Autism & Zazen:  Does shared quiet presence lessen felt isolation in autism?

Again, my name is Greg, aka Puzzleboy. I am autistic, with a special interest in the needs of autistic people. To that end, I seek volunteers to test whether simply sitting attentively and still together, a practice that in one potent form is called zazen, can lessen the social isolation of autism. Both autistic and neurotypical participants are welcome. I come to the test biased by almost forty years of zazen practice. My experience is that shared quiet presence increases both the reality and the sense of social connection. That said, I am autistic and a feeling of great remoteness from other people is a continuing feature of my life — so I bring a large store of isolation to the test! Zazen is better suited to durable change over time than it is to any quick fix. If you are autistic and want to be less isolated, or if you are neurotypical and want to begin or to continue basic meditative practice while possibly doing some good, then please consider participating in one or more of the following experiments:

The Experiments

  1. Contact (e.g. text) each other with occasional requests/offers of a single breath of remote shared presence, with contact frequency – as little as once in a lifetime – and other details to be set by agreement.
  2. Make a date to sit upright and still together, more than is strictly comfortable – sometime in the next decade, year, or month. This gives a taste of what zazen has to offer.
  3. Plan and realize a day or days of more intense sitting practice tailored to particular temperaments and interests.

This is really one Experiment with a spectrum of increasing intensities. I am particularly interested in the first, single-breath experiment because it is a practice that is easy to integrate with everyday life. A moment of shared quiet presence may not seem much, but it is a meeting at ground zero in the explosion of life. If you want more there are always the other two options! Given my autism shared quiet presence is the only place I can actually meet and so I would enjoy meeting you there. Contact me at godzen.net@gmail.com if you would like to try any of the experiments. If you are not able to practice quiet presence with me consider trying it with other people.

The insight that urges the experiment ...and the website name