Fourteenth Post – Contemplation

One year ago – oh dear, so long… – I wrote about “spiritual gravity” because my boyfriend’s seminar in contemplation has spurred my philosophical thinking.

He successfully convinced me to join him for that same seminar a year later – two weeks ago – because he thought I might benefit from it. The last weeks were emotionally troublesome so I welcomed the idea of a respite away from everything.

As expected, the weekend-long silence wasn’t hard for me; I enjoyed being quiet and more so being surrounded by quietness all the time. Joining the mass at the monastery’s church, however, didn’t give me any positive feedback like it did for my boyfriend. It made me feel left out, separated. When everyone stood up and said “amen” or did that cross sign I just stood there quietly. Not doing anything made me feel left out, just repeating what everyone else was doing would have made me feel like a liar. It’s not my faith.

The next breaks I spent walking through nature, taking pictures, listening to the birds and wind. That felt much closer to my “spiritual gravity”.

Contemplation itself… I tried my best until Saturday evening, when I realised, after the discussion round, why I, again, felt left out. Most people described their struggle with emotions welling up inside them, trouble with staying in that moment, enjoying the small things, opening towards the presence of God (it IS a Christian meditation technique). I felt no emotions at all. I felt completely neutral throughout the meditation sessions. That was the first hint for me that it seemed to be different for me.

Also, most things the monk guiding through the meditation said seemed very familiar to me. Focusing on this very moment; I do that every day. In fact, I only really feel myself if I can be in this very moment. My trouble is when the world forces me to do otherwise. Opening myself to the presence of God; as I said in my previous post, I’ve always felt what I termed “spiritual gravity”, it’s just not something I spend much thought on. It’s just there. And lastly, there’s something called the “death of the ego”; it means to not have any expectations, aspirations, wishes for oneself. That is actually currently my biggest issue. Not having any aspirations for myself. My goal in life is that those I love are happy. The rest doesn’t matter too much to me. My career, for instance.

After realising that these goals you’re supposed to work towards in this seminar are things I’ve always had in my life, I felt sad and lost for a while. After talking about it I understood that there’s no reason to be sad, really. It’s a reason to be happy. I AM all this what other people try to reach. I feel like this empty bowl that you’re supposed to become – here my boyfriend said he wished I could see how overflowing with love and holiness I truly am.

I felt happier then, but still a little lost in the contemplation as I didn’t know what to strive for if I already had reached those things. The silent, calm focusing on my breath felt still nice but somehow… shallow. Aimless. I’d need a mediation that gives me strength to go through those moments I cannot be in that very moment, when I have to have aspirations for myself, when I have to find a motivation to live my own life for myself, rather than for the people I love. I felt that contemplation was not what my soul needs right now, because it already has all which it could gain from that.

Sounds a little arrogant, writing that here like this. Considering how many people follow these meditations, read self-help books, etc. But I have other struggles. I fail at understanding the world all these people swim through like fish in water.

My boyfriend said I have a spiritual obligation to finish my therapy training and help other people struggling in this world. Maybe he is right.

 

And maybe I won’t take ANOTHER year for my next entry…

Spiritual Gravity

One of my boyfriends’ spiritual experience and the subsequent dialogue with him prompted me to try and put my thoughts into better words – i.e. written ones. I have trouble finding the right terms and expressions while speaking, “on the go”, so to say, but when I’m writing my brain seems to work more efficiently in conveying what I want to express.

The seminar – contemplation – was something that seemed to have left a lasting impression within him and I’m happy for that. I did notice he seemed increasingly restless and … lost … I guess, and if this is something that he can use to show himself the way, I’m grateful he found it (I might not have been very good in expressing that at that moment – my curiosity sometimes usually takes over and pushes my empathy aside). I’m also not good at just unquestioningly accepting other people’s viewpoints without having them explained to me; not out of critique or doubt but out of curiosity. But I do know that, I make people think they need to defend themselves when I ask questions about what they say – despite my best efforts to express my judgement-free interest and probably due to my lacking sense of when to stop probing. However, I mainly just want to compare viewpoints to my own and see how they differ. Scientific interest, so to say.

