Mindfulness And Meditation For ADHD

For those with ADHD, adults and children alike, it may seem that the primary solution offered in the name of relief involves medication. 

And, while that may be a viable option for some, for others, another research backed route to relief may be just what the doctor ordered!

Studies are proving time and time again that mindfulness and meditation are effective ways of managing ADHD symptoms. 

But, while some are finding relief through these practices, there are plenty of people with ADHD wondering how they could possibly meditate successfully. 

Here, we’ll see what research has to say about the ways mindfulness and meditation can help those with ADHD, and then we’ll provide some simple and practical strategies to help you effectively incorporate these practices.  


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Mindfulness and Meditation

What’s the difference between mindfulness and meditation? Are the two different than the popular term and practice of mindfulness meditation?

The truth is that this pair is like two sides of a coin. Both can be practiced together, yet each can have a separate focus and practice. 


Meditation

Meditation actually involves mindfulness. Incorporating meditation fosters concentration, focus,  and awareness. 

Mindfulness can oftentimes be a result of meditation. 

In meditation, the goal is to train the mind to slow down thoughts that overwhelm and rush over you, and instead gain control of the speed of those thoughts, promoting peace and calm. 


Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves being completely aware of the present, being focused on what is going on now

As things can rapidly change in one’s mind, mindfulness involves concentration to gain focus through those changes. 

As ADHD is a condition characterized by impulsivity, hyperactivity, and a difficulty to focus one’s attention, the practices of mindfulness and meditation have become of great interest regarding their potential to aid those plagued with it. 

So then, can these practices actually offer help? What do researchers say regarding the effects of these practices on adults and children with ADHD? 


Mindfulness, Meditation, & ADHD: What Does The Research Say

Adults and children with ADHD may find it difficult to incorporate practices like mindfulness and meditation. 

But, research shows that these are effective non-medicinal treatment methods for ADHD, due to their effects on the brain. 

Studies prove that meditation works to thicken the frontal cortex of the brain, the area involved with controlling impulses and your ability to focus. 

Those with ADHD also lack normal levels of dopamine, and meditation has been proven to increase these levels. 

Research concerning yoga, considered a mindful exercise, has also proven to improve ADHD symptoms in the same ways (increases of dopamine levels and strengthening of the prefrontal cortex of the brain). 

One UCLA study found what other studies back in their findings: “people with ADHD who attended a mindfulness meditation session once a week for 2 and a half hours, then completed a daily home meditation practice that gradually increased from 5 to 15 minutes over 8 weeks, were better able to stay focused on tasks.” 

And, a team of researchers in 2008 found that a whopping 78% of participants in their 8 week study saw a 30% reduction in their ADHD symptoms by practicing mindful awareness. 

Another study regarding high school students with ADHD found mindfulness and meditation to be an effective tool for reducing both aggression and impulsivity. 

Practically speaking, mindfulness meditation works to: 

  • strengthen areas of the brain that allow you to focus your attention
  • make you aware of your emotions, which helps you to control impulses

Studies also show that mindfulness meditation can aid in boosting self esteem, losing weight, and lowering stress in those with ADHD. 

But, as ADHD centers around a lack of attentive abilities, such practices may certainly sound like an impossible solution. 

So, how can adults and children with ADHD reap the benefits mindfulness and meditation have to offer? 

8 Practical Mindfulness & Meditation Tips For Those With ADHD


1- Routine

Find a specific time of day, a set time in your schedule, to meditate. 

If you set aside this time routinely, it will not only become a habit, but your brain will benefit from the routine. You’ll basically be training your brain to expect these sessions, aiding further in your ability to achieve focus during your time spent meditating or practicing mindfulness. 

Seek to schedule these times to practice mindfulness and/or meditation on your calendar or in your phone as a reminder. 


2- Position

Find a position that is comfortable for you

If you’re not comfortable, you’ll create more distraction in your mind as opposed to freeing yourself of distractions. 

Some prefer the traditional lotus position (legs crossed, sitting upright), others do not. You do you. 


3- Clothing

The position in which you meditate isn’t the only thing that can hinder comfort and thus hinder your ability to effectively practice mindfulness and mediation. 

So, be sure to choose comfortable clothing to meditate in. 

If you’re meditating on your lunch break in a cozy corner of your work office, you may need to ditch those high heels. 

Or, if your glasses are digging a hole behind your ear, you’d benefit from taking them off while meditating (and you’d probably benefit from an adjustment at your eye doctor as well). 

Any kind of distraction from your clothing (or any other distraction, truly) can hinder your ability to receive the benefits mindfulness and meditation have to offer. 


4- No Interruptions

And, speaking of distractions, comfort isn’t the only prerequisite to peace. 

Turn off your phone, and find a space where you can meditate without interruptions. 

Distractions hindering effective meditation aren’t specific to those with ADHD. If your phone is ringing, if your children are yelling for ‘mom,’ or if your coworkers are continually knocking on your door, you’re simply not going to be able to achieve any sense of mindfulness. 

One thing to note, don’t confuse a lack of interruption with a need for complete silence. 

While it may be true for some that such quietness is a need, this is something that may not be realistic or achievable depending on where you live. 

Right now, the busy street out in front of my house and the barking dog right outside of my back window (both fairly regular sounds) could make it impossible for me to ever successfully practice meditation if complete silence was a must. 

The thing is, in time you can train your mind to block these noises out. 

The longer you engage in these practices, the more you’ll be able to focus on the sound of your breathing, or perhaps even include white noise or soft music to help you filter out outside noises to aid in your ability to mindfully meditate. 


5- Happy Together

While mindfulness and meditation may not seem like practices that you can incorporate with a friend, doing this with a partner may prove helpful for some. 

Having someone to meditate, do yoga, or practice breathing with can be just like a workout partner, keeping you accountable to complete the practice. 


6- Focus

From breathing to a specific phrase you can repeat, from an item to visually focus on to soft instrumental music you can listen to, find something to help you focus your attention. 

Paying attention to one of these things can drive your mind to focus, helping you to achieve a calming concentration on what you are hearing or seeing in the present, keeping your mind from drifting to other thoughts or worries. 


7- Mindful Meandering

And, if your mind does drift…

Meandering involves wandering, and what’s that popular saying? “Not all who wander are lost.” 

That is true for meditation as well. 

It’s okay if your mind drifts a bit, just recognize this and attempt to refocus. 

For example, if you’re practicing mindful breathing and you notice your mind wandering amidst the quiet inhalation and exhalation of your breath, if it interferes with your breathing, calmly refocus those breaths…no biggie. 

People can tend to allow such meandering to be a cause of stress, as if you’re not doing it right. It’s okay, even the experts say our minds were made to wander. Just refocus your attention on the breathing you’re doing in the present, and continue the practice. 


8- Cool Down

When you engage in physical exercise, it’s not recommended to abruptly stop, and the same is true for these exercises for your mind. 

Slowly take a few moments after your session to take note of your thoughts, your emotions, and your environment. 

Mindfulness and meditation are proven methods of relieving or reducing ADHD symptoms. Consider incorporating the above tips to help you effectively engage in these practices to potentially achieve… 

  • greater focus
  • reduced stress
  • improved self-esteem
  • weight loss
  • impulse control
  • decreased aggression
  • increased concentration and attention

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