Neurodivergence and insight

Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/11/18 2:19 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight ivory 12/11/18 5:59 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/12/18 3:45 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Nick O 12/11/18 8:15 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/12/18 3:38 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Jehanne S Peacock 12/12/18 12:39 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/12/18 3:57 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Andromeda 12/12/18 4:34 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Chris M 12/12/18 7:01 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Chris M 12/12/18 7:42 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Andromeda 12/12/18 8:29 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Chris M 12/12/18 8:44 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Andromeda 12/12/18 9:23 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Chris M 12/12/18 10:37 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Andromeda 12/12/18 10:48 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/12/18 1:11 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Andromeda 12/12/18 3:49 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/12/18 4:29 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/12/18 1:01 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/12/18 12:56 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Andromeda 12/13/18 4:53 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/13/18 9:38 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight svmonk 12/13/18 9:49 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight spatial 12/12/18 9:57 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Chris M 12/12/18 10:42 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight spatial 12/12/18 1:27 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Chris M 12/13/18 7:03 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight spatial 12/13/18 9:08 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/13/18 9:52 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight svmonk 12/13/18 10:10 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/14/18 12:05 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight svmonk 12/14/18 9:03 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/12/18 1:19 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight spatial 12/12/18 1:30 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/12/18 3:11 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Dada Kind 12/12/18 10:48 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/13/18 9:30 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Andromeda 12/13/18 12:45 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/13/18 2:00 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight spatial 12/14/18 9:01 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Andromeda 12/14/18 10:05 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Dada Kind 12/13/18 11:55 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/14/18 6:45 AM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight J C 1/5/19 4:41 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 1/5/19 5:13 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight An Eternal Now 12/13/18 12:29 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/13/18 1:40 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Derek2 12/13/18 9:09 PM
RE: Neurodivergence and insight Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö 12/14/18 7:01 AM
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/11/18 2:19 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/11/18 2:09 PM

Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 6727 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
In another thread a fellow meditator and I found out that we had similar experiences of stumbling upon certain insights or states early in life spontaneously because of strategies we had invented in order to handle sensory overload due to neurodivergence, and by way of sensory stimulation (stimming) that is common among autistic people. We discussed how manual attention for the sake of surviving in a world where most people have much of their attention on autopilot, whereas we had no autopilot, may be exhausting and difficult to manage but also under the right circumstances more finely attuned than an autopilot could ever be. If the conditions are right, being forced to having your attention on manual ride can actually enable some insight. Furthermore, I’m guessing that we are probably less prone to be affected by the social conditioning that makes up the illusion.

On the other hand, neurodivergence may entail concentration difficulties (high concentration is possible but not readily available whenever I choose). Being autistic, I may have difficulties letting go of things, rendering equanimity difficult in certain situations. Neurodivergence commonly also entails problems with regulating and balancing one’s energy. Because of an ableistic society, many of us suffer from psychological issues such as trauma, and this could give us a tough ride when meditating, I guess. Thus, the way we function may also hamper our progress.

A person that I love is neurodivergent and has a brain damage that causes executive dysfunction. He has never had a sense of self. All his life he has struggled hard to make sense of the concept of having a continuous, undivided and integrated self, that thing that people seem to take for granted. All he can see is a stream of thoughts and feelings and sensory input and causal reactions (although time is a vague concept for him as well). He has noticed that other people are very attached to certain ideals, opinions, preferences and interests, but he has never managed to feel that kind of attachment. He does care deeply about moral conduct in the sense of caring about all that is living, but he doesn’t see that as personal ideals or opinions in a way that constitutes self identity. The sad part is that he doesn’t feel liberated by this, because he finds it very difficult to navigate in a society that wasn’t built for him.

I am autistic and have ADHD and Tourette Syndrome. As for the latter, I have struggled with my tics for decades and been exhausted. I was astounded when I realized that what caused the suffering was craving. The tics were preceded by sensations and thoughts that had me believe that if I didn’t perform a certain motion or make a certain sound, I would be endlessly uncomfortable. Ticcing didn’t help, though. It usually generates even more impulses. Resisting these urges, on the other hand, is hellish. Inspired by the concept of equanimity it dawned on me that there was an approach that I hadn’t tried: just observing the urge without resisting it or acting on it. So I did. ”Bring it on!” I thought. To my surprise, there was nothing there but the urge, and the urge just... vanished. It is actually a very mild and short sensation. It’s not even painful when examined closely. ”Wait, whaaaaat?!” I thought. ”Is that all you’ve got?!” For all these years, I have been suffering unnecessarily.

Do any of you have diagnoses like autism, ADHD, Tourette syndrome, or OCD and feel like sharing your experiences of how your neurodivergence has affected your meditation practice and your insights? Secondly, has insight meditation had any effect on your difficulties related to neurodivergence?

If any of you (regardless of how your brains are wired) have any reflections on this, I would appreciate that too.
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ivory, modified 3 Years ago at 12/11/18 5:59 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/11/18 5:54 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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I was diagnosed as being OCD as a child but I forgot all about my diagnosis into my adult years. I no longer count things like I did as a child. About 5 years ago I had an intense life crisis. My mind just stopped functioning normally and I was utterly miserable. I was diagnosed with Bipolar II with rapid cycling but it made no sense to only start having Bipolar symptoms at 33 years of age. I did a lot of research and came across this site.

Dark Night seemed like a much more accurate description of what I was experiencing. I did therapy but also continued to meditate and inquire. Although my researched gave me clues as to what was going on I was too caught up in labels. I ended up dropping labels and working really hard to get to the root of my mental issues. I still have challenges, but I no longer think of them as OCD, Bipolar, or Dark Night. There are just emotional responses like anxiety, obsession, and sadness, lack of motivation, joy, creativity, excitement, etc.

Experimenting with various practices and learning to work with emotion is what changed my life around. Therapy combined with spiritual practice taught me lessons in resilience, patience, responsibility, acceptance, and commitment. It has been a very long and hard road but my efforts are paying off. Life is challenging but now it feels very fulfilling.
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Nick O, modified 3 Years ago at 12/11/18 8:15 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/11/18 8:15 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Since I was a child, I've had this urge to twittle sticks, pencils, straws or whatever I can get my hands on, infront of my face. When I was young I did it extended periods all while lost in stories written in my imagination. As I grew older, I became embarrassed by it because no one ever told me why I did it but I was still so satisfied by it, that I continued to do it in private. There was no diagnosis. I still feel the urge at times, but it has kinda morphed into this rubbing my hands together thing (that I did just now btw haha). I also often fiddle with things in my hands. It's satisfying and calming in this strange way.

A few years ago I met my cousin's daughter when she was 4 or so. I had heard that she was diagnosed with autism. She was carying around a straw, flicking it infront of her face. My jaw dropped. All these years I had no idea what my issue was and there it was, in the family.

