We’ve written quite often about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation, but we also recognize that it is sometimes a difficult practice to get into. Meditation is an active process that trains the brain to focus on the present — it’s much more than just quietly sitting still.
For those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), meditation may be extra challenging, however, studies show that people with ADHD can meditate, and doing so has many benefits for some of the behaviors associated with the disorder. Here are eight meditation tips for individuals with ADHD (or parents with kids that have been diagnosed with ADHD) that can help you manage ADHD-associated behaviors.
Dedicate a specific time of day to meditation
There’s no right or wrong time to meditate—it all depends on how you function as a person. Perhaps you find that meditating in the morning can help you face the day stress-free. Or, if you’re a night owl, then maybe meditating right before bed will help you get better sleep. The choice is yours, but make sure to stay as consistent as possible to build it into your routine.
Find a comfortable position
Try out different poses and find the one that you can maintain for the duration of your meditation practice with relative ease and comfort. Some traditional poses, like the crossed-legged lotus position, are more common, but there are no rules against meditating while laying in bed or sitting in a comfy chair.
Wear relaxed clothing
Be sure to rid your body of anything that may distract you or give you discomfort. This could mean switching from stiff jeans to comfy sweatpants, removing dangling earrings, or kicking off tight shoes.
Turn off your phone
Once you’re in comfortable clothing that doesn’t restrict or distract you, do the same for your space. Make sure to set up in a quiet location that is free from potential distractions like alerts on your phone. Put your devices on silent or, better yet, remove them from the space completely.
Remember that quiet is relative
You may live in the middle of a bustling city, but don’t let that stop you! With practice, meditation will help you learn to ignore the noise and focus on your breathing. Or perhaps you enjoy white noise but live in a silent country meadow. If so, then you can meditate to soft music or download a guided meditation app.
Pay attention to your breathing
Breathing is key to meditation. It acts as a natural anchor for your mind to continue living in the present moment rather than in your memories of the past or your worries for the future.
Begin by breathing in and out naturally, paying attention to how your body feels. Then, start to deepen your breaths, taking note of your belly and your chest filling with air. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds before gently exhaling.
Let your mind wander
Our minds will often wander — and that’s okay! Refrain from judging yourself and if your thoughts start to drift, acknowledge the thought and then redirect your attention to the breath.
End your practice slowly
No matter how long you meditate for, be sure to give yourself a moment or two to become present again afterward. Don’t jolt yourself out of a meditative state. Take the time to open your eyes, notice how your body feels, and acknowledge your emotions and thoughts.
What the research says about the benefits of meditation for ADHD
Many studies have explored mindfulness meditation’s effects on ADHD-like symptoms in the general population. The data shows that meditation can improve sustained attention, reduce mind wandering, and regulate emotions.
There have also been studies that demonstrate how meditation is linked to reduced impulsivity and aggression, as well as improved mental skills including self-control, flexible thinking, and working memory.
Additional resources: Journal of Attention Disorders—A pilot trial of mindfulness meditation training for ADHD in adulthood