Vera Hamady: You wrote a book about your experience with autism and the gift of finding inner peace and acceptance through the practice of Zen. How this process of deep discovery transformed your life?
Anlor Davin: It is all about being better able to connect with others.
Since my sensory problems and the physical pain in my neck have abated, I can now explore new ways of connecting.
Here are a few typical examples. I can go to more zen events (short meditation sessions, half-days, full days and even retreats when a good scholarship is available.
I can go and meet a friend in a café, as long as it is a rather calm time of the day and at a convenient location. I am able to take public transportation and withstand its myriad artificial stimuli (cacaphony of noise, fragrance, and glints of lights…). I can stay in front of my computer screen without getting a headache from the glare and electro-magnetic waves (or wherever the dull sound comes from), and since I also can better communicate, I can also reach out to people like you!
In fact I feel so much stronger that on October 1 2016, I will be starting my own meditation group at Dominican University in San Rafael, CA. See www.autsit.net
Vera Hamady: Who can benefit from reading your book? And why did you decide to bring your story to the world?
Anlor Davin: Many people do not know what ails them, autism has such a negative bias attached to it that we can’t believe we may be autistic. My book can help a reader figure not only for themselves, but also better understand their autistic children’s world.
Many people are touched by autism these days, so my book can benefit varied, connected types of them. To be of help in such a way, by talking about my autism, is the reason why I “decided to bring my story to the world” (I just love this way of saying it).
Vera Hamady: Do you think that alternative treatments and meditation can really help autistic patients?
Anlor Davin: Absolutely! Meditation has a positive effect on almost everyone who practices it regularly. Just like when one goes to the gym, it takes repetition and discipline in order to see the effects.
Faith is an important component too, it will take time but the wheels of your life will slowly go back on tracks.
Maybe some people need to meditate while walking slowly (“kinhin” in the Soto zen jargon I know), or even lying down, but the posture in which the breath’s current is the freest to move and the mind is clearest, is upright sitting.
I can talk about the beauty of Zen practice forever, but it is also like a recipe (I did not come up with this image). You can know it by heart and have all the ingredients on hand, but until you do it, you do not KNOW it.
Everyone is different and will experience meditation in various ways.
Just keep at it, keep coming back to the breath.
Vera Hamady: Did writing this book changed your relationship with France and your past? And in which ways?
Anlor Davin: To my surprise, writing this book has had a big impact on my relationship with France.
For one, it helped me better understand what happened to me in France, and that no one is really to blame. My zen practice helped with that one too!
When I first came to the US almost thirty years ago, I was so angry that I did not want to have anything to do with France and French people. Nowadays, I am back to being somewhat proud of being French!
Also, when I go to France now, I no longer have anxiety or butterflies in my tummy as the plane is about to land. I can actually enjoy the French culture, its beautiful architecture, and its people.
Finally, I see that when it comes to autism French people try very hard and seriously try to understand. France was not always that way in regard to autism. Since I was formally diagnosed 6 years ago, I have visited several autism organizations in France, and their welcome has always been phenomenal.
Vera Hamady: Do you plan to have it translated into French?
Anlor Davin: Since my part-time job these days is translation, I have already started to translate my book into French. It is interesting to see how, even though it has only been a few years, I already want to change some of the things I wrote! All I need now is to find a French publisher who my American publisher will be happy to work with.
“Being seen“ is available on Amazon. To order, click here.