I still also find myself writing and revisting stories of my imagination when doing little repetitive or menial tasks like washing dishes, brushing my teeth, or getting dressed. These behavioral tendencies have calmed quite a bit with meditation but are definitely still deeply rooted. I often wonder with deepening insight what will happen to them.

Never heard the term "stimming" before. Thanks for the info. I now can call it something! 
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Jehanne S Peacock, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 12:39 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 12:34 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Hi Linda and welcome to the forum! emoticon

Linda ”Polly Ester” Örulv:

I am autistic and have ADHD and Tourette Syndrome. As for the latter, I have struggled with my tics for decades and been exhausted. I was astounded when I realized that what caused the suffering was craving. The tics were preceded by sensations and thoughts that had me believe that if I didn’t perform a certain motion or make a certain sound, I would be endlessly uncomfortable. Ticcing didn’t help, though. It usually generates even more impulses. Resisting these urges, on the other hand, is hellish. Inspired by the concept of equanimity it dawned on me that there was an approach that I hadn’t tried: just observing the urge without resisting it or acting on it. So I did. ”Bring it on!” I thought. To my surprise, there was nothing there but the urge, and the urge just... vanished. It is actually a very mild and short sensation. It’s not even painful when examined closely. ”Wait, whaaaaat?!” I thought. ”Is that all you’ve got?!” For all these years, I have been suffering unnecessarily.
Yes! Fantastic that you discovered this and it has helped you! I always suspected this to be the case with tics too. I've noticed a similar thing with regards to stopping undesired habits. I had a habit that I kinda wanted to stop doing and had promised somebody to also stop. But I noticed that I kept doing it. Now I'm done, but the urge arises and for a short while there is this infinitely high wall of desire to ditch every promise I made and do it anyway. I can see the flood of excuses coming along and I'm imaginning myself doing it. But if I just wait for a few seconds it completely passes. It's really not that bad looked at in hindsight, but when it occurs the urge is strong and could be said to be painful. It is really easy to fall for that, so I'm not blaming people who are unable to do it at the moment. I do think though that if this was discussed more widely, it could result in people being more empowered and actually doing the hard work and getting over stuff like this. For me it helps to think "Do I really want to be the person who does this?" It's more revarding to choose to be the noble one who does not break promises to oneself or others.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 3:38 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 3:38 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Nick: Wow, great to finally know. It does sound like stimming. I want to clarify that stimming is quite a different thing compared to the tics I have because of my Tourette’s. Stimming is meditative and not harmful in any way, rather the opposite. I embrace my stimming. There are a lot of behavioral ”therapies” forcing kids to stop stimming, and research has shown that such treatment often causes PTSD. So if you feel like stimming, then do it. It doesn’t hurt anyone. But yeah, chosing your moments to do it may be a good idea if it is disruptive.

Tics, on the other hand, are compulsive and may even hurt your muscles or joints.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 3:45 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 3:45 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Ivory, thanks for sharing! I’m really glad that your life is fulfilling now. 

I think I did have OCD as a child, too, although I was never diagnosed with that. I would wash my hands until they bled and try out different pronounciations of words in a symmetric pattern that was based on fours and expanded (hard to explain). I even prayed obsessively as a child, although I grew up in an atheist family. I’m not sure how I let go of all that, but somehow I did. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 3:57 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 3:57 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Jehanne, thanks for your warm welcome and for sharing!

Yes, I think it is extremely important not to blame those who are unable to let go of their compulsion. I’m not sure I could have done it earlier in life no matter how much I tried. I don’t think I would have grasped the difference between resisting and just observing, because observing can be done with resistance too, and that is hurtful. It strengthens the compulsion. I had to be able to just be in the flow, surrender myself to the sensation rather than distancing myself from it. If somebody had said this to me before, I think I would have thought it to be bullshit, actually. And to have somebody say that you can just stop doing it when you can’t, that can be abusive, perhaps especially since Tourette’s comes with a stigma. So while I agree that this insight can be very helpful, I also think that it is important to be careful with how it is distributed. This is really difficult.
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Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 4:34 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 4:34 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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I recently had a fascinating discussion with an old Rinpoche about how we had both been really weird, socially awkward, death obsessed children. He told me this was because I'd made spiritual progress in past lives and was able to see how messed up society was from an early age. Thus it gave me a lot of samvega, which he said is the biggest determinant of awakening. He also told me that past life regression isn't any fun and it's totally not required to make it all the way to Buddha-hood and so he recommended skipping it.

I've never had any belief in rebirth or interest in past life regression. But it got me thinking--my own preferred scientific explanations ("I inherited just the right amount of crazy genes") is just another set of beliefs about the past with which to make sense of the present. A story, just an alternate narrative. A conceptual lens very much the product of language and the modern Western world, maybe a bit more sophisticated than rebirth (or at least more in vogue) but still just a belief. Not really necessary, not really "True" with a capital T, whatever that means. Sometimes very useful for communication, though, as in this thread. 

I also asked the Rinpoche, "Why do some people wake up?" He was silent for a long time. Then he said that he'd pondered that question for decades and it was a fruitful line of inquiry, but he hadn't come up with any answers that could be put into words. Me neither.
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Chris M, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 7:01 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 7:01 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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This discussion is opening my eyes to some personal behavioral traits I've always just accepted as "weird": I've always counted. It's some kind of comforting, reflexive thing. I count the number of steps I'm walking up or down, or the number of steps from one place to another. I count things like the number of towels I use in a public restroom. I have preferred routines that are important for me to maintain - the exact steps I use to perform a task, the routes I take driving to and from the office. I've never communicated this to anyone before. I've had several bouts with anxiety in the past and the counting and the routines are a way to cope with what I always perceived as a random, uncontrollable world.

I'm not sure what this all means in relation to this conversation but... it makes me think.

Good on you guys.
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Chris M, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 7:42 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 7:42 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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To the point of "why do some people awaken?" - I'd add this "why do some people awaken more easily?"

I always felt there was something "wrong" with my experience. It was out of sync in some way (duh!). There was something about my anxiety that HAD to be discoverable in a deep, experiential and neurophysiological way. So, yeah, there's that.

Ok, enough from me.
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Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 8:29 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Chris Marti:
To the point of "why do some people awaken?" - I'd add this "why do some people awaken more easily?"

I always felt there was something "wrong" with my experience. It was out of sync in some way (duh!). There was something about my anxiety that HAD to be discoverable in a deep, experiential and neurophysiological way. So, yeah, there's that.

Ok, enough from me.

Gabba gabba we accept you, we accept you, one of us! ;)

Yeah, I think the anxiety you mention is samvega, or at least a fundamental component of it. That "wrongness," like a chip on your tooth that you can't stop probing at with your tongue... Just like over months and years the sharp edges of the tooth get worn down, so perhaps does the illusion of self get attenuated as we keep probing at it with our attention. The more samvega we feel, the more insistently and constantly we probe. The Rinpoche also said that people without samvega might have a dedicated daily practice but still take decades and not get very far. 

