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.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation this month unveiled a grand art project dedicated to the history of vaccines. The Art of Saving a Life is a virtual gallery of images, films, music, stories, GIFs, and other compelling content. Artists from all over the world were commissioned to tell the story of vaccines and their miraculous power to save lives.
The Foundation hopes to bring attention to the subject, educate the public and build further support for the charities that dispense vaccines in countries with the greatest need: United Nations Foundation, The World Health Organization, UNICEF, CDC, Gavi, Rotary, Save the Children, The Global Poverty Project.
(Image © Sophie Blackall)
The works of art are really worth admiring, exploring, reading and raving about. Browsing page after page, one sees that talent and engagement on the part of artists have produced an exhaustive and visually fascinating account of what vaccines have done for the human race, what they could have done if they were used, and what they could do in the future to stop epidemics like Ebola.
Some of the stories are daunting, but beautiful and humbling in their truth. Some artists tell a personal story, others use imagination and historical facts to render what is magnificent – namely the determination of the human spirit to help those in need. (Image: © Deborah Kelly)
The Art of Saving a Life is a gorgeous homage to vaccines and their creators and to the force of art in increasing our awareness and expanding human consciousness. Here are some of my favorite art works:
Luc Jacquet / The Race for Life / La Course A La Vie — © 2014 Wild-Touch
“Academy Award winning French filmmaker Luc Jacquet directed The Race for Life (La Course A La Vie in French), an arresting short film that underscores the value of vaccines for children’s health and strength. Here, we see children racing through difficult terrain. As they run, they encounter various obstacles – insect bites, dangerous cuts, and harsh weather to name a few—but are able to persevere as they have been vaccinated. Luc worked with young actors on this film, set mainly in the spectacular Parc Naturel Régional du Vercors and on the Dunes de l’Espiguette in France.”
Lang Lang / Afternoon of a Faun — © 2014 Lang Lang Productions
“Chinese pianist Lang Lang conjures the tragedy of how the career of one of the world’s greatest dancers suddenly ended. In the mid-20th century, Tanaquil “Tanny” LeClercq was a principal dancer at the New York City ballet, a muse to her husband Balanchine and to choreographer Jerome Robbins. Prior to departing for a European tour in the autumn of 1956, each member of her ballet company received the polio vaccine as a precaution. Tanny decided against it. One month later she contracted polio in Copenhagen and collapsed. Paralyzed, she would never walk or dance again. She was 27 years old. Here, Lang Lang performs Debussy’s Afternoon of a Faun, the famous pas de deux Tanny danced with Jacque D’Ambroise, as a film of their dance flickers behind him on stage.”
GMB Akash / Crossing the Waterways in Bangladesh — © 2014 GMB Akash
“GMB Akash shows how health workers go the distance to try and reach every Bangladeshi child. By boat on remote waterways and by foot through sandy pathways, Akash follows health workers as they bring vaccines to some of the most remote areas of Bangladesh. Akash spent many days in the field, lovingly capturing almost every aspect of the country’s successful vaccination program. In his photos, young mothers cross flood zones with their babies in their arms to reach the health clinic; an elderly man transports vaccines to a remote island by boat; and pregnant women receive antenatal care, including tetanus vaccine. He also captures young children ill in hospital with pneumonia, for which Bangladesh will soon introduce a vaccine.”
Angélique Kidjo sings a Kenyan song with the Women of Merti:
Rakeysh Mehra / The girl who kicked the ball
Yuna / It’s a new day
To pierce through the infinity of the sky and find the answers you need in life!
To cultivate Compassion for you, others and animals!
To have peaceful moments and be in the silence and beauty of nature!
To have Fun and Dance, and Join the party!
To enjoy unexpected encounters!
To find the time to meditate and admire the marvel you are, and discover your true potential!
And to peel off the layers that are not serving your path, so you can illuminate the sheer beauty you are made off.