I always get the impression when I mention meditation that people sort of tune me out. I don’t know if it’s because they perceive it as some New Age sort of thing that doesn’t really work, or if they think that meditation and ADHD don’t mix.
The truth, however, is that not only does meditation work, it works exceptionally well for Attention Deficit Disorder. Not only that, but recent studies indicate that kids with ADHD can actually learn to meditate quite easily.
Meditation is basically the practice of quieting the mind. You turn your attention inward, focusing on some pre-determined thing.
For me, it’s usually my heartbeat, but it could be your breathing, a mantra – a phrase that you repeat over and over, or a visualization of some kind.
Done properly, meditation can lower your blood pressure, calm your mind, help you sleep, and even refresh you when you’ve had too little sleep.
Once you’ve learned to do it – in as little as a few weeks or less – you can call forth its benefits whenever you choose.
I know children who’ve learned to meditate, and when they find themselves in a stressful situation, are able to take a minute or less to sort of go into instant meditation mode and calm themselves down.
Think about the benefits of meditation to Attention Deficit Disorder: Learning to meditate is learning to train the mind and to focus attention. How much more do you need to know than that?
Meditation is easy to learn; here’s a quick how to:
Pick a time and a place that is comfortable and where you will not be disturbed.
Most people picture doing meditation sitting cross legged on the floor, but it’s generally recommended that you sit in a chair, legs uncrossed and hands in your lap.
Close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths to relax.
Focus your mind in one place.
When you first begin to meditate, you’ll probably need to try a number of different focusing methods until you find one that works for you.
I have a few that I use, because sometimes the one I use most often just doesn’t seem to work. Here are a few:
Focus on your breathing, paying attention to nothing else.
Focus exclusively on your heartbeat.
Picture something in your head, like a shape or even scenery. Be careful not to get too “interactive” with the scenery – think of it like a still picture, not a movie.
Pick a short phrase or even a sound and repeat it over and over, like a chant. This is called a mantra; make it something positive.
Continue focusing. Your body should be relaxed and your breathing normal, neither too fast or too slow.
It’s natural, especially at first, for thoughts to drift into your mind. In fact, it may be several seconds before you realize that you’ve lost your concentration. That’s OK; just re-focus and continue.
Meditation guides will often say that as thoughts drift into your mind, you should acknowledge them and then move on. Think of this process as someone walking past your office door once in a while – just walking past, not stopping in to visit. You look up from your work just long enough to give them a brief nod, and then go back to your work. That’s what you should do with any thoughts that creep in.
You should start by aiming for at least 10 minutes of meditation daily. It may take a while to work up that, but that’s OK. Daily practice will help. Eventually, you will want to do 15 – 30 minutes daily. You will also find that once you get the hang of it, you can do a quick minute or less meditation when you need to, and that it will work for you.
Find an optimal time of day to meditate, and if you can, meditate each day at this time. Early morning or late at night is not usually recommended; you’re likely to fall asleep. If sleep is the intent, however, meditation is a good bedtime ritual. A bedtime meditation should not take the place of your daily practice.
If you find focusing to be difficult, try using a guided meditation tape or CD.
Make an effort to learn how to meditate; it can really enhance your life!