We can't MAKE insight happen--it's not like a vending machine where you put in money and something comes out. It's more like a slot machine, where the more you play the more likely it is you'll win the jackpot but there are no guarantees. I was listening to a podcast on Mystical Positivist the other day and they likened it to getting struck by lightning. You can't make lightning happen, but you can climb up a mountain holding a lightning rod.

So the people who wake up more "easily" may just be spending more time doing things that are the equivalent of holding a lightning rod. If you are wired in such a way that life requires you to do a lot of that on a regular basis just to get through the day, that raises the statistical likelihood of insight.
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Chris M, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 8:44 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 8:44 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Two things come to mind when I think about my practice early on:

1. Massively motivated, as if life were at stake
2. A natural fit with vipassana meditation, mainly the MCTB mode

Maybe this explains the quick progress. I dunno, but this discussion has helped me think about this with new insights.
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Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 9:23 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Chris Marti:


1. Massively motivated, as if life were at stake


So how did this manifest for you? Presumably, you were disciplined in formal practice both in the amount of time and the quality of effort. But what about the rest of the day? Was it the focus of most of your thinking? Reading? When did you start working in off-cushion practices? How did this have an effect on the rest of your life?
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spatial, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 9:57 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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I have always looked at the world differently from most people. I have been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, and a therapist thought I might have autism, but it's hard for me to say.

I have never had as strong a sense of self as most people seem to. It has frequently made me feel isolated. I do think that this has made meditation a little bit easier, as I have been very willing to explore aspects of the self without being too emotionally attached. Meditation has also been quite validating, as I have seen first-hand how things other people take for granted simply do not exist in the way they insist they do.

As a child, I was constantly over-stimulated by things like textures of clothing and food, social interactions, noise, etc. I did a lot of what might be called "stimming." My attention never seemed to be under my control, although I didn't think of it that way at the time. I just knew that I was never doing what I was supposed to be doing. Meditation has helped me to understand these things better. It has also shown me how much suffering experienced by "neurotypicals" is caused by the exact same processes. The difference seems to be that society is constructed around certain assumptions, and if you fit those assumptions, there are systems in place for helping you function, without necessarily having to confront any of your issues head-on.

I suspect that anyone interested in a forum like this, or in a book like MCTB, is going to be at least slightly "neurodivergent." And, when I read about the Buddha, or about complex dharma theory such as dependent origination, I sense that I am in the presence of kindred spirits.
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Chris M, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 10:37 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 9:59 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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So how did this manifest for you? Presumably, you were disciplined in formal practice both in the amount of time and the quality of effort. But what about the rest of the day? Was it the focus of most of your thinking? Reading? When did you start working in off-cushion practices? How did this have an effect on the rest of your life?

You may be able to glean some of this in my public practice diary but that covers stream entry and afterward: 

http://awakenetwork.org/magazine/cmarti/70#more-70

Before my formal practice ever got started I was extremely focused on psychology and how what I was perceiving and experiencing would be able to cause so much angst and pain. I didn't perceive most other people as having this problem. I was spending a LOT of time trying to figure that out, talking to people, therapists, doctors, etc. I was prescribed medication of various kinds, which I either took for a while or stopped taking as sometimes these made things much worse.

Once I started a formal practice it was Zen and it was okay but it didn't lead to the kind of revelations (insights) I was really seeking, so I just kept digging around in bookstores, libraries and on Google. Google eventually brought me to MCTB, The Blook, which I printed and read once, thought it was odd and just too different to be legit, and put it down and fretted about this stuff more for a few months. Eventually, because I wasn't getting anywhere, I re-read MCTB and started practice a la Daniel Ingram. Not long afterward insights flowed.

I could go on but all throughout this lengthy period, and before, I was absolutely certain I wasn't seeing or grokking something about how I felt the world was put together, which I figured pointed back at me - my mind and related mechanisms.
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Chris M, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 10:42 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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I have never had as strong a sense of self as most people seem to.

Spatial - how did this manifest?
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Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 10:48 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Yep, looks like you were obsessed!

I can totally relate to having had a strong sense of not seeing things clearly--it seemed to me like there was something important just out of the corner of my eye that would disappear as soon as I turned toward it like a will-o-the-wisp. And feeling quite alienated and like there was something terribly wrong with me because it seemed nobody else felt that way. I spent years in my teens basically living on the margins of society.

What's interesting is that I totally rejected Buddhism as a teen because what I encountered was that myth of enlightenment being some state of permanent bliss and I had nothing but disdain for that.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 12:56 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 12:56 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Andromeda:
I recently had a fascinating discussion with an old Rinpoche about how we had both been really weird, socially awkward, death obsessed children. He told me this was because I'd made spiritual progress in past lives and was able to see how messed up society was from an early age. Thus it gave me a lot of samvega, which he said is the biggest determinant of awakening.


Hmmm, that sounds just like me. I was appalled by how messed up society is from early on. I have always found it weird that so many people are not. But past lives... If we are all one, how can there be individual reincarnation? If we return to the source when we die, aren’t we all mixed up with the rest of it then? Like when you pour a glass of water into a bucket with water in it? When a new glass is poured, it will not be the same water molecules as before, at least not all of them. But maybe it is possible to just happen to be that glass that gets most molecules from those former glasses that had gone through certain experiences?

Andromeda:
I also asked the Rinpoche, "Why do some people wake up?" He was silent for a long time. Then he said that he'd pondered that question for decades and it was a fruitful line of inquiry, but he hadn't come up with any answers that could be put into words. Me neither.

I have just taken for granted that people wake up because they need to reconnect with the source because of exhaustion from all individual experiences. It can only happen when one lets go of one’s individual self identity. Until you are ready to do that, it won’t happen. And that’s a good thing, because until you are, you don’t really want to. But I don’t know.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 1:01 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 1:01 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Chris Marti:
This discussion is opening my eyes to some personal behavioral traits I've always just accepted as "weird": I've always counted. It's some kind of comforting, reflexive thing. I count the number of steps I'm walking up or down, or the number of steps from one place to another. I count things like the number of towels I use in a public restroom. I have preferred routines that are important for me to maintain - the exact steps I use to perform a task, the routes I take driving to and from the office. I've never communicated this to anyone before. I've had several bouts with anxiety in the past and the counting and the routines are a way to cope with what I always perceived as a random, uncontrollable world.

I'm not sure what this all means in relation to this conversation but... it makes me think.

Good on you guys.

Normality is overrated. Weird is good. It’s an honor that you decided to communicate this to us. Thanks for sharing!
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 1:11 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 1:11 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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The samvega discussion is interesting. I do have that urge to probe it, and I had that feeling that my life was at stake when I first started doing yoga. I have always felt that there must be something more to life, the universe and everything.

I’m thinking that it is probably easier to wake up if you are not so much invested in your individual self. If you are, you have more to ”lose”. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 1:19 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 1:17 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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spatial:
I have always looked at the world differently from most people. I have been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, and a therapist thought I might have autism, but it's hard for me to say.

