Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by problems with attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. It is often diagnosed in childhood but can continue into adulthood.
While medication is a standard treatment for ADHD, there are also non-pharmacological approaches that can help manage symptoms. One such approach is meditation for ADHD, which effectively reduces symptoms of ADHD.
In this article, we discuss how meditation can help you with your ADHD and give you practical tips and advice on introducing meditation for ADHD into your daily routine.
What is ADHD?
ADHD is a common disorder affecting roughly 2% of the global population. It impacts how people pay attention and control their behavior, focus and emotions.
ADHD is typically diagnosed in childhood and can continue into adulthood, with symptoms ranging from difficulty paying attention, forgetting things, being disorganized, losing things, appearing not to listen, and fidgeting or squirming.
While these behaviors are normal for children at certain stages of development, for those with ADHD, these behaviors are more severe and persistent and can interfere with daily functioning.
What are Mindfulness and Meditation?
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
Meditation is a practice that involves focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity to train attention and awareness. There are many different types of meditation, including mindfulness meditation, which involves bringing one’s attention to the present moment without judgment, or orgasmic meditation, which is a partner meditation. Meditation can reduce the heart rate, slow down thoughts and emotions, and help with mental stability.
The nature of mindfulness practice and meditation, the fact that they require calm and focus, make them ideal practices for people who experience negative consequences associated with ADHD.
How Can Meditation Help with ADHD?
Research has found that meditation practice can improve attention, reduce impulsivity, and decrease hyperactivity in people with ADHD. It can also help to improve overall functioning and reduce stress and anxiety.
There are several ways in which meditation may be helpful for people with ADHD.
First, meditation can help to improve focus and attention by training the mind to stay present in the moment.
Meditation can also help to reduce impulsivity by teaching people to become more aware of their thoughts and emotions and to make choices based on those observations rather than acting impulsively.
Why Might Someone with ADHD Find it Hard to Meditate?
While meditation experience can be helpful for people with ADHD, it can also be challenging for some to practice. Some common reasons why someone with ADHD may find it hard to meditate include the following:
- Difficulty sitting still: People with ADHD may have trouble sitting still for long periods, making it difficult to practice meditation.
- Difficulty focusing: ADHD can make it difficult for some people to focus their attention, making it hard to meditate.
- Difficulty controlling thoughts: People with ADHD may have racing thoughts or problems controlling them, making it hard to stay present and focused during meditation.
- Distractibility: People with ADHD may be easily distracted, which can make it hard to stay focused during meditation.
Why mindfulness is an Important Skill for people with ADHD to Develop
The practice of mindfulness meditation for ADHD and meditation for ADHD adults is an important skill for some people to develop because it can have many benefits in everyday life. Some potential benefits include:
- Improved grades: Mindfulness meditation for ADHD has been shown to improve attention and focus, which can be beneficial for people with ADHD who may struggle with academic performance. By practicing mindfulness, individuals with ADHD may be able to concentrate better on their studies and achieve better grades.
- Improved job prospects: In addition to improving academic performance, mindfulness meditation may also improve job prospects for people with ADHD. Employers often value employees who can focus, stay organized, and control their impulses, and mindfulness meditation can help individuals with ADHD develop these skills.
- Improved relationships: People with ADHD may struggle with maintaining relationships due to attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity difficulties. By practicing mindfulness, individuals with ADHD may be able to better understand and regulate their emotions and behavior, leading to improved relationships with friends, family, and partners.
- Reduced stress and anxiety: Mindfulness meditation is effective in reducing stress and anxiety in people with ADHD, as well as in the general population. By developing mindfulness, individuals with ADHD may be better able to cope with the challenges of daily life and feel more calm and composed.
By working on meditation and getting a handle on one’s ADHD symptoms, people can improve their quality of life and enjoy these positive effects over relatively short periods of time.
What Does the Research Say About Meditation as a Treatment for ADHD?
There is a well-established body of research on the use of meditation for ADHD, with the results clearly showing that meditation is an effective treatment for ADHD.
One study published in the Journal of Child Neurology found that mindfulness meditation improved attention and decreased impulsivity in a group of children with ADHD. The study assessed 30 children with ADHD who voluntarily participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based therapy program. The research showed significant improvements in attention and impulsivity compared to a control group.
Another example published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD in adults. The study included 46 adults with ADHD who participated in an eight-week mindfulness-based cognitive therapy program. The results of this study demonstrated clear improvements in attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity relative to a control group.
Finally, a review and meta-analysis published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology further support the findings that mindfulness-based interventions are effective in reducing symptoms of ADHD in children and adolescents. The review included 25 studies with a total of 1,566 participants and clearly shows meditation for ADHD leads to significant improvements in ADHD symptoms compared to control conditions.
How to meditate with ADHD: Techniques and tips
If you have ADHD and are interested in trying meditation, here are some tips and techniques to consider:
- Find a quiet place: Choose a quiet, distraction-free place to meditate. This can help you stay focused and present during your practice.
- Start small: Begin with short meditation sessions, gradually increasing the length as you become more comfortable.
- Use guided meditation for ADHD: Consider using a guided meditation app or listening to a guided meditation recording to help you get started.
- Focus on your breath: One common meditation technique is to focus on your breath, bringing your attention to the sensation of the breath moving in and out of your body.
- Use a mantra: Another technique is to use a mantra, such as “peace” or “calm,” to focus the mind.
- Use candle meditation: Another option is to focus on an external point, such as a candle flame. This helps pull awareness away from the self and focus externally, which can help some practitioners.
- Be patient: Meditation can be challenging at first, but becomes easier with practice. Be patient with yourself, and don’t get discouraged if you find it difficult at first.
The Takeaway: Meditation for ADHD and How to do it
Meditation can be a helpful treatment for ADHD, potentially calming down the symptoms of ADHD.
While it may be challenging at first, with practice, meditation can become a valuable tool in managing symptoms of ADHD.
If you have ADHD and are interested in trying meditation, consider finding a quiet, distraction-free place to practice, starting with short sessions and using guided meditation or focusing on your breath or physical sensations to help you stay present and focused.