What is Mindfulness? Part II: Meditation for the ADHD non-meditator.

By the way, I can’t honestly recall if I have blogged about this aspect of mindfulness before or not. I’m sorry if this is redundant, but happy if it is a needed refresher.

I never thought that I could meditate. My dad, the completely neurotypical one in the house, was a TM guy. He still meditates for 20-30 minutes a day. He tried to get me to do it when I was a kid. A squirmy, hyper, easily bored kid. Even medicated, I couldn’t do it. 

But the “can’t” really comes down to the definition of the “it.” I looked at my dad and thought, I have to do this like him. I need to do it for a long time. Five minutes felt long to me at that point in my life. There’s no way I could do it for longer. 

I was also limited by my expectations. My dad does it for a minimum of 20 minutes. Even if I could do it for five minutes, what could I possibly get out of it? Perfectionism. Black and white thinking. Negative thought patterns. I pulled out all the ADHD stops. To be fair to myself, I don’t know if I could have meditated then, even medicated. But I know that I wasn’t able to with the limiting ideas I had in my head. 

For many years exercise was my meditation. And, I very much do consider my exercise practice an integral part of my ADHD and depression and anxiety management. I really do consider it, at the lever I do it, mindfulness. But it isn’t really meditation.

I only got into meditation in my late 30’s when my son did a study at MGH for ADHD kids under 6-12 using the kids’ calm meditation on the HeadSpace App. I did it with him and found:

  • An ADHD adult might like a kid’s meditation. I do. 

  • 5 minutes was just about right for me. 

  •  I never truly cleared my mind. But that was okay. I’m not a monk. But getting my thoughts down to one at a time from the swirling maelstrom that is usually inside my head was a pretty great achievement and gave me quite a bit of peace. 

  • It truly slowed me down. 

  • There were good days and harder days. But on some of the good days, a five minute meditation was as good as taking an ativan at lowering my anxiety. 

  • Even the harder days yielded results. 

  • The hardest part was getting myself to do it. But it was always worth it when I did, often exceeding the time I set out to do. 

I’ve subsequently learned more about myself and meditation. 

  • I don’t like guided meditation for adults. I stick with the kids. Or I use the semi-guided HeadSpace tool, which I took forever to find and love. 

  • My range is three to 18 minutes, usually around eight.

  • It helps me to have my To Do List next to me. I do think of good stuff. It helps me to write it down and then let it leave my mind.

  • I like varying the style of the practice. 

My point is, if you have always thought that you couldn’t meditate, maybe you’re wrong. I bet, especially medicated, you could find some form of meditation that you could do in some way for some period of time that would give you some benefit that would be worth the effort

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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