For the past few weeks a friend of mine has been losing things. Important things, like the only set of car keys she has or her glasses. And in both cases, it took days before they turned up. She’s got a lot on her mind right now, which may help explain things.
This morning I woke up late and had to rush to get to an appointment on time. My mind was elsewhere, and I found myself at an intersection wondering which way to turn. Because at the moment, I’d forgotten where I was going. Lucky for me I figured it out before the guy behind me started honking.
Why am I telling you this?
Because each of these stories represent times when we were not being mindful.
Being mindful, in case you didn’t know, is the act of being in the moment. And while that sounds all woo-woo and New Age like, the truth is that it just means that you should be present in the here and now, not thinking ahead to what happens next. Living that way is living in the future – even if the future is just a few minutes or hours away.
If my friend’s mind had been in the present instead of on all the stuff she had to do for her daughter’s graduation party, she would have been conscious of where she put her car keys and her glasses.
If I hadn’t been thrown off course by waking up late, I could have driven to my appointment without a second thought. But because I was thinking about what I had to do before I got there, and wondering if I was going to be late, and because I was driving a road that I take a lot, it took me a minute to figure out just where I was going.
Those of us with ADHD have a tendency to live in the future a lot. We have lived our lives trying to anticipate what comes next so that we can be prepared. And by doing so, we have missed much of the present.
It is possible, though, to learn to live more fully in the moment.
One excellent way to learn to be more aware of the here and now is through meditation. Meditation is a great way to learn to quiet the mind and focus. For those of us with ADHD, a visual meditation or a guided meditation are much more effective than the standard instruction of “try to clear your mind and not think of anything at all”. That’s just not possible in my book.
Visual meditations are usually short videos, often accompanied by music. You can do a search on Google or You Tube for visual meditation videos to find some that you like.
Guided meditations may be visual or simply auditory. They have someone talking in a soothing voice, usually describing something that you attempt to visualize in your mind. I like the meditations at The Fragrant Heart. I like the variety of selections and find Elizabeth Blaikie’s voice soothing. Be sure to find something that you like or it just won’t work.
Another way you can learn to be mindful is to try to remember to bring yourself back to the present, even if you’re doing something routine.
For instance, many of us have a bad habit of “entertaining’ ourselves while we eat. We might read, watch TV, or play on our computer or smart phone. This gets in the way of mindfulness and can cause us to overeat. Next time you have a meal, put the entertainment away. Let your food be the star. Enjoy the taste, the texture. Is it pleasingly warm or exhilaratingly cold?
Try these types of exercises throughout the day and soon you will find yourself living life more fully, in the moment.