family Are you like me in that you wonder about this immense and growing epidemic of autism? Why is it happening? I mean, besides our toxic environment and the unsafe amounts of vaccinations and gut-destroying medications that are administered to our children?

My ears perked up when someone asked Byron Katie, the spiritual teacher, about the massive increases in autism. Her take on it is that these kids are a metaphor for us: living in a fog, in their own blurry world. She said that they are reminding us to look at our own fog; they are serving as a mirror to the rest of us.

This brings us to yoga. Yoga is defined in many ways, but I think I will satisfy every devotee if I say that, simply put, it is the path of waking up. It also applies to Buddhism:  Shortly after his enlightenment, for instance, a couple of his friends asked the Buddha what had changed for him. He replied, simply, “I am awake.”

Another word for this awakened state is superconsciousness — a higher, clearer awareness, one that transcends our usual modus operandi. The opposite of living in a fog.

I’ve been pondering the connection of autism to my own personal state of consciousness – or unconsciousness, depending on the moment.

I haven’t always lived consciously. There were some painful things that happened in my childhood, and my favored way of coping was to live subconsciously. As a teenager I discovered how eating vast amounts of wheat made everything blurry (Surprise! My kid is allergic to gluten!), and I used it extensively to numb myself.

What followed, of course, were various legal and illegal substances and behaviors — all done with the mostly unacknowledged desire to not be present. I could go into detail, but chances are that you have your own version of having been there and done that.

By some grace, I started waking up in my early twenties, and my path became one of continued awakening. As the years went by I found great joy in being present, in having a calm, clear mind, in connecting to my heart and to the Sacredness in everything and everyone. I stayed away from those addictions that brought down this awareness.

Then we got Joseph’s diagnosis: autism. I remember telling a friend that, upon hearing the diagnosis, I developed an insatiable craving for chocolate. She kindly went and got me a number of chocolate kisses, which I consumed very quickly.

It was HARD to be present to such a painful thing. If you haven’t been there, you can’t possibly relate; if you have, I don’t need to tell you. I slid quickly down into a depression, which started a negative cycle between Joseph and me: I slid down, he regressed, which made me slide more, which made him regress more.

People started telling me I needed to go on antidepressants. If one person says it, fine, but it started coming from different sources: friends, neighbors, a therapist.

I pondered it and asked inwardly for guidance. The thought of not being able to feel so deeply — of having a bit of numbness to help me cope — was deliciously tempting.

Let me say right here that I strongly believe there are times when antidepressants are appropriate. For some people. it is right at this juncture: shortly post-diagnosis.

But I went to hear a local spiritual teacher speak. I chose her particularly because she has a pair of brain-damaged twins, so I figured she’d understand where I was coming from.

After she gave a talk, she invited questions. From my pain, I spoke of Joseph’s diagnosis and my well-meaning friends’ advice to go on antidepressants. I asked her opinion.

This woman does not beat around the bush. She said that, for me, antidepressants would take away the growth I could gain from this experience.

It was what I needed to hear. Once again, I chose the painful path of being present.

You know what? She was right. I find that so much of parenting Joseph is about being present with him. It is transforming to open to the amazing person he is.

When I am present I find that, underneath all of our roles, labels and superficialities, we are simply two souls, two hearts dwelling in Love.

And that is what I mean by superconsciousness. Parenting Joseph is really not about autism, nor is it about recovering from autism. It’s about both of us recovering ourselves and awakening to who and what we are: spiritual beings having a human experience.

On some soul level we chose this path – Joseph with autism and me as his mother. Where is the learning, the dance, the joy in it? How can we grow and play with it?

It is only my resistance that makes it painful. While I can’t always stop myself from resisting the autism, I can always step back and watch my thoughts. I can watch the resistance and see how it stops me from being present, from enjoying the gifts of the moment. How, to be specific, it makes me miserable.

Then I can breathe and start again. Open to the present moment. Ask for help. Let my heart do the seeing instead of my mind. Escape, but not to a lower place — to a place of higher awareness.

Another thing Byron Katie said regarding autism was: don’t wait until your child is better to love him or her unconditionally. Do that now. This seems to be what the Universe is asking us to do. Now.

Before I got pregnant, I prayed for a spiritual teacher in the flesh. I guess you could say I got what I prayed for.

The path of awakening is not for spiritual cream puffs. It is the samurai sword of slashing away what doesn’t serve one’s highest awareness. It will never look the way your mind and ego want it to.

I don’t know why autism is such an epidemic. I do know that the ego seeks the way of ease. The soul, on the other hand, seeks to grow. Every autism parent I know is having their rough places, their unconscious spots, blasted away by this experience.

I hate to say it — but on the soul level, what more could we ask for?