What is mindfulness?

What is mindfulness can be a difficult enough question for anyone to answer. For an ADHDer, it can be even harder. We tend to think of a super zen person, maybe even a Buddhist monk meditating for hours while completely clearing their mind of all distractions. But that is a very limited and typically ADHD/black and white way of looking at it. Honestly, that’s how I thought about it when I was younger until my eyes were opened. Now with a broader understanding of meditation and mindfulness as a whole, I realize how essential they are to managing our ADHD.

First, meditation is great. I’ll come back to that. But meditation is not the only way to “do” mindfulness. For those of you who cringe at the mere mention of the term mindfulness, like the teenage client who inspired this post, I give you permission to insert the work intentional-ness every time I use the word mindfulness from now on. Because that is really all it is. In my experience mindfulness can be as simple as being intentional about something that you have never been intentional about before. 
I’ll give you one example. Dr. David Nowell @davidnowell on Twitter gave me a deck of his mindfulness cards when we got together to network many years ago. I loved them and still have them. As with any group of things, I responded to some more than others. One of my favorites was, and I’m paraphrasing so I don’t have to look through the deck this is still on my desk these many years later, “listen to one of your favorite songs but concentrate only one one of the instruments.” 

I was not a musician and other than jamming to a particular guitar hook, or that sweet drum fill from “in the air tonight,” I’d never really focused on a single instrument. But I found that it was a way to narrow the torrent of stimulation I am constantly receiving as an ADHD person. I forget which track off of Rancid’s “… and out come the wolves” it was. But I just focused on Matt Freeman’s Bass work. It was reasonably easy. They mix his base to be pretty prominent because he’s really talented. But it was a very zen experience to shut everything else out and just focus on that. 

I found it calming and interesting. It gave me an appreciation for the song, the instrument, the way all the instruments fit together. And, it didn’t challenge my ADHD the way sitting still and trying to think of nothing always has. Now, seven or so years later, I have been learning to play the drums for about three years and am always trying to just pick up the drum track in certain things, which can still be a very zen experience. 

I think I’ll post this as is to make up for missing last week after I got my 2nd vaccine shot and was too low energy to do anything for three days. I’ll talk more about how I actually got into real meditation, which I never thought possible for me, in my next post on Friday.

Note: Keep your eyes open for my new website. It should be launching in the next month. All new content. New everything. Hopefully a YouTube channel sometime this summer. 

Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please excuse and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.

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