Meditation is widely recognized as offering a path to tranquility and self-awareness, however, this calm path can feel more like an uphill battle when grappling with ADHD-related restlessness, impulsivity, and amplified inclination to jump from one thought to another.
The effort to settle into a state of mindfulness is like trying to steer a boat in choppy waters – just when you think you’re making progress, a new wave of distraction comes crashing in.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the specific difficulties that arise when learning how to meditate with ADHD, offering some simple and practical tips to help effectively embrace mindfulness and overcome the hurdles that often accompany the practice.
How To Meditate With ADHD: 10 Simple Tips
#1: Understand the goal
Successful meditation for individuals with ADHD begins with understanding the true goal of the practice.
Contrary to the misconception that it’s about emptying the mind entirely, the real objective during meditation is to cultivate mindfulness, awareness and acceptance of the present moment as it is.
Rather than battling with intrusive thoughts, the aim is to acknowledge them without judgment and gently bring the focus back to the present moment. The goal is not to stop thinking per se, but to notice any thoughts that distract you from the present, and then let them go.
This realization helped me massively during my own journey with meditation. Having mild ADHD myself, I found the pointed pursuit of an empty mind only resulted in frustration and self-criticism – quite the opposite of how meditation is meant to make you feel!
However, once I realized that our efforts during meditation should not be invested in trying to stop our thoughts, but rather to stop reacting to thoughts, it all became a lot easier.In this sense, the pursuit of meditation is not to empty our minds through direct effort and action but to allow this to happen as a natural result of no longer reacting to our thoughts.
#2: Start small
For those with ADHD, initiating a meditation routine with brief sessions is paramount. This means beginning with just a few minutes and gradually extending the duration as your comfort and proficiency level increases.
By starting small, you create a non-intimidating entry point into meditation, reducing the risk of frustration or impatience – which often results in giving up.
I found that short sessions were more manageable, and by extension more likely to maintain my interest and commitment which allowed me to build a sustainable practice over time.
To conclude? When the question is how to meditate with ADHD, the answer is don’t run before you can walk . . . and don’t walk till you can crawl.
We often feel like we’re not making progress unless we move with big strides – but just be patient and soon, the benefits will come!
#3: Try different techniques
Meditation presents a rich tapestry of techniques, each tailored to address diverse preferences and requirements – tapping into this can be a valuable resource for individuals wanting to learn how to meditate with ADHD.
With so many various methods to delve into such as mindfulness, loving-kindness, body scan meditation, and mandala meditation, those with ADHD have a huge range of options in which to uncover strategies that resonate with their distinct cognitive landscape.
Incorporating auditory cues like soothing music or natural sounds, is another great technique to try when learning how to meditate with ADHD.
Such auditory focal points provide a gentle anchor, which can curb restlessness and bolster concentration for those with ADHD. With the right music, the rhythmic interplay of music and breath can also assist a maintaining prolonged focus during meditation sessions.
Group meditation is another great option, with the collective energy and mutual experience within meditation groups fostering accountability, elevating motivation, and generating insights and encouragement, which can all help those wanting to learn to meditate.
Harnessing technology, meditation apps tailored to ADHD can offer guidance and structure.
These apps curate shorter sessions, finely tuned to accommodate shorter attention spans. Incorporating interactive features, progress tracking, and reminders, they provide a scaffold for sustained practice, enhancing the chances of progress.
#4: Make a comfortable space
Designating a tranquil meditation space is crucial for learning how to meditate with ADHD. A clutter-free and serene environment not only eliminates possible distractions but also helps signal to your brain that it’s time for focused introspection.
I’d recommend choosing a spot with minimal distractions and adding calming elements like plants or soft lighting, and most importantly, try not to do anything else in this spot than meditate.
This is because having a consistent space dedicated to meditation alone will allow it to over time become associated with mindfulness and calm, serving as a mental anchor that then makes it easier to transition into meditation and have a more effective experience.
As far as possible, try to also remove any known distractions from your meditation space, particularly phones, which are amongst the worst attention thieves for even the most neurotypical brains.
Being comfortable in your space also extends to the clothes you wear. There’s nothing useful about tight, itchy, or restrictive clothing during meditation, so instead opt for loose and breathable clothing that enables movement and reduces any potential discomfort.
By prioritizing comfort, you create a physical environment that supports mental focus and relaxation, allowing you to engage fully in the meditation experience.
#5: Make a habit of it
Consistency is the cornerstone of any successful meditation practice, and this is particularly true for meditators with ADHD.
Learning how to meditate with ADHD doesn’t have some hidden magic solution. Instead, like many endeavors, the key lies in consistent practice. Improvement comes through repetition and dedication – and routine and habit forming is key to this.
So for this, it’s important to establish a regular meditation schedule by designating specific times each day for practice. Over time, as this routine becomes a habit it will contribute to better symptom management during meditation.
#6: Use fidget tools
For individuals with ADHD, the journey of meditation is often accompanied by restless energy, making it challenging to maintain focus. This is where the concept of incorporating fidget tools can offer so much help.
For people meditating with ADHD, fidget tools can act kind of like a bridge between movement and stillness. From stress balls to textured objects, these things can offer a great tangible outlet for excess energy – kind of like a valve releasing built-up pressure that puts you in a calmer, lower-energy mood more conducive to meditation.
Fidget tools are great because they provide a tactile focus that can help ground us in the physical world in order to allow us to better access the world of meditation.
Fidget tools are not about distraction, but instead about convergence – about making your fidgeting a partner to your meditation rather than a disruptor. By releasing physical energy in a rhythmic way, fidget tools can balance the need for motion and the desire for stillness during meditation.
#7: Choose the Right Time
Picking the right time for meditation is akin to choosing the ideal season for planting seeds. Just as some plants thrive in spring while others prefer the coolness of autumn, your meditation practice can flourish during the times when your mind is naturally more receptive.
Yep, identifying the optimal time for meditation can significantly impact its effectiveness for individuals with ADHD. So before meditating, reflect on when your ADHD symptoms tend to be less pronounced and pick these times of day to practice.
Where some individuals feel more focused in the morning, others feel more relaxed and conducive to meditation in the evening – there’s no right or wrong time, it’s just about finding whatever suits you.
#8: Go easy on yourself
Now, this is a big one. Meditating can be difficult for most people, and this can take on a whole other level when grappling with ADHD-related restlessness, impulsivity, and amplified inclination to jump from one thought to another.
So, navigating meditation with ADHD requires a careful balance of understanding, dedication and self-compassion. Maintaining a sense of commitment is essential, but it is equally crucial to avoid taking things too seriously which can lead to counterproductive frustration.
It’s important to recognize that for most of us, the desire from our meditation practice is to simply manage our symptoms, develop focus, and cultivate a sense of tranquility, rather than the pursuit of profound enlightenment.
In other words, we’re aiming for incremental progress rather than absolute mastery of focus. And this incremental progress can take a long time to detect, so uphold a commitment to consistent practice without having high or immediate expectations.
The main message here is that rather than striving for an unattainable standard of perfection, we should foster an environment of self-acceptance and patience.
It’s vital to remember that meditation is not an examination with stringent criteria. Instead, it’s a personal journey towards greater tranquility and mental clarity. The best complement to a commitment to regular practice remains steadfast is an attitude of self-compassion.
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