Meditation can be a life changer for people suffering from ADHD, helping them to stay focused and in control. But sadly, it can be hard to meditate with ADHD. After all, mindfulness requires concentration, which is not exactly the hallmark of those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Not to worry. In this guide, I am going to show you how you can create a successful meditation practice despite having ADHD.
Guided Meditation For ADHD
Tips for Meditating With ADHD
Let’s recognise the elephant in the room. Yes, it is a challenge to meditate when youre having to deal with the mental instability caused by ADHD. But it is one hundred percent possible. You just have to realise a few core truths about meditation.
Firstly, you do not have to do meditation sitting down in Lotus position. In fact, you don’t have to be sitting down at all. There are many active forms of meditation that might be more suitable for you.
Also, you do not have to have your eyes closed (some classical forms of meditation, such as Zen meditation, have the eyes open). So you see, most of what people think about meditation simply is not true.
One of the best things about mindfulness and meditation is that they are very versatile.
As Melissa Shepard, MD, a psychiatrist and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins says, “Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on an ‘anchor’ such as the breath…” The “anchor” you focus on is entirely up to you, as is the way you meditate, where you meditate, when you do it… pretty much everything about meditation is versatile. And that’s huge because it means that you can create a meditation practice that works for you.
So, let me give you some pointers.
1) Have an attitude of acceptance
If you want to meditate with ADHD, start by telling yourself that you are new to this and that you will go slowly, being accepting, and that you will progress over time. (Meditation is not a magic pill. It takes times).
Next, and this goes for everyone but especially those with ADHD, you need to accept the fact that your mind will not be perfect. In my lessons many of my students tell me that they think they are doing it wrong because their mind is busy. Newsflash, most everyone has a busy mind these days. Meditation will not immediately quieten your mind. If you experience thoughts, that’s fine. It’s a practice. The more you practice the better you will get.
Also, know when you will not be able to meditate. I fully believe (and from experience with my students, I have seen) that there are certain times when it is impossible to meditate with ADHD. If you’re mind is in full-on-go mode, don’t meditate, do something a little easier like going for a relaxing walk. You can always meditate later.
Finally, never judge your practice. There is no “good” or “bad”. You are where you are, and you will progress at whatever rate you progress at. Although, admittedly, you will progress a lot faster if you take a few lessons with me.
2) Have an open mind and experiment
Let me tell you the number one myth about meditation. Many people think that it is just about breathing. Wrong. There are a lot of different ways to meditate, including mantras, visualizations, guided meditation, and more. You will not know which meditation is best for you until you try a few different ones. Actually, this is something I do in my lessons. I introduce you to a variety of different methods and help you to discover the best one for you.
Have an open mind. Try meditating in different ways. See what results you get. When you find what works, stick with it.
3) Practice, practice, practice
Just like going to the gym, if you want to get results out of meditation you need to practice consistently. Don’t just meditate once and decide that it doesn’t work for you. That’s like going to the gym once and deciding that it doesn’t work because you don’t have a six pack. You have to stick to it.
You might find it helpful to meditate at the same time and place each day. This will help you to make meditation a habit, which is important for long-term success. Sometimes you will not feel like meditating, but remember that it’s also a discipline. If you want results, you need to put in the work.
4) Stick with your medication and your doctors advice
Meditation is not a replacement for any medication or for whatever advice your doctor has given you. It is an extra, a bonus tool that you can use to enhance your quality of life. And yes, it can work wonders. But you still do need to follow your doctor’s guidelines.
5) Practice mindfulness exercises
Sometimes, sitting for a long meditation session can be a bit much, and that’s fine. A better way to meditate with ADHD is to choose a few mindful activities that you can do. For instance, try chopping up vegetables mindfully, or maybe do some mindful gardening. You can even just go for a mindful walk. All you need to do is choose one task and do it slowly while being conscious of what you are doing. Many of my students who struggle with formal meditation sessions enjoy these more active mindfulness exercises.
Mindfulness and meditation strengthen your self control and your attention by training your mind to return to the present moment when you are distracted. Thanks to this, meditation increases focus. Indeed, one study by UCLA showed that people with ADHD who meditate for eight weeks are more able to stay focused on a task. One reason for this is that it strengthens your prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that is involved with planning, focusing, and impulse control. Meditation also balances your brain’s supply of dopamine, which is one neurochemical that has shown to be limited in people with ADHD.
If you have a wee bit of an adrenaline problem, it will help with that too. People with ADHD are hooked on adrenaline, which is used to wake up the brain (especially the frontal lobes). Sadly, overloading your brain with too much excitement (and stress) isn’t exactly healthy. It causes a flood of adrenal hormones that cause a spike in blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart rate and also, over time, weaken the immune system. All because of adrenaline addiction. But the good news is that science shows that meditation helps to reduce addiction cravings for adrenaline, which helps us to be more in control and, over time, to slow down.
According to Duke University, one particular application of meditation that has been shown to help with ADHD is Maps for ADHD (Mindfulness Awareness Practices for ADHD Program), which is based on three exercises: Body Scan, Vipassana, and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. The guided meditation above is based on this practice.
Meditation is very helpful for people with ADHD. In my private lessons, I have been able to help many people with ADHD to learn to concentrate, to improve their quality of life, and to get a handle on their condition. While it can be a challenge for people with ADHD to meditate, the tips above and the guided meditation will help you to get started.
Giving Is Caring
Paul Harrison BSc is a qualified meditation teacher who believes in genuine, authentic meditation. He has more than 15 years experience in teaching meditation and mindfulness both to individuals and to corporations and is the author of four books on meditation. He has been featured in Psychology Today, Breathe Magazine, Healthline, Psych Central and Lion’s Roar.
Paul studied meditation in beautiful Oxford, UK, and Hamilton Ontario Canada, and earned his degree at Staffordshire University.
Paul’s biggest inspirations include Thich Nhat Hanh, Jon Kabat Zinn, and Jack Kornfield.
“My goal is to provide the most authentic meditation sessions so you can harness the power of your own mind for personal transformation” – Paul Harrison