Sure, we’ve all had those days where we can’t focus, make rash decisions, and just can’t seem to sit still. But for the 3 – 5 percent of the population, both young and old, living with Attention Deficit Disorder (or ADD) these days are their norm. So where does meditation come into play in all of this? We’re glad you asked! Because meditation can be practiced in many shapes and forms, both still and busy, it can be the perfect means of self-care for those with ADD.
Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t have to be carried out sitting perfectly still in the lotus position. It also doesn’t have to be carried out with a still mind. For those with Attention Deficit Disorder, this is important as their brains are constantly on the go – or as the Buddhists would phrase it, they are suffering with “monkey chatter”. People with ADD offer also feel like they are always running on adrenaline. It wakes them up in the morning and then needs to be fed and constantly stimulated during the day, either with crisis or excitement. This adrenaline rush, although “necessary”, comes with its own set of health risks as the adrenal hormone raises the heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar, and dampens the immune system.
So how can meditation help? Simply put, it can create a moment of peacefulness, when the adrenaline stops. Creating this stillness, when you are used to going a mile a minute, can be difficult as first. It can be practiced along with the use of medication or adopted as a more holistic approach to treatment for Attention Deficit Disorder.
Mindfulness meditation shows the greatest promise in treating the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder. This is because mindfulness meditation focuses primarily on self-control and improved attention (especially in regards to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensation.) By improving self-awareness, it also helps reduce impulsiveness and in turn allows for decision making based on rational thought rather than heightened emotions. Meditation also helps to increase the levels of serotonin – aka the feel good hormones. When you feel happy, you tend to focus better. It also helps with intuition and clarity of thinking which in turn help with organizational skills, problem solving, and academic performance.
Walking meditation and guided meditation are ideal fits for those with ADD. Walking meditation is the practice of being aware of the act and experience of walking and allows for a focus on something that is both repetitive and different with every step. Guided meditation is also beneficial because people with Attention Deficit Disorder are often visual learners, which aligns nicely with the guided meditation model. Guided meditation uses visual metaphors to promote a sense of calm.
If you are considering using meditation to help treat the symptoms of your ADD, here are some helpful tips to help get you starting on creating your very own peaceful space and mindset.
- It’s impossible to fail at meditation but it can be tricky to allow yourself to be still. It can be helpful to repeat a mantra to yourself: “Meditation is a practice. I intend to enjoy and learn from the experience. There are no wrong ways to do it, and I will refrain from grading myself.”
- Give yourself permission to get comfortable, on your terms. Relaxing or even falling asleep is a good thing while meditating because it means you have been successful at stilling your mind (a challenge when dealing with ADD). Do it wherever and however it feels most natural to you, otherwise the position or location itself may be distracting. Focus on your breathing, taking slow, even breaths. Transition slowly at first into a state of relaxation – take a hot bath or listen to soothing music. Over time the transition will become much easier.
- Use a sensory cue during the transition from busyness to stillness. A hat, a special chair, or a certain type of music (instrumental is ideal) combined with a certain visual and/or verbal focus point (i.e. a candle, a mantra) can help make the transition easier. Using a cue can help greatly in cutting out the distractions that go hand in hand with ADD.
- Embrace your required level of activity. If you simply can’t sit still, then try walking meditation. The better choice for an active body, it removes the distraction caused by an antsy body.
- Don’t give up. Don’t approach meditation as an all or nothing treatment. Instead introduce it in small amounts and make it part of your routine – even 5 minutes a day a few times a day will go a long way in creating a peaceful environment. Remind yourself as you go why you are doing it – in the context of ADD, it’s not to clear your mind, but to step back from the noise and pay attention to your chosen item of focus. If taking your medication along with meditation helps, then do so.
- Work with a meditation expert or coach – like Totally Meditation – who will help keep you on track. Don’t go it alone if you don’t have to.
These are just some of the many advantages and means to introduce meditation into a treatment plan for Attention Deficit Disorder. For more insight, and tools, on how to best make meditation best work for you, please feel free to contact us for help.
To your inner peace – Anna
Kelley, Kate, and Peggy Ramundo. “Meditate for Serenity Now!” ADDitude Magazine. New Hope Media LLC, 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 Jan. 2015.
“Can Meditation Treat ADD?”OmHarmonics. Mindvalley LC. Web. 19 Jan. 2015. <http://www.omharmonics.com/blog/using-meditation-as-treatment-for-add/>