I have Autism, I have ADHD, and as such I have anxiety. When I was younger, a child, a teen, my anxiety sat at extreme levels and I really struggled to cope with everyday things. This biological predisposition to anxiety was accentuated by my childhood experience. I grew up in low socioeconomic conditions without a father, and a mother who struggled with her own mental illnesses. I was the poster child for bad behaviour, and I was known widely in both my Primary and High Schools. I was ‘that’ kid.
My mother’s own significant anxiety influenced me even before I was born. It is known that a mother whom experiences high levels of stress (measured through the release of the stress-hormone cortisol) during pregnancy, gives birth to a baby that also experiences a high baseline level of stress (cortisol); thus, the child is significantly more sensitive to perceived negative events & stimuli. My biology was primed for action, for survival, even before I was born.
My life has been tough, to say the least; the cards really haven’t been stacked up in my favour. I’m now 25 years old, and I’ve been meditating daily for over 3 years (at least 20 minutes a day), and most recently (the last 3 months), I’ve been adhering to a 20-40m daily yoga practice. Meditation has had the single most impact on my life in terms of stress reduction and increased quality of life, more so than rigorous exercise, than plant medicine, or, anything else. Meditation allowed me to gain a greater conscious control over our reaction to things, by reducing the size of my amygdala; but don’t listen to me, listen to science:
“MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” center, the amygdala, appears to shrink. … As the amygdala shrinks, the prefrontal cortex – associated with higher order brain functions such as awareness, concentration and decision-making – becomes thicker.”https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/what-does-mindfulness-meditation-do-to-your-brain/
This is particularly interesting because it illustrates how we are not the master in our own house; we are subject to our biology, and we are controlled by it. Now shine to shine the light of awareness of 22 years of intense struggle with mental illness and disability; allowing me to see the reasons for why I react in certain ways, why I thought things and the core essence of many of my beliefs (I’m not perfect!). To see is to become conscious, to become aware of the realities of your life; to engage in an active wrestling with the complexities of existence viewed through the best perspective you can have, for yourself, right at that moment in time. To this I mean: Awareness allows you to see, but it doesn’t make you omnipotent and all knowing, that is to say, there are many things you don’t know, and many things that you don’t know that you don’t know.
The depth of the universe and the complexities of life, are, both, simultaneously infinitely deep and inexplicably complex, offering a sense of bewilderment and confusion; nothing can be known in absolute, as such, the degree to which conclusions or rules can be broken down into instances where shades of grey are innumerable.
This spectrum of shades-of-grey have to, at some point, go from being one thing to another thing. For example:
When the moon is high in the sky, conspicuous against the velvet backdrop, it is clear as day, that it is night.Dylan Tanner
As the moon fades into the background, as the sun slowly rises; the transition from dusk to dawn is underway.
When the sky is high in the sky, conspicuous, glaring and beaming it’s rays down onto the earth, it is clear as day, this it is day.
The spectrum exists, yes; nobody is disputing this. But eventually the grey metamorphoses to black or white; the final shades at opposing ends of the spectrum of grey.