I have never had as strong a sense of self as most people seem to. It has frequently made me feel isolated. I do think that this has made meditation a little bit easier, as I have been very willing to explore aspects of the self without being too emotionally attached. Meditation has also been quite validating, as I have seen first-hand how things other people take for granted simply do not exist in the way they insist they do.

As a child, I was constantly over-stimulated by things like textures of clothing and food, social interactions, noise, etc. I did a lot of what might be called "stimming." My attention never seemed to be under my control, although I didn't think of it that way at the time. I just knew that I was never doing what I was supposed to be doing. Meditation has helped me to understand these things better. It has also shown me how much suffering experienced by "neurotypicals" is caused by the exact same processes. The difference seems to be that society is constructed around certain assumptions, and if you fit those assumptions, there are systems in place for helping you function, without necessarily having to confront any of your issues head-on.

I suspect that anyone interested in a forum like this, or in a book like MCTB, is going to be at least slightly "neurodivergent." And, when I read about the Buddha, or about complex dharma theory such as dependent origination, I sense that I am in the presence of kindred spirits.

I can relate so much to this! Most of it. I did have a strong sense of self, though. At least I think so. On the other hand, it has never really been a single self. I have always felt that there are different parts of me, even if they are joined together. That has allowed me to see things from different perspectives, I guess.
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spatial, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 1:27 PM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Chris Marti:
I have never had as strong a sense of self as most people seem to.

Spatial - how did this manifest?

Some examples:
  • I have always been more interested in what I've been doing, and less interested in how I look while I'm doing it.
  • I'm generally more open-minded than most. I don't care as much about tradition or authority, or anything like that.
  • I've never had a strong sense of national identity.
  • I've never held grudges for long periods of time.
  • I've never really had a coherent, consistent sense of what my future is supposed to look like.
  • I've always had multiple, conflicting interpretations of what my past means.
  • I've always had a hard time answering questions like "how are you feeling?", because it has seemed obvious that feelings are quite complex.
  • The prospect of investigating my experience as it is here and now has never sounded even remotely threatening to me. The challenge seems to have been calming down enough to actually do it.

Not saying there's no self-ing going on here, but I somehow feel like it's just never been as strong as it could have been. I've always worried a lot, and had a lot of social anxiety. But those things seem to be more in-the-moment, not quite the way I hear others describe them. I've also had a somewhat different concept of self for the past couple years than I did earlier. It's hard for me to really remember what it felt like back then.

OK, so I just took a break and read something I wrote 12 years ago about what I felt all my problems in life have always been. It's hard for me to relate to the author of this, because he is taking things way more seriously than I would ever take them. I still stand behind what I said about not having as strong a sense of self, though. Maybe it's more accurate to say that although my sense of self was strong in intensity, it wasn't quite as coherent and integrated as it could have been.
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spatial, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 1:30 PM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Örulv:
spatial:
I have always looked at the world differently from most people. I have been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult, and a therapist thought I might have autism, but it's hard for me to say.

I have never had as strong a sense of self as most people seem to. It has frequently made me feel isolated. I do think that this has made meditation a little bit easier, as I have been very willing to explore aspects of the self without being too emotionally attached. Meditation has also been quite validating, as I have seen first-hand how things other people take for granted simply do not exist in the way they insist they do.

As a child, I was constantly over-stimulated by things like textures of clothing and food, social interactions, noise, etc. I did a lot of what might be called "stimming." My attention never seemed to be under my control, although I didn't think of it that way at the time. I just knew that I was never doing what I was supposed to be doing. Meditation has helped me to understand these things better. It has also shown me how much suffering experienced by "neurotypicals" is caused by the exact same processes. The difference seems to be that society is constructed around certain assumptions, and if you fit those assumptions, there are systems in place for helping you function, without necessarily having to confront any of your issues head-on.

I suspect that anyone interested in a forum like this, or in a book like MCTB, is going to be at least slightly "neurodivergent." And, when I read about the Buddha, or about complex dharma theory such as dependent origination, I sense that I am in the presence of kindred spirits.

I can relate so much to this! Most of it. I did have a strong sense of self, though. At least I think so. On the other hand, it has never really been a single self. I have always felt that there are different parts of me, even if they are joined together. That has allowed me to see things from different perspectives, I guess.

Yes, that's another thing! I have always found it easy to see things from different perspectives. And, often quite difficult to choose one perspective to latch onto, once I see the options.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 3:11 PM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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I recognize myself in that.

I find it difficult to understand why so many people feel so threatened by seeing clearly what goes on in their mind. Did they seriously not now what they were thinking and feeling and craving and fearing and in conflict with themselves about? How can people just walk around being complete mysteries to themselves?
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Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 3:49 PM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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This thread seems like a good place for this Robinson Jeffers poem, The Theory of Truth. "Only tormented persons want truth..."

------------

I stand near Soberanes Creek, on the knoll over the sea, west of
the road. I remember
This is the very place where Arthur Barclay, a priest in revolt,
proposed three questions to himself:
First, is there a God and of what nature? Second, whether there's
anything after we die but worm's meat?
Third, how should men live? Large time-worn questions no
doubt; yet he touched his answers, they are not unattainable;
But presently lost them again in the glimmer of insanity.

How
many minds have worn these questions; old coins
Rubbed faceless, dateless. The most have despaired and accepted
doctrine; the greatest have achieved answers, but always
With aching strands of insanity in them.
I think of Lao-tze; and the dear beauty of the Jew whom they
crucified but he lived, he was greater than Rome;
And godless Buddha under the boh-tree, straining through his
mind the delusions and miseries of human life.

Why does insanity always twist the great answers?
Because only
tormented persons want truth.
Man is an animal like other animals, wants food and success and
women, not truth. Only if the mind
Tortured by some interior tension has despaired of happiness:
then it hates its life-cage and seeks further,
And finds, if it is powerful enough. But instantly the private
agony that made the search
Muddles the finding.
Here was a man who envied the chiefs of
the provinces of China their power and pride,
And envied Confucius his fame for wisdom. Tortured by hardly
conscious envy he hunted the truth of things,
Caught it, and stained it through with his private impurity. He
praised inaction, silence, vacancy: why?
Because the princes and officers were full of business, and wise
Confucius of words.

Here was a man who was born a bastard, and among the people
That more than any in the world valued race-purity, chastity, the
prophetic splendors of the race of David.
Oh intolerable wound, dimly perceived. Too loving to curse his
mother, desert-driven, devil-haunted,
The beautiful young poet found truth in the desert, but found also
Fantastic solution of hopeless anguish. The carpenter was not his
father? Because God was his father,
Not a man sinning, but the pure holiness and power of God.
His personal anguish and insane solution
Have stained an age; nearly two thousand years are one vast poem
drunk with the wine of his blood.

And here was another Saviour, a prince in India,
A man who loved and pitied with such intense comprehension of
pain that he was willing to annihilate
Nature and the earth and stars, life and mankind, to annul the
suffering. He also sought and found truth,
And mixed it with his private impurity, the pity, the denials.
Then
search for truth is foredoomed and frustrate?
Only stained fragments?

