Cultivating Harmony

We are so happy to be offering the first Essentials of Mindfulness Meditation class for the Neurodiverse Community. For all of us, being amongst like-minded people can support us in feeling a sense of belonging. To be recognized, welcomed, accepted, and valued for who we are as individuals contributes to our good mental and physical health.

A number of years ago I was preparing to teach a meditation class when I met a student that I recognized in the waiting area. They proceeded to tell me about the difficulties they had encountered elsewhere when attending a sitting group. Their anxiety had skyrocketed trying to figure out how to meditate sitting still “like everyone else” while needing to move around during the class.  It had become an impossible situation for them. They knew that meditation was useful for managing stress and anxiety but in this setting they were feeling worse than ever! 

The student was longing to sit with others who had the earnest desire to practice. After class, the teacher asked them not to return to the class since the student had been “disruptive”.  The student interpreted this as feeling “expelled,” like a bad student.

The student and I took time and talked about what they would need to feel comfortable in a silent sitting group. I explained the general structure of the class. We worked out a way that they could calm themselves and practice during the silence without disturbing others. 

Each week, the student and I checked in before class and reflected on how they were feeling and what they needed to do that day to be comfortable in the group. We brainstormed new strategies and reinforced those that worked. I witnessed the student becoming much less anxious, happier, and relaxed, as they discovered what was practical and workable for them. They were learning how to help themselves have a successful practice on their own terms within the parameters of the group. Isn’t that what Mindfulness is all about?

I tell you this story because it, along with many others, has provided the inspiration to offer our classes. We hope to help other neurodiverse folks to cultivate a new community and to experience ease of well-being.

Lisette Palley, LMFT, OTR/L has been involved with meditation, yoga and tai chi since she was a teenager when she began practicing Transcendental Meditation. Her first meditation retreats were with Stephen and Ondrea Levine in the 1980’s, where she worked with issues around death and dying, and the AIDS crisis. She began her Vipassana/Insight meditation practice with them. She has been practicing at InsightLA with Trudy Goodman and other InsightLA teachers since 2008. She has sat retreats at Spirit Rock Meditation Center with Joseph Goldstein and James Baraz and at InsightLA with Kate Lila Wheeler, Trudy Goodman, Beth Sternlieb, and others. She is a graduate of the InsightLA Facilitator Training Program
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