I DEFINITELY can't practice mindfulness. I have ADHD!
I DEFINITELY can't practice mindfulness. I have ADHD! A saying I hear from what is perhaps the entirety of the ADHD community!
That's totally okay, though. I use to feel the same.
I refer to mindfulness as simply being truly in the now - not some crazy "woo woo" idea. Before I began wellness coaching for the ADHD world, I had actually been a mindfulness practitioner for about 3-4 years, right around the time I made a turning point decision in my life to commit to navigating the ADHD brain. I was first sold on the idea of practicing when I first read of Dr. Lidia Zylowska and her team led a study on adults with ADHD suggesting that 78% of them experienced a reduction in symptoms.
Since then, I attended several classes, experimented with several apps, did full on retreats and I've learned that when it comes to ADHD, there are in fact really good and easy ways to practice mindfulness and really difficult ways and I'm here today to share 3 tips to make your mindfulness practice a lot more easy!
1.) "Seek progress, not perfection." - Ryan Holiday
One of the biggest misconceptions that turns a lot of us with ADHD off to a mindfulness practice is that the goal is to empty our minds. I have good news for you - it's so not! I would argue that the goal of mindfulness is to improve self regulation in a self loving way, looking to change your relationship with your mind rather than to silence it.
2. Go. Guided.
I always say that us ADHDers should never pursue personal growth alone, and this ESPECIALY rings true here. The reason I suggest approaching guided meditation is because the chances are high that you will get distracted often. When you have a meditation teacher, whether in person or via a good app like Waking Up (the one I use), 10% Happier or Headspace, the moments of distraction are still definitely there, but they are way less as the teacher at some point will say something a long the lines of "if you're distracted, that's okay! Just gently bring your attention back to your breath." and you're good to go. I find this really helps with being kind to myself as I progress in my practice.
3.) Really hyperactive? Move your butt!
I don't have a randomized, placebo control trial here - but one of the best tips I've been recommended from several Buddhist monks to calm an incredibly busy, hyperactive mind is to practice mindful walking!
Mindful walking can be very similar to a breathing meditation but instead of focusing on the breath, the center of focus can be your feet hitting the ground as you move a little slower than usual.
When practicing mindful walking, I find mantras to be very helpful. Usually out in nature, I'll set a timer for maybe 10 minutes and begin the practice where I simply repeat to myself "stepping left" as I step left and "stepping right" as I step right.
In Thich Nhat Hanh's tradition, they often repeat to themselves with a smile on their face "I have arrived." with each step as a way to practice gratitude. This practice can be really powerful.
At the end of the day, the best mindfulness practice is the one that you'' stick to.
Whether it's 5 minutes a day or 10 minutes, I need you to know that you are so worth taking the time for yourself on a daily basis and so worth learning to navigate your ADHD brain, whether that's with or without meds.