Mindfulness or living in the moment and not either ruminating over past events or living for the future is a skill that has been shown to help reduce the anxiety that people with autism often face because of how they get treated by others. According to Kathryn MacIntyre-Yee a therapist who works at the Personalized Recovery Oriented Services (PROS) in Rochester, NY: “mindfulness or living in the moment prevents people with autism from dwelling on negative life experiences or worrying about what the future may bring and allows them to live stress-free.”
Kathryn MacIntyree-Yee a therapist at the PROS program in Rochester, NY and Joe an autistic person discuss how meditation and mindfulness can benefit people on the autism spectrum. (Audio: Michael Israel; Photo: Michael Israel; Music: Dan Bull)
The Body Mind Float Center is located in Rochester, NY and uses floatation tanks to help people become mindful by blocking out all external stimuli so that they can focus on their mind and enter a meditative state of mind. Joe says that using the float tanks feels like “he has been reborn like a heavy weight has been lifted off of him. Before I found the Zen Center, the float tanks were the only place where I could truly relax and unwind.”
Another place in Rochester, NY where people can come to start learning how to meditate and become mindful is the Rochester Zen Center (rzc) which has operated in Rochester for the last 50 years. According to Joe, “while the float tanks are a good tool to help you relax, the Zen Center teaches a method that can be used anywhere and doesn’t require any expensive equipment. Zen meditation is like learning how to fish, and the float tank is like buying and eating a fish. You will get much more out of learning how to fish than you would if you kept on purchasing a fish when you want to eat one.”
A diagram showing how meditation and mindfulness have been shown to help to improve the functioning of the human brain. (Infographic: Michael Israel)
People with autism can benefit from learning how to meditate and become more mindful because meditating and becoming mindful has been proven to help people with autism reduce their anxiety levels.