Until the mind has turned its love from
itself and man, from parts to the whole. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 4:29 PM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Wow, that poem pretty much sums up this thread. 
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Dada Kind, modified 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 10:48 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/12/18 10:48 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 633 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
I have an approach to this topic which, based on this thread so far, appears to be... divergent. When I saw the title of this post the other day I had to read it twice. I thought I had accidentally submitted one of my drafts or something. I was going to post a thread with a very similar title.

I can't, however, tell how you're using the term "neurodivergent". Are you using the term as a euphemism for "mentally fucked up", or, politely, some deviation from the norm which causes problems, societal dysfunction, etc? You mentioning "ableistic society" suggests that to me.

I think there are advantages to considering a literal interpretation of the word "neurodivergent" -- any mental/cognitive/psychological deviation from the norm. You see, by emphasizing 'neurodivergence' which causes dysfunction, you'll tend to emphasize the most obvious 'neurodivergence', the extreme cases. By broadening the definition it's easier to consider everyone 'neurodivergent' to some degrees, in some ways. In a strange way, the conversation becomes more inclusive.

In particular, I think it's more interesting to think about non-obvious 'neurodivergence'. Are we different in ways that matter but which aren't obvious to us? I think the answer is yes. How these differences influence meditation is a super interesting question. For example, I made a thread about aphantasia and meditation:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8915622

No responses, except for Chris emoticon

The reason I never posted my thread is that I don't really have many complete thoughts on this subject. Since you brought it up, kinda, I'll dump a couple notes/links:

I think the existence/strength of an "internal monologue" is another likely candidate for divergence. Consider this in the context of Daniel's "No Thought" chapter. Also, see:
https://www.reddit.com/r/self/comments/3yrw2i/i_never_thought_with_language_until_now_this_is/

In my mind SlateStarCodex is a cousin site to the DhO at this point. Here are two very relevant posts there,
http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/03/17/what-universal-human-experiences-are-you-missing-without-realizing-it/
http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/11/07/concept-shaped-holes-can-be-impossible-to-notice/

The comments are fascinating. One starts to wonder how people communicate effectively at all.

It's been years since I watched this talk, but, I think this all ties in nicely with a talk Daniel gave at Buddhist Geeks, It's a Jungle in There: What Contemplatives Can Learn from the Naturalists
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkEkL5XdUMk
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Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 4:53 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Örulv:
Andromeda:
I recently had a fascinating discussion with an old Rinpoche about how we had both been really weird, socially awkward, death obsessed children. He told me this was because I'd made spiritual progress in past lives and was able to see how messed up society was from an early age. Thus it gave me a lot of samvega, which he said is the biggest determinant of awakening.


Hmmm, that sounds just like me. I was appalled by how messed up society is from early on. I have always found it weird that so many people are not. But past lives... If we are all one, how can there be individual reincarnation? If we return to the source when we die, aren’t we all mixed up with the rest of it then? Like when you pour a glass of water into a bucket with water in it? When a new glass is poured, it will not be the same water molecules as before, at least not all of them. But maybe it is possible to just happen to be that glass that gets most molecules from those former glasses that had gone through certain experiences?

I'm not entirely convinced this Rinpoche actually has a solid belief in rebirth--maybe, but maybe not. He is scientifically literate and quite educated, not to mention awake. I definitely don't think he expected ME to have any solid belief in it. Within the context of our conversation (we talked for several hours), I think it may have just been part of his semi-theatrical tongue-in-cheek Vajrayana schtick which he used to surprisingly good effect. We mostly just talked straight as spiritual friends, but he absolutely did not miss any opportunities to push me in ways he felt would be good for my development.  
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Chris M, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 7:03 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Spatial:

Some examples:
  • I have always been more interested in what I've been doing, and less interested in how I look while I'm doing it.
  • I'm generally more open-minded than most. I don't care as much about tradition or authority, or anything like that.
  • I've never had a strong sense of national identity.
  • I've never held grudges for long periods of time.
  • I've never really had a coherent, consistent sense of what my future is supposed to look like.
  • I've always had multiple, conflicting interpretations of what my past means.
  • I've always had a hard time answering questions like "how are you feeling?", because it has seemed obvious that feelings are quite complex.
  • The prospect of investigating my experience as it is here and now has never sounded even remotely threatening to me. The challenge seems to have been calming down enough to actually do it.

I could have written every one of those points. I've always and consistently wondered how other people develop such strong likes/dislikes and seem to have locked-in preferences. I'm much more likely to adapt to changes faster and embrace change. I especially relate to your last bullet and I think that's what has propelled my meditation practice. I see this same attribute in you and your practice and I think that's one big reason why I follow your practice thread closely - it reminds me very much of my practice.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 9:30 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 8:58 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 6727 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Hi Dada Kind! Many interesting thoughts! I would love to discuss what you brought up. These are topics that I need and appreciate input on. I just need to adress something first because it’s important to me. Please bear with me.

I definitely do not mean neurodivergent as a eufemism to ”fucked up”. I’m autistic and have ADHD and Tourette’s syndrome, but that doesn’t mean that I’m fucked up. I’m not extreme either. I’m a parent, have a great social life, an abundance of love and my dream job as a senior researcher. If I didn’t, that wouldn’t make me fucked up either. My differently wired brain is for good and for worse, depending very much on the circumstances. In my research it is both my greatest advantage and by biggest problem. The same goes for my parenting. In my other relationships I would say that it’s mostly an advantage nowadays, because it has forced me to work with myself in ways that I find are beneficial to having fulfilling relationships.

I always find it fascinating to find out about people’s differences, including the more subtle ones, in order to get new perspectives and nuances - in an explorative and nonjudgemental way that doesn’t divide people. Diversity applies to all of us. Being divergent, however, puts an emphasis on being different from the norm, which I am. That’s why I used the phrase. There’s nothing normative about that, just statistics. I guess I was eager to connect with others who might have different styles of meditating and experiences outside what is considered the ”normal” ways of waking up (or snoozing or whatever it is that I’m doing, haha), and also people who are very often excluded because... well, our perspectives are, quite frankly. On the other hand, waking up is per se not that normal, I suppose... I probably should have added the concept of neurodiversity. I’m open to discussing very different cases. That is, as long as we refrain from calling each other fucked up. You didn’t say that any of us were, of course. I just want to be clear that I don’t either. And personally, I don't see disability as extreme in any way. As for dysfunction, that is relative and only part of a diagnosis. To many it is an important part, though, because people tend to trivialize it. That doesn't make us/them extreme or fucked up.