What he told me about his experience made me think about how I see/sense/feel the world around me, because much of what he said he’s searching/trying to get closer to are impressions (for the lack of a better word) that I just experience as integrated within my being/experience. Maybe that is why I don’t have the feeling of missing something in a spiritual sense. To me, what he described as the view behind the scene, the experience of what is behind the existence you just see and feel every day, is like.. spiritual gravity (is that then… spirity?). I don’t always consciously think about this spiritual gravity but I sense/feel it and some experiences make me focus on it – but it’s nonetheless always there, surrounding and permeating. And from what I know, it’s always been like that. I’ve never felt that there’s something missing in my existence or that there has to be “more”. To me, I know that there is “more”; I feel it every day. (Reminding me of the “Agents of Shield” episode with the berserker staff…).

Thus, it’s not something.. special, in that sense. It’s not something I have to talk about or feel the need to share with others. You wouldn’t have the urge to share with your neighbors how you felt gravity today, would you? Besides, I’m not a very extrovertedly oriented person – in this case, socially-spiritually, not emotionally; feeling the need to connect with others through spirituality. That is why I don’t understand the need of people to convince others about their beliefs. Isn’t that something.. internal? My beliefs, this (sub)conscious sense for – I can’t think of a better term – spiritual gravity, is a part of my being, my soul, if you will. I don’t have to find a group of people to have it confirmed, strengthened or reinforced, much less feel the urge to throw it at other people. Just spiritually, I know sense my place in this universe with all its connections, layers and complexity and it feels awesomely beautiful – it also makes me feel amazingly tiny and paradoxically totally insignificant and hugely significant at the same time. Does that sound presumptuous? I don’t know. I never thought myself better than anyone else just because I don’t need a religious construct to feel like that. Actually, I’ve never thought about that this might be what other people are searching for their entire life – and maybe it isn’t after all. I just know that it makes me feel … in safe hands.

Just without the personification. To me, that … gravity… doesn’t have a consciousness. I don’t say it’s like a physical force that follows fixed, mathematical rules, or so, but it doesn’t have a true consciousness, something that thinks and observes. Maybe it senses… I should call it semi-conscious, I guess. It’s hard to explain; I think it can be attracted and influenced but it doesn’t “think”.

I think an inherit trait of consciousness is to reflect, to question, to develop, to decide in one way and not the other, to feel. And to me, it’s a strange thought that the upmost, supreme .. existence/force/power is “someone”, rather than “something”. I understand that people feel safer then, taken care of. But I also see it as very… human, this need ( I always said, I don’t feel like one ;) ). It’s a little hard to describe but when my mind looks at religion, it’s a wonderfully complex, elaborate, sometimes beautiful and sometimes ugly construct (still in progress) but it’s very plainly (being) constructed by humans. And even this construct and its builders are, to me, permeated by this spiritual gravity and if I want to engage with it, I do that on a curious, analytical level, because spiritually/emotionally I already feel myself sensing the underlying force itself. It’s just interesting to see what other people/cultures make out of it – and sometimes it’s horrifying, too…

I do understand the social aspect and its importance, especially for whole cultures as humans seem to need these guidelines to feel safe, protected, connected and also to look after each other. I just.. don’t. I observe these needs and know where they come from but, spiritually, I don’t feel that. I do need connections. I don’t think I’d be able to live in isolation, although I believe I’d be better with that than many, but I have my connections to special people, people I love, and those are perfect. If the world was empty but for those few, I’d be just as happy as I am now (and sometimes happier) – obviously at an emotional level, not counting the material inconveniences like no internet or new video games (*gasp*). And I don’t say that in arrogance or think that my “way” is better. I just don’t function like that and thus occasionally clash with cultural/religious/social human behaviour and opinions (but at least the world would be more peaceful if more people felt like me).

A rather daring theory would be now that I am good at “touching”/comforting people emotionally because I sense and/or focus this gravity. I’ve always wondered how it is that I seem to be able to make the people I care for comforted and calmed even though I can’t relate to many things on an emotional level. I can either analyse the issue or try to … softly stroke their agitated souls, so to speak. It much feels like comforting a hurt animal, to me, something fragile and fluttering that is injured. I want to wrap a protective and healing gravity cloak around it and the words I say are usually just secondary – it’s actually much like what everyone else would say in this situation, I think. But as I said, that’s a very colourful interpretation. It was fun thinking about it, though.

