ADHD Medication and Treatment Reviews

Mindful Meditation

Mindfulness, yoga, and deep breathing exercises used to manage symptoms of ADHD

What is mindful meditation?

Mindful meditation — also called “mindfulness” or “mindful awareness” — is a form of cognitive fitness training aimed at reducing stress, promoting self-awareness, and improving attention. Many experts believe that, when used regularly, meditation can help reduce ADHD symptoms like inattention and hyperactivity in children and adults. It can also help manage symptoms of anxiety and depression that often co-occur with ADHD.

How does meditation work?

Mindful meditation involves paying close attention to your breath, your thoughts, and your bodily sensations. In its most basic form, meditation involves sitting (ideally somewhere quiet, where you’re less likely to be distracted) and focusing on your breath as it goes in and out. When your attention naturally wanders, simply make an effort to refocus on your breathing. Doing this regularly — for as little as 5 minutes at a time — can make you more aware of how your attention wanders and give you tools for regulating it in your daily life, experts say. Once you feel able to focus on your breath for five minutes at a time, gradually increase the length of your meditation sessions to improve your stamina.

You can also practice mindfulness in other ways, like mindful eating (paying attention to what you eat and refocusing your attention on your meal when your mind starts to wander). You can also combine mindful meditation with other stress-relief practices like exercise. Yoga, for instance, is a common way to incorporate mindful meditation into an overall healthy lifestyle. Alternatively, guided meditations — many of which are available for free online — can help you get started on a regular meditation practice.

Who is mindful meditation for?

Anyone, of any age, can practice meditation. Modified age-appropriate techniques may be necessary for young children.

How much does mindful meditation cost?

Meditation is free and can be practiced anywhere. Short courses or “mindfulness retreats” exist, at varying costs, but they are not necessary to develop an effective mindfulness practice. A six-week course at UCLA, for example, costs $185.

What studies have been done on mindful meditation?

Research on meditation has increased dramatically over the last decade. A 2010 study, published in the Journal of Applied School Psychology, found that children with executive function deficits showed significant improvement after an 8-week mindfulness training program. A small uncontrolled 2007 study, published in the Journal of Attention Disorders, concluded that “Mindfulness training is a feasible intervention in a subset of ADHD adults and adolescents, and may improve behavioral and neurocognitive impairments.” A 2009 study found that mindfulness training for both children with ADHD and their parents improved the children’s compliance, and resulted in parents and kids experiencing greater overall satisfaction with family life.

Where can I learn more about mindful meditation?

Lidia Zylowska, M.D., head of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC), spoke with ADDitude about the benefits of starting a meditation practice HERE. MARC’s website — — has free guided mediations, information on classes, and a collection of research on mindful meditation.


4 Mindful Meditation Comments & Reviews

  1. Exercise treats ADHD and meditation and mindfulness both treat ADHD. Yoga is both, plus the yoga lifestyle is full of ways to be more healthy and centered. We need to work on our monkey minds more than others, and this is part of yoga training.
    That being said, don’t feel bad if meditation is hard for you/impossible or if you fall asleep in savassana. Keep working on your nutrition and other tweaks. It’s a way of life.

  2. I utilize yoga, meditation and a little bit of qi-gong and it helps remarkably well with my ADD symptoms. I maintain a rigorous discipline plan though, waking up before 5 AM and getting a good half-hour of yoga and meditation in before I leave the house for work. When I slip and don’t do my stuff though, I start feeling very out of whack. But it really helps me understand the elements at play in my body and work to keep things aligned. The meditation REALLY helps with the ADHD focus.Don’t underestimate how much it can help.

  3. I believe I have been self medicating with yoga and meditation for over 20 years with some success. Cutting out sugar and foods I am allergic to (wheat and dairy) helps too. Try any yoga class that suits your fitness level and includes deep relaxation and breathing practices along with some meditation. I find chant helps a lot too. After taking an early retirement to teach yoga more, I found the lack of structure made my focus worse, which is why I am on this site exploring ways to stay on track with a new schedule. I think the ideas I have been reading to buddy up with people to get things done will be helpful. Don’t know where I would be without the yoga though.

  4. I am 41 years old and was recently diagnosed with ADD. I practice meditation for 10-15 mins in the morning and at bed tune, also in short 2 min bursts throughout the day as required. My 11 year old daughter has anxious ADD and I guide her in meditation too. Learning to bring myself to a centred and calm place has made a huge difference when it comes to focus and attention and it had sincerely changed my life in so many positive ways, for my daughter it has worked absolute wonders in reducing anxiety symptoms and improving her self esteem. Neither of us take any medication, so meditation and mindfulness is our only ADD ‘treatment’. The most challenging part was creating a habit of practising it, since my primary symptom is forgetfulness and lack of drive it took me a couple of months to really integrate it into my routine, doing it with my daughter helped with this. As I was diagnosed late I have already carved out a life that compensates for my ADD short comings, as a disorganised, forgetful and distracted person I outsource most of my mundane responsibilities, if I didn’t have that support I’m not sure I could function so well, so meditation might not work as a stand alone solution for everyone. Meditation has certainly improved symptoms for myself and my daughter but not entirely ‘cured’ them. For us it’s a happy inbetween solution that doesn’t have any unpleasant side effects like medication AND it has the added benefit of helping us to maintain good emotional and mental health, we are both much happier since we started meditating and rarely feel overwhelmed as we used to.

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