Now - I’m very interested in your thoughts on the topic, so I will definitely check out your thread and the other links later this evening (for me here in Sweden it's 16:30 PM now. Aphantasia is a very interesting phenomenon and I can at least partly relate to it. Visualisation exercises are difficult to me because of that. I have tried guided hypnosis on youtube where I’m supposed to meet somebody suddenly or receice a gift, and there is usually nobody or nothing there. As for internal monologues, I used to believe they were central to how I think, because when I was younger I did that a lot, almost obsessively. Over the years I have come to realize that it was something I did (and sometimes still do but not that often) not for the purpose of thinking, but to translate my thoughts to other people - which I had to do because my thoughts had other shapes. I also don't think in a linear way. When I analyse something, my thoughts branch off in many different directions, and keep doing so.
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spatial, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 9:08 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Chris Marti:
I've always and consistently wondered how other people develop such strong likes/dislikes and seem to have locked-in preferences. I'm much more likely to adapt to changes faster and embrace change. I especially relate to your last bullet and I think that's what has propelled my meditation practice. I see this same attribute in you and your practice and I think that's one big reason why I follow your practice thread closely - it reminds me very much of my practice.

I also have this theory that the world is divided into two broad groups of people: 1) those who think of their sense of self as being responsible for everything good in their lives, and 2) those who think of their sense of self as being responsible for everything bad in their lives.

I tend to fall in group 2, and I think it has made meditation easier as a result.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 9:38 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Andromeda:
I'm not entirely convinced this Rinpoche actually has a solid belief in rebirth--maybe, but maybe not. He is scientifically literate and quite educated, not to mention awake. I definitely don't think he expected ME to have any solid belief in it. Within the context of our conversation (we talked for several hours), I think it may have just been part of his semi-theatrical tongue-in-cheek Vajrayana schtick which he used to surprisingly good effect. We mostly just talked straight as spiritual friends, but he absolutely did not miss any opportunities to push me in ways he felt would be good for my development.  
It sounds like a great meeting. I'm glad.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 9:52 AM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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spatial:
I also have this theory that the world is divided into two broad groups of people: 1) those who think of their sense of self as being responsible for everything good in their lives, and 2) those who think of their sense of self as being responsible for everything bad in their lives.

I tend to fall in group 2, and I think it has made meditation easier as a result.
I think of the individual self as a set of positions that allow for certain perspectives, and I believe that the world on a duality level benefits from a variety of perspectives. I suppose that complete non-duality means having no perspectives at all, because there would be nothing to perceive and no perceiver. I don't belive that one is better than the other, per se. Unity and diversity (being one with everything vs being able to experience things) both have their perks. Being attached to an individual self does create suffering, though, because it makes people fear and causes defense mechanisms and distrust between people. I sincerely hope there is a way for humanity to evolve spiritually in a way that minimizes harm even as people are alive and experience things.
An Eternal Now, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 12:29 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 12:28 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Örulv:
In another thread a fellow meditator and I found out that we had similar experiences of stumbling upon certain insights or states early in life spontaneously because of strategies we had invented in order to handle sensory overload due to neurodivergence, and by way of sensory stimulation (stimming) that is common among autistic people. We discussed how manual attention for the sake of surviving in a world where most people have much of their attention on autopilot, whereas we had no autopilot, may be exhausting and difficult to manage but also under the right circumstances more finely attuned than an autopilot could ever be. If the conditions are right, being forced to having your attention on manual ride can actually enable some insight. Furthermore, I’m guessing that we are probably less prone to be affected by the social conditioning that makes up the illusion.

On the other hand, neurodivergence may entail concentration difficulties (high concentration is possible but not readily available whenever I choose). Being autistic, I may have difficulties letting go of things, rendering equanimity difficult in certain situations. Neurodivergence commonly also entails problems with regulating and balancing one’s energy. Because of an ableistic society, many of us suffer from psychological issues such as trauma, and this could give us a tough ride when meditating, I guess. Thus, the way we function may also hamper our progress.

A person that I love is neurodivergent and has a brain damage that causes executive dysfunction. He has never had a sense of self. All his life he has struggled hard to make sense of the concept of having a continuous, undivided and integrated self, that thing that people seem to take for granted. All he can see is a stream of thoughts and feelings and sensory input and causal reactions (although time is a vague concept for him as well). He has noticed that other people are very attached to certain ideals, opinions, preferences and interests, but he has never managed to feel that kind of attachment. He does care deeply about moral conduct in the sense of caring about all that is living, but he doesn’t see that as personal ideals or opinions in a way that constitutes self identity. The sad part is that he doesn’t feel liberated by this, because he finds it very difficult to navigate in a society that wasn’t built for him.

I am autistic and have ADHD and Tourette Syndrome. As for the latter, I have struggled with my tics for decades and been exhausted. I was astounded when I realized that what caused the suffering was craving. The tics were preceded by sensations and thoughts that had me believe that if I didn’t perform a certain motion or make a certain sound, I would be endlessly uncomfortable. Ticcing didn’t help, though. It usually generates even more impulses. Resisting these urges, on the other hand, is hellish. Inspired by the concept of equanimity it dawned on me that there was an approach that I hadn’t tried: just observing the urge without resisting it or acting on it. So I did. ”Bring it on!” I thought. To my surprise, there was nothing there but the urge, and the urge just... vanished. It is actually a very mild and short sensation. It’s not even painful when examined closely. ”Wait, whaaaaat?!” I thought. ”Is that all you’ve got?!” For all these years, I have been suffering unnecessarily.

Do any of you have diagnoses like autism, ADHD, Tourette syndrome, or OCD and feel like sharing your experiences of how your neurodivergence has affected your meditation practice and your insights? Secondly, has insight meditation had any effect on your difficulties related to neurodivergence?

If any of you (regardless of how your brains are wired) have any reflections on this, I would appreciate that too.


ADHD has not prevented me from attaining MCTB 4th Path. My insights did not miraculously make me neurotypical, but I do not get upset or suffer because of my neurodivergence. Hope this helps.
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Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 12:45 PM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Linda ”Polly Ester” Örulv:
 As for internal monologues, I used to believe they were central to how I think, because when I was younger I did that a lot, almost obsessively. Over the years I have come to realize that it was something I did (and sometimes still do but not that often) not for the purpose of thinking, but to translate my thoughts to other people - which I had to do because my thoughts had other shapes.

I was amused recently when a friend said he thought of me as a hyperverbal person (we communicate most frequently via email). I had to explain that no, actually I'm just translating into words the thoughts that are in another internal language entirely and actually it takes me quite a bit of effort. I also tend to think in nonlinear, multidimensional ways and suspect this is one of the reasons verbal communication is frustrating--it is VERY linear. 
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 1:40 PM
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RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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An Eternal Now:
ADHD has not prevented me from attaining MCTB 4th Path. My insights did not miraculously make me neurotypical, but I do not get upset or suffer because of my neurodivergence. Hope this helps.


Great! I’m glad for you.

