Meditation for ADHD

Mindfulness Meditation to Soothe Squirming Souls

What is mindfulness meditation for ADHD brains? It is practicing simple breathing techniques and setting intentions to help you stay calm, present, and judgment-free.

By now, you’ve heard of mindfulness meditation. Everyone is doing it, not just yoga teachers and monks sitting cross-legged on a mountain top. But what exactly is it — and how is it supposed to help your ADHD?

Mindfulness meditation means noticing the present moment without judgment — not something adults with ADHD do very well. We’re either living with our heads in the clouds or so hyperfocused that we might not notice volcanic activity.

However, meditation may help the ADHD brain improve executive functioning. Except that… I’m sorry, did you say meditate? Have we met? I have ADHD. Sitting still and thinking of nothing is impossible.

[Get This Free Download: Mindful Meditation for ADHD]

Here’s the good news for us squirming souls: Meditation comes in many forms — from simple breathing to wandering in a park and taking in its sights and smells. Here is how I make it work for me.

3 Mindfulness Meditation Techniques for ADHD Brains

Mindfulness Technique #1: Set Your Intention

Before beginning a task at work, set an intention: I’m at my desk to finish this assignment. I’m going to use a version of the Pomodoro Technique, turn off the internet, take two-minute stretch breaks, and do a minute of deep breathing every 20 minutes.

Mindfulness at work means checking in with yourself: Am I within my intention or has my brain drifted off-task? Mindfulness also means letting go of judgment. If you got little done, just notice it. Then regroup and try again.

Mindfulness Technique #2: Challenge Your Assumptions

Many with ADHD struggle with rejection sensitive dysphoria — an automatic assumption that someone’s irritability or indifference is intentional and directed at us. She hasn’t returned my text all day. She doesn’t like me. Sometimes, our perceived rejection causes us to feel angry or depressed. But we aren’t mind readers, and often our assumptions are way off base.

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Practicing mindfulness meditation allows us to pause and consider whether our sensitive reaction to rejection is real or perceived. Breathe in, consider your assumption and the discomfort it brings. Consider possible alternatives to your assumptions, and whether you can let go of the sensitive reaction.

Mindfulness Technique #3: Practice Pausing

If your child has ADHD, maybe you’ve reacted angrily or in frustration to his or her behavior. Consider starting your morning with a moment of mindfulness. Set your intention for how you want to parent that day. Breathe in and visualize asking your child clearly for the behavior you want, and reacting calmly if you don’t get it the first time. Develop a practice of pausing before responding to your child’s emotional dysregulation or defiance.

Checking in with your body, and breathing into your frustration, can give you the moment you need to reflect on that parenting intention and meet it.

Mindfulness Meditation for ADHD: Next Steps

Merriam Sarcia Saunders, LMFT, is the author of Mindfulness Meditations for ADHD: Improve Focus, Strengthen Self-Awareness, and Live More Fully


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