OK! I must admit that I am not as open as I think I am. Over the years, I had ADHD students who squirmed through sitting meditation sessions; they claimed to be distracted by every little sound and always wanted to learn new routines. I was always puzzled as to what benefits they received from my classes. Once they got into the routine of these classes, they just showed up regularly for the classes.
Here are some comments I received from these students
“Wow! I have never felt so deeply relaxed”
“I love that I am more aware of my emotions. I feel I can step out and observe my feelings and emotions rather than react”
“The loving, kindness peace meditation helps me be more compassionate and loving towards myself”
Recently, one of my students lent me a book The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals by Lidia Zylowska.The book hit me like a ton of bricks!
I became more curious and checked out the latest research papers on meditation and ADHD. These students have got it right. Meditation CAN help people with ADHD.
Here are some lessons my ADHD students have taught me about the power of meditation.
Lesson 1 – ADHD is not about attention deficiency – it is about attention regulation. Meditation is the “Awareness of Awareness”. We have learned that it is perfectly alright for the mind to wander and the act of meditation and mindfulness is about bringing the mind to the present. The analogy is that your mind that is like a puppy dog that wanders around you AND when you offer it a hug, it comes back to you wagging its tail. I use a lighted candle or ring the meditation bell to draw the attention of my students to the present. My students have been able to leverage these techniques to relax themselves.
Lesson 2 – Visualization and Kinesthetic exercises work best for me - Most people think of meditation as a boring activity of sitting quietly and having no thoughts. My students appreciate the variety of techniques I teach. Visualization exercises (such as the Happy Place, included in Step-By-Step Meditation), tracing complex designs or walking meditations seem to work best for many of my ADHD students.
Lesson 3 – Teach meditation step-by-step - I am very creative. My ADHD students have a very active imagination and they love when I let them play around with their mental exercises. They prefer it when I teach them one step at a time. I take time to repeat my exercises. They are very creative and modify the meditation programs to get the most out of it.
Advice for adults and children with ADHD who want to learn meditation
This 15 minute guided meditation helps the student to a deep meditative state while tracing a labyrinth design.
The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals by Lidia Zylowska.
The Gift of ADHD: How to Transform Your Child's Problems into Strengths by Lara Honos-Webb
ADD Stole My Car Keys by Rick Green and Umesh Jain.
Monastra, V.J. (2005). Overcoming the barriers to effective treatment for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder: A neuroeducational approach. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 58, 71-80
S Van der Oord, SM Bögels, D Peijnenburg - The effectiveness of mindfulness training for children with ADHD and mindful parenting for their parents, Journal of Child and Family Studies, February 2012, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 139-147,
E van de Weijer-Bergsma, AR Formsma The effectiveness of mindfulness training on behavioral problems and attentional functioning in adolescents with ADHD Journal of child and Family, October; 21(5): 775–787. 2012 - Springer
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.