PS. I chose gravity because it is something that is all-permeating. There’s no way to shield off gravity. But it could also be described as a kind of spiritual cosmic background radiation, of course. Furthermore, my choice was inspired by watching “Interstellar” recently (a very long but also very good film that is less a science-fiction and more a story about .. exactly this kind of spiritual search). There, all these basic questions are touched in connection with time – and a human life span – and one of the lasting answers is that there is only one thing that can permeate time and space: gravity. But then, they find a second one: Love. :)

Autism Awareness Day 2014

Today is Autism Awareness Day.

And, coincidentally, also Children’s Book Day. I like that, since I love reading and I like many children’s books, still.

I actually feel like a child in many ways. Instinctively, I associate myself with children rather than adults, and emotionally, I’d guess my age at something between 9 and 17. I’m overwhelmed by the complexity of adult life, stubborn with complicated formalities and I have to struggle a lot to do things I deem meaningless – but which have to be done due to social or formal reasons.

I can be enthusiastic about toys, games, childish jokes and I absolutely love my plush doll collection.

But this is about autism awareness.

 

Since receiving my diagnosis, I’ve been feeling more relaxed and content. I know it doesn’t really change anything; I haven’t applied for any support or care, because my parents and my boyfriend currently provide all the support and care I need. But it did make a difference for me personally. It feels right.

Although I often challenge the diagnosis. I ask myself stupid questions like “wasn’t that a very un-autistic thought?” or “would someone with autism really have done/said/felt that?”. I know there’s no real comparison. Even with diagnosed Asperger’s sydrome, I’m not a sum of symptoms. And I do have very “normal” characteristics – but I also have very “autistic” traits. I just usually don’t notice that because no one in my immediate surrounding provides any triggers – they all accept me with my quirks and don’t expect me to be like any other 29-year-old.

When I do interact with someone close to my age, I am suddenly very aware of how different I seem to function. But that is my “awareness”. What about the others’? Autism spectrum disorders are invisible as far as physical traits are concerned. Sometimes I want to tell those outside-people: I’m not weird, I’m autistic and just because you don’t notice the challenges I overcome,  it doesn’t mean I can’t be proud of it.

But would that help? Do I WANT people to know? Will they then still see that I am more than a collection of symptoms?

 

I’m applying for graduate studies at a new university. I’m wondering if I should make them aware of my AS. I probably will as I DO have troubles with some types of examination, especially if it includes group work and participation in seminars.

Fourteenth Post

In a discussion with my boyfriend about the perception of people around us, we developed a model we later called “Pinocchioisation Process”

We were walking hand in hand along a street in Berlin when a man walked past us saying something like “now, just hold on really tight.” I was rather confused because I couldn’t understand what he was talking about but my boyfriend Stefan said it was a derogatory comment about our holding hands as a couple and Stefan went on about how that man had seemed defensive, angry, lonely and self-conscious to him. To me, he was just a blank, “mannequin-like” being to which I attributed no emotions or background.

Together we explored my perception of the people around us and ended with the image that unknown people indeed do have a “mannequin”-image to me, except that I, of course, know them to be people, they move and talk and thus give glimpses of something like different motivations or intentions. But all in all they are blank puppets to me. Just when I get to know someone, they become more and more a person. I still don’t credit them with an inner life of their own, most times – not intuitively, at least – but they develop personalities, characteristics and meaning. In a way, it mimics the transformation from the wooden doll Pinocchio into a real boy, hence the name of the process.

I don’t know if that is typical for people with asperger’s syndrome – I don’t know anyone else. Is it?

What do you think?

Close-up Flowers 06

A few pictures of flowers in our garden.

I’m still not too familiar with using manual focus so sometimes it is a little off target. I still liked the pictures, though. Feel free to comment. :)

 

 

Thirteenth Post

This one is on auditory sensitivity.

