Mindfulness and the Spectrum
Two typical traits for those with Asperger’s are black and white thinking and a tendency to ruminate, to stew thinking about something. With black and white thinking, we see things in extremes, all bad or all good. When we’re depressed, that tends to be all bad.
All bad isn’t realistic; life is always a mix. Things don’t always go wrong. People aren’t always hostile or rejecting. Ruminating means dwelling on something, usually negative when we’re depressed. As we dwell on our thoughts, they tend to become more dramatic, more overwhelming, more conclusive of our negativity. It’s like a downward spiral.
Both black and white thinking and rumination focus on the past, revisiting what has happened, or in the future, anticipating what
what might happen. We’re rarely in the present. Most often, at this exact moment, nothing too stressful is happening.
Cultivating mindfulness helps us to create space around these one-sided limiting thoughts. The practice brings us back to this present moment, and recognizing what is true in this moment. Focus can be on attending to our breath, what we hear, bodily sensations, or what we’re doing, like the feelings of washing dishes, the soap on our hands, the feeling of the water, the texture of the plate and glass. This pulls us out of the past and future into the present, which tends to be calmer.
When we meditate we become calmer physically and emotionally, and we come into the present moment. We learn to let go of thoughts and feelings and begin to recognize them to be what they are, thoughts and feelings that change.
This allows us to step back from all that negative thinking and rumination, and realize that those thoughts are only thoughts, and feelings only feelings. Thoughts and feelings pass, and no matter how extreme, they are not all there is to reality. It’s like having a program taking up your whole computer screen, and then minimizing it so that it’s just an icon in the corner – still there, but not crowding out everything else.
Here are a few resources for those on the Spectrum to help learn how Mindfulness can help them.