I wouldn’t say that I suffer from being neurodivergent either. I did suffer from my tics before, but that’s not really the same thing, the way I see it. I have no desire whatsoever to be neurotypical. I was just trying to be nuanced, because I know there are many people who feel that they they are not taken seriously when their diagnoses are described only in positive ways, and also many who feel that they are being stigmatized when they are described solely as being dysfunctional. I don’t worry about my diagnoses preventing me from any path. I only do my best to be a good person and to deepen my insights, because that’s how I want to live my life. It’s not a competition. Still, I find it interesting to reflect upon how my practice is affected. I wondered why I had A&P as a teenager without putting in any work. My questions come from curiosity, not fear.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 2:00 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 2:00 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Andromeda:
I was amused recently when a friend said he thought of me as a hyperverbal person (we communicate most frequently via email). I had to explain that no, actually I'm just translating into words the thoughts that are in another internal language entirely and actually it takes me quite a bit of effort. I also tend to think in nonlinear, multidimensional ways and suspect this is one of the reasons verbal communication is frustrating--it is VERY linear. 

It IS very linear, indeed, and that is SO frustrating!

I can take myself into a very verbal mode, but that is an aquired skill. I do enjoy playing with words, but I get tired of communicating and enjoy alone time in silence.
Derek2, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 9:09 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 9:09 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Have you had any success with nutrition as a treatment for OCD or ADHD? I have been reading a bit about it on the Meat Heals website http://meatheals.com/category/mood-mental-health/ocd/ and in the Mikhaila Peterson videos on YouTube.
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svmonk, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 9:49 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 9:44 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Hi Andromeda,

Not trying to be provocative or anything, but what difference would it make if the Rinpoche believed in rebirth or not? To whether or not something coming out of his life is reborn or isn't? I mean, either rebirth exists or it doesn't regardless of whether you believe in it. I think this is where Westerners get confused. In Western religions, there are serious consequences postulated if you don't believe in God, the Divinity of Christ, etc. In Buddhism, what matters is how you live your life, moment to moment, what your intention is, which governs your karma. Not what you believe in, to the extent what you believe in doesn't impact your intention (in many cases, of course, it does). If you live your life with wholesome intention, you generate wholesome karma in yourself and those around you. If rebirth exists, something coming out of your life will be reborn in good circumstances with possiblity for further practice. If rebirth doesn't exist, the memories of you in people you influenced during your life that you left behind will make the world a better place, and even possibly contribute to their further practice. Maybe they're the same thing in the end.
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svmonk, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 10:10 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 10:07 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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Hi Linda,
I suppose that complete non-duality means having no perspectives at all, because there would be nothing to perceive and no perceiver.

Right, this is approaching the issue from emptiness, which is the ultimate reality. It's what the Heart Sutra means by:
There are no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or thoughts. There are no forms, sounds, scents, tastes, sensations, or dharmas. There is no field of vision and there is no realm of thoughts. There is no ignorance nor elimination of ignorance, even up to and including no old age and death, nor elimination of old age and death. There is no suffering, its accumulation, its elimination, or a path. There is no understanding and no attaining.
But from the relative reality side, there's suffering, its accumulation, etc. What generates all that is clinging, taking some sensation, thought, etc. to be "mine".

I've found in my practice that separating the clinging from the sensation when powerful emotions and sensations like anger and pain arise results in the clinging dissolving into energy and the sensation or emotion often then fades away. Is this the same as your approach to the thoughts that end up generating Tourette's? It sounded to me like it might be.
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Dada Kind, modified 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 11:55 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/13/18 11:55 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 633 Join Date: 11/15/13 Recent Posts
I think you may be misunderstanding me on a couple points. I'll try to be more clear

It would be unfortunate if the average cynical person would, privately in their mind, translate "neurodivergence" to mean "mentally fucked up". Wouldn't it? My argument is that by primarily focusing the discussion of "neurodivergence" around disability/dysfunction/disorder one might be contributing to the above unfortunate outcome.

For example, most people probably hear the term around the discussion of "neurotypical", autism spectrum, etc. That's fine and accurate. Imagine this other hypothetical situation: wow, I just found out that my longterm friend has aphantasia! They are 'neurodivergent'. I never would have known. But, you know, it makes sense... they do think about some stuff in a weird way.

It's not a surprise that the latter example isn't common; types of 'neurodivergence' aren't well-identified yet. That's the interesting part!

Thanks for looking at the aphantasia thread
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 12:05 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 6:18 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 6727 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
svmonk:
Hi Linda,
I suppose that complete non-duality means having no perspectives at all, because there would be nothing to perceive and no perceiver.

Right, this is approaching the issue from emptiness, which is the ultimate reality. It's what the Heart Sutra means by:
There are no eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, or thoughts. There are no forms, sounds, scents, tastes, sensations, or dharmas. There is no field of vision and there is no realm of thoughts. There is no ignorance nor elimination of ignorance, even up to and including no old age and death, nor elimination of old age and death. There is no suffering, its accumulation, its elimination, or a path. There is no understanding and no attaining.
But from the relative reality side, there's suffering, its accumulation, etc. What generates all that is clinging, taking some sensation, thought, etc. to be "mine".

I've found in my practice that separating the clinging from the sensation when powerful emotions and sensations like anger and pain arise results in the clinging dissolving into energy and the sensation or emotion often then fades away. Is this the same as your approach to the thoughts that end up generating Tourette's? It sounded to me like it might be.


I think so, yes. I was inspired by how Shinzen Young talk about equanimity together with concentration power and sensory clarity, so I concentrated on the sensations making up the urge without resisting them and without acting on them, and tuned into perceiving them clearly and entangling them. There was no suppression. I kind of rided the wave. That’s when I realized that the sensations were actually a very small part of it. The rest was my resistence and fear. It sounds like we are doing the same thing. It’s cool, isn’t it?
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 6:45 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 6:41 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 6727 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Dada Kind:
I think you may be misunderstanding me on a couple points. I'll try to be more clear

It would be unfortunate if the average cynical person would, privately in their mind, translate "neurodivergence" to mean "mentally fucked up". Wouldn't it? My argument is that by primarily focusing the discussion of "neurodivergence" around disability/dysfunction/disorder one might be contributing to the above unfortunate outcome.

For example, most people probably hear the term around the discussion of "neurotypical", autism spectrum, etc. That's fine and accurate. Imagine this other hypothetical situation: wow, I just found out that my longterm friend has aphantasia! They are 'neurodivergent'. I never would have known. But, you know, it makes sense... they do think about some stuff in a weird way.

It's not a surprise that the latter example isn't common; types of 'neurodivergence' aren't well-identified yet. That's the interesting part!

Thanks for looking at the aphantasia thread


I think we want the same thing but use words differently.

Diversity is a group quality and the concept neurodiversity was coined to do exactly what you are talking about, to be able to discuss all different variants with no judgement. That’s important. We all have different ”neuro-variants”.