Sometimes I am not sure if my auditory cognition can be called “sensitive”; I do not feel overwhelmed in that sense, when I am outside or in a store or at a place with many people. I feel stressed and drained and I tire very quickly, loud sounds make me flinch and cover my ears but visual stimuli are not as bad. What makes me think that my hearing is overly sensitive is the fact that I seem to hear many things other cannot – or they hear but do not listen. When someone opens our front door, my family’s cars on the street, the cat scratching at the window, our washing machine’s warning signal from the basement, etc. We can even be watching a film and I still hear things like that. I tend to get caught up with details or small things I like to look at when there is a lot of visual input but I do not really feel overrun by it and it does not tax me as much as auditory input – I think, because I can decide to look at something or not but I cannot decide to hear something or not. Control is an important factor, I suppose. It is not entirely about loud sounds or many sounds at once but about anticipating these sounds or being able to control them.

In fact, I do not like silence – because it is never really silent. What most people call “silence” is in fact filled with annoying and distracting little sounds like breathing, chewing, traffic, moving and talking people outside, leaves, birds, etc. I like music, because it covers those sounds with something that makes sense, something controllable. I basically listen to music all the time – on my radio, mp3-player or just in my head.

Recently I read about the quietest room on earth, where it is so quiet that most people cannot stand the silence more than a few minutes. I would very much like to be in one, some time. Although it will, of course, not be totally silent, either. I will still hear my own heartbeat, breathing, etc. – which can be annoying as it is, already. That is why I do not like earplugs. They just replace outside noise with inside noise… Sometimes my body’s sounds keep me from falling asleep but I cannot very well switch them off. I lie awake and listen to the change of my heartbeat when I breathe slower or faster. Sometimes it skips a beat which is especially uncomfortable.

To me, “silence” is actually best described with white noise because it drowns everything else – even my thoughts. That feels very nice, sometimes. I now have a room with a bed directly under the roof of our house and when it is raining, the rain on the window sounds like white noise. I love that. I wish it would always be raining when I have to fall asleep.

 

Twelfth Post

[I think I have never written the word “twelfth” before, it looks really funny.]

 

Another post about friendship – inspired by several long discussions with my best friend and my boyfriend.

To me, friendship is an affectionate and cognitive non-physical bond with people that came to mean very much to me. The difference to what most people mean by friendship is, that frequent contact, especially face-to-face, is not a necessity for me. In that way it differs from love which has a far stronger physical factor and thus requires if not necessarily proximity, at least immediate and personal contact.

I think both relationship types are influenced by my … immediacy … concerning the perception of other people.

First, people lose some of their substance when they are not in immediate contact with me; they become “disembodied” in a way. This also entails that they lose “momentum” – I would not ask a friend I have not seen for a while what happened in their life because I lack the intuitive recognition that they HAVE a life outside the time when we are in contact. Of course I cognitively recognise that they do not freeze in time as soon as I close the door but it is still difficult to transfer that to an intuitive, affectionate curiosity. To me, they are somewhat like porcelain figures on a shelf as long as they are not in actual contact with me; I can look at them, draw happiness from their existence and affectionately clean the dust away once in a while. I enjoy the time whenever I do have contact with my friends but it is not actually necessary very often. As long as I know they care that can be totally fine with me. And I do care about them very deeply, but it is rather difficult to explain how you can care about someone and not feel a compulsion to contact them frequently to take part in their life.

With love, on the other hand, this entails that each period of separation is a new “chapter” for me; a new situation in which I have to find a confirmation that my loved one and the bond between us has not changed and can be applied equally to this new day as to the last one.

I once read an example of a girl with Asperger’s who did not adhere to the instruction to raise her hand before speaking in class because when the picture was taken to illustrate what she should do, she wore a red shirt but on the next day she wore a blue one. She did not transfer the generality of the instruction to hold true no matter if she looked exactly like the picture or not. I never applied this example to myself because I CAN understand instructions separate from the situation or myself; however, I think that is still the same underlying problem with emotional situations. I do not generalise people or relationships. If someone says “I love you” on one day, with a red shirt, so to speak, I do not generalise that to the next, blue shirt day – emotionally, that is. When we see each other again, in a way, I am exploring my feelings and my loved one anew each day (and I do not think that is something negative, really, as long as it does not lead to irritation in the other).

I think I do not really need this confirmation with my friends because friendship is a more intellectual relationship. It is, to me, more easily grasped than love; more easily tied to common interests, similarities in character and activities. Love is difficult to define, especially why you love someone and even more why you are being loved by someone. Emotions are invisible and more often than not my own are quite enigmatic to me, not to mention those of someone else.