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  • Writer's pictureDeirdre Azzopardi

Loving What Is

In this choiceless, never ending flow of life There is an infinite array of choices One alone brings happiness To love what is..

Dorothy Hunt

There are two themes in the spiritual journey that seem to be at odds, or at least at odds within my own head. One is the living out of your dharma, your purpose, the idea that you should be striving to be enlightened or as Maslow puts it, self-actualized. The other is to let go of struggle, to surrender to what is and deal with the reality that is in front of you in a kind, non-judgemental manner. I have spent many years in the former. I write goals, I say the affirmations. I am always thinking about the next thing and the next thing after that. I feel like I am constantly trying to figure out what I will do when I grow up, no matter how many birthday candles I add to my cake. Can anyone relate? And what does this have to do with our work with neurodiverse children?

As therapists and teachers we are tasked to evaluate students, find their deficits, and then come up with goals to close the gap from where they are to where the “should be" according to the tests. Our interventions then are focused on remediating these deficits. This is akin to the idea that we are pushing children to be their best and we have decided who that best version is by comparing them to their neurotypical peers. Do we ever stop to ask ourselves if this practice is actually supporting children ? For me when I am overly focused on these preconceived “deficits” then I can easily slip into an orientation away from the now and into the future when their goals will be attained. I can easily miss the child who is in front of me because I am thinking about the child they could be at some later, imagined date.

Does our deficit orientation also make us overly judgemental? Perhaps the constant judgment of children matches the constant critic in our own heads. I know when I am in a place where I am listening to my inner critic I feel hopeless. Life is not quite right. I need to be somewhere else, doing something else, being someone else. The nagging sense that my current life is not how it “should be", and that I need improving, is of course reinforced daily. If we felt like enough, right now, then we wouldn’t need to buy the next product or take the next class to improve. It can feel like there is no end to our need for an upgrade. This incessant cycle is where many disabled children find themselves hoisted into by well meaning adults. We may say we want what is best for children but what may actually be best is full acceptance of the child as they are right now. Disability advocates have been saying this all along. They want to be accepted for the people that they are, not for who we want them to be.

My personal mindfulness practice helps to remind me of the enoughness in every situation. When I am present I remember to embrace the life that is before me. I can quiet the inner critic for myself and let go of judgment of others. I remember to be grateful for the full humanity of the imperfect child in my care and accept my own imperfect nature. The moment that we have is always the perfect environment for growth, When we relax into the now then development happens naturally. Neurodiverse children need our support to grow and change but this support needs to come from a place of worthiness and abundance, not lack and judgment. Loving what is, as Dorothy Hunt says it, helps us to enter into the flow of life. We don’t have to push, we instead allow, which is a recipe for happiness not just for the kids, but for us as well.

If you are interested in bringing more mindfulness to your life or to the lives of the neurodiverse children that you serve I have course offerings and will be presenting live in upcoming months. Stay tuned for more details and check out my course the Mindful Sensations Therapeutic Approach.. We all need CE credits anyway so why not get credits that will enhance your life while also serving children. Everyday is the perfect day to find happiness in our lives and in our work.

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