Divergence, on the other hand, focuses on only some of the variants, namely those who are statistically uncommon. It is important also to be able to talk about divergence, the less common variants, without jumping to the conclusion that there must be something wrong with those people (people like me). People like me sometimes need to connect with peers to share experiences without having to translate everything into what is understandable to neurotypical people. We often identify with our divergence (I’m talking about the mundane level of existance now, momentarily putting aside that there is no self) and feel great about that, embracing our ways of functioning. Neurotypical people often worry about that. They think that they know better than us what is good for us. They think that they need to remind us that we are persons as well. But you see, we already know that. We really don’t need anyone to tell us that. What we need is for neurotypical people to realize that there is no contradiction at all between being divergent and being a person. Humanity benefits from diversity, and without some people being divergent, there wouldn’t be much of diversity. Being autistic is not extreme. It is quite possible to live well as an autistic individual. What makes us feel bad and be dysfunctional is often the notion that we must be like everybody else. There is no reason for that.

So... if somebody thinks that I’m weird for embracing my way of functioning, that’s their problem. That just means that they need to work with themselves. Unless they mean weird in a good way. In that case, it’s for their benefit, because then they can enjoy my company.

People need to be able to hold two thoughts simultaneously.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 7:01 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 7:01 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 6727 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
Derek2:
Have you had any success with nutrition as a treatment for OCD or ADHD? I have been reading a bit about it on the Meat Heals website http://meatheals.com/category/mood-mental-health/ocd/ and in the Mikhaila Peterson videos on YouTube.



I don’t have OCD and I don’t want to be ”cured” from ADHD, since it’s just another way of functioning, not a disease.

I hold a very strict diet, though, because otherwise I feel fatigue and brain fog and muscle pain and have abdominal symptoms since a few years back. What I eat makes a huge difference to how I feel. I still have ADHD, though, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. It makes me notice things that other people’s filters prevent them from noticing, and that would actually both hamper my research and lower my quality of life. Too me, being normal seems pretty dull, no offence intended. To each their own.
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spatial, modified 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 9:01 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 9:01 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 614 Join Date: 5/20/18 Recent Posts
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Örulv:
 As for internal monologues, I used to believe they were central to how I think, because when I was younger I did that a lot, almost obsessively. Over the years I have come to realize that it was something I did (and sometimes still do but not that often) not for the purpose of thinking, but to translate my thoughts to other people - which I had to do because my thoughts had other shapes.

I was amused recently when a friend said he thought of me as a hyperverbal person (we communicate most frequently via email). I had to explain that no, actually I'm just translating into words the thoughts that are in another internal language entirely and actually it takes me quite a bit of effort. I also tend to think in nonlinear, multidimensional ways and suspect this is one of the reasons verbal communication is frustrating--it is VERY linear. 
I totally relate to this.
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Andromeda, modified 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 10:05 AM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 10:05 AM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 393 Join Date: 1/15/18 Recent Posts
spatial:
Andromeda:
Linda ”Polly Ester” Örulv:
 As for internal monologues, I used to believe they were central to how I think, because when I was younger I did that a lot, almost obsessively. Over the years I have come to realize that it was something I did (and sometimes still do but not that often) not for the purpose of thinking, but to translate my thoughts to other people - which I had to do because my thoughts had other shapes.

I was amused recently when a friend said he thought of me as a hyperverbal person (we communicate most frequently via email). I had to explain that no, actually I'm just translating into words the thoughts that are in another internal language entirely and actually it takes me quite a bit of effort. I also tend to think in nonlinear, multidimensional ways and suspect this is one of the reasons verbal communication is frustrating--it is VERY linear. 
I totally relate to this.

Are you saying that your thought process is more... spatial... than linear? ;)
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svmonk, modified 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 9:03 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 12/14/18 9:03 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

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J C, modified 3 Years ago at 1/5/19 4:41 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 1/5/19 4:41 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 644 Join Date: 4/24/13 Recent Posts
Dada Kind:
I have an approach to this topic which, based on this thread so far, appears to be... divergent. When I saw the title of this post the other day I had to read it twice. I thought I had accidentally submitted one of my drafts or something. I was going to post a thread with a very similar title.

I can't, however, tell how you're using the term "neurodivergent". Are you using the term as a euphemism for "mentally fucked up", or, politely, some deviation from the norm which causes problems, societal dysfunction, etc? You mentioning "ableistic society" suggests that to me.

I think there are advantages to considering a literal interpretation of the word "neurodivergent" -- any mental/cognitive/psychological deviation from the norm. You see, by emphasizing 'neurodivergence' which causes dysfunction, you'll tend to emphasize the most obvious 'neurodivergence', the extreme cases. By broadening the definition it's easier to consider everyone 'neurodivergent' to some degrees, in some ways. In a strange way, the conversation becomes more inclusive.

In particular, I think it's more interesting to think about non-obvious 'neurodivergence'. Are we different in ways that matter but which aren't obvious to us? I think the answer is yes. How these differences influence meditation is a super interesting question. For example, I made a thread about aphantasia and meditation:
https://www.dharmaoverground.org/discussion/-/message_boards/message/8915622

No responses, except for Chris emoticon

The reason I never posted my thread is that I don't really have many complete thoughts on this subject. Since you brought it up, kinda, I'll dump a couple notes/links:

I think the existence/strength of an "internal monologue" is another likely candidate for divergence. Consider this in the context of Daniel's "No Thought" chapter. Also, see:
https://www.reddit.com/r/self/comments/3yrw2i/i_never_thought_with_language_until_now_this_is/

In my mind SlateStarCodex is a cousin site to the DhO at this point. Here are two very relevant posts there,
http://slatestarcodex.com/2014/03/17/what-universal-human-experiences-are-you-missing-without-realizing-it/
http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/11/07/concept-shaped-holes-can-be-impossible-to-notice/

The comments are fascinating. One starts to wonder how people communicate effectively at all.

It's been years since I watched this talk, but, I think this all ties in nicely with a talk Daniel gave at Buddhist Geeks, It's a Jungle in There: What Contemplatives Can Learn from the Naturalists
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkEkL5XdUMk

That reddit post is really interesting. It sounds like the poster is describing the Mind and Body nana to me. Clearly the poster was in fact able to think in language before, as they were able to write - it just seems like they weren't previously aware of their thoughts as separate things.
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Linda ”Polly Ester” Ö, modified 3 Years ago at 1/5/19 5:13 PM
Created 3 Years ago at 1/5/19 5:13 PM

RE: Neurodivergence and insight

Posts: 6727 Join Date: 12/8/18 Recent Posts
My take on it is that people use a number of resources in their thinking. Language is one, obviously. I used to believe that words were my primary respurce for thinking, but I have come to realize that they are very often a translation and modification of something that I have already processed on a sensory level, not just as perception but as an interpretation, idea, plan, memory, fantasy... I have periods when I notice very clearly how draining language can be to me. I know exactly what I’m thinking but I can’t put it into words. It’s probably when my more intuitive side takes over.

So these people who thought they never used language to think - maybe they just didn’t think of it as thinking. Maybe they were more attentive to the sensory processing, and maybe they are very visual or kinestetic. Maybe they thought of language as mere translation. It is both. In putting a kinestetic or visual thought into words, it transforms into something else. And of course it’s not that linear. Sensory processing continues during the verbalization, so choice of wording also shapes sensory processing. Different sensory interput interact with each orher. It’s a complex interplay.