to reassess your approach. You might consider working with a meditation instructor or mental health professional to tailor your practice to better suit your needs. It's not uncommon for individuals to modify or temporarily suspend meditation practices based on their evolving experiences and challenges.

emoticon Given your challenges, a combination of mindfulness practices, Loving-Kindness Meditation (Metta), and Vipassana can be beneficial. However, it's crucial to adapt these practices to your unique circumstances. Integrating mindfulness into daily activities and focusing on self-compassion can be particularly valuable.

C) Regarding the combination of stimulants and meditation, it's advisable to consult with your healthcare provider, considering the specifics of your ADHD medication. They can provide guidance on the timing of meditation sessions concerning your medication schedule. Balancing the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems is an individual matter, and your healthcare provider can offer personalized recommendations.

D) Vipassana meditation, when practiced mindfully, generally aims to enhance awareness and concentration. However, individual responses can vary. If you notice a worsening of ADHD symptoms or increased scattered thoughts, it may be helpful to adjust the intensity or duration of your practice. Monitoring your experiences and consulting with a meditation instructor or healthcare provider can provide valuable insights.

Overall, your commitment to self-awareness and exploration is commendable. It's crucial to approach meditation with flexibility, adapting practices to suit your evolving needs and challenges. If you encounter difficulties, seeking guidance from experienced meditation instructors or mental health professionals can offer valuable support. Remember that meditation is a tool for personal growth, and its effectiveness can be optimized through thoughtful and adaptive practice.
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finding-oneself ♤, modified 3 Months ago at 3/3/24 4:31 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/3/24 4:18 PM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 520 Join Date: 1/7/14 Recent Posts
https://www.youtube.com/live/qz_XNuUH5i0?si=9VRViFm9RfsIRWlB

I'm just leaving this here. It's Dr. Angello DiLullo. He wrote "Awake, It's Your Turn".

Edit: TimeStamp 20:00 He answers a persons question about mediation/autism.

He then talks about ADHD.

26:00 about. Hes talking about ADHD, and mediation and he offers a specific technique.
brian patrick, modified 3 Months ago at 3/3/24 6:45 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/3/24 6:45 PM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 65 Join Date: 10/31/23 Recent Posts
I am ASD/ADHD. I would ask first what your intentions with a meditation practice would be? I see you have suffering and do not like it. Who would. Nobody I think. I had a very similar experience to what you described my entire life. For me it presented as a low lying constant hum of anxiety and/or stress, punctuated by worse stress/anxiety during life trials.
It was so omnipresent I didn't realize it was there most of the time, until one day under an extremely stressful life sittuation it popped and I went into what I now understand to be an A and P event. At first there was tremendous bliss for weeks to a couple months. Then the bliss faded and I went into an extremely intense upheaval of repressed emotions, darkness, followed by periods of malaise and apathy, followed by more dark emotional work. The bliss had been so amazing that I was willing to research how to deal with the emotional/body work to get back to it. I found Daniel Ingram videos along the way and spoke with him briefly, and came here. I recently read his book and continue to read through the insight passages as I roll around in them. 

many of the symptoms you describe I had my whole life. Hypersensitivity to light and sound. OCD with food and "gross things", problems with certain textures of food, clothing, bedding. Social awkwardness, inability to understand the directions or intentions of others, and on and on. I could always hyper focus on things I wanted to do or had to do, although with executive dysfunction was also a procrastinator. 

I can tell you honestly that 70% of that is gone. Maybe more than that recently. What I realized is that the symptoms I took for a neurological disorder were largely maladaptive psychological coping mechanisms and not the "physical" part of the disorder. I still have ASD/ADHD. I can see them. But the perceived severity is drastically decreased. 

to me, we have a super power that mere mortals do not... ok, I kid, but not really. The thing is, as far as I can tell, if you are not looking to ride this train to the station you may not like what has to happen to get there. I've always had a high tolerance for uncomfortableness and could tune out the world and just endure. This I think was related to hyper focus and served me well during many of the dark times. 

I wish you luck and a good journey, whatever you choose. You might look into Wim Hoff and his ice plunges and breathing exercises. Getting used to intense physical stress can help crack the shell, as it were. Shock the body into responding. 

​​​​​​​read MCTB.org by Daniel as he has some insight into the whole map of what can or will happen on this journey. In fact he pretty much mathed the whole thing out in great detail. 
brian patrick, modified 3 Months ago at 3/3/24 7:04 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 3/3/24 7:04 PM

RE: Guy with ADHD/Autism has many questions

Posts: 65 Join Date: 10/31/23 Recent Posts
I wanted to add that I am not educated but was always an analysis guy. I over analyzed everything and wanted concrete answers. But many of the insights that come are not conceptual. They can't be understood with "facts" or by finding an expert to lay them out in detail. This was a double edged sword. Accepting that there are just no good words for some of it is inevitable. On the other hand I was used to sort of operating on a non-conceptual level out of necessity, because often I had to do something simply by feel. So I maybe wasn't as freaked out at certain things that some others might have been. Again, good luck. 

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