ADHD is the Reason I Can’t Meditate
At the time of writing, we are in the middle of ADHD awareness month. Many sufferers of this cognitive impairment wisely turn to mindfulness to improve their focus, only to discover that it is especially challenging for them. A worthy exercise like this, that actually might be of help, feels distant and impossible. If this is true for you, an active meditation might be an option. I’m going to give you my favorite one; a walking meditation that will be right up your street. (Feeble pun intended).
ADHD is nothing to be taken lightly. Now, if you think you have it, of course you need to put your diagnosis and treatment in the capable hands of experienced medical professionals. They may or may not decide to put you on medication. Nothing I am about to say in any way amounts to a replacement to whatever treatment the doctor deems appropriate.
I’m following the Doctor’s Advice… Now what about this walking meditation?
First, let’s establish some ground rules if you want to make meditation work for you
- It should be easy to do at the drop of a hat. This means you don’t have to run around lighting candles and incense, white robes and Tibetan gong music in the background.
- It should be active. They say that ADHD people have the motor of a Ferrari and the brakes of a Ford Pinto (It wasn’t their best car). Your body tends to favour movement, so instead of spending thirty minutes fidgeting and annoying yourself, make movement the star of the show.
- It should be simple. Some meditations require advanced levels of focused attention to begin with. Let’s walk before we run, then.
“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb-nail.”Henry David Thoreau
If you follow these rules, you can minimize the “can’t be bothered” feeling that comes creeping in through the back door. All you have to do is stand up and leave the house. Don’t worry about making it relaxing or spiritual or anything.
Going for a Nice Stroll? That’s it?
Alright then, it’s a bit more complicated than that. You do indeed go out for a nice stroll, but you have a mission. Exciting, huh? Now, the ADHD brain is easily distracted and emotionally reactive.
Your mission (if you decide to accept it) is to keep your attention on walking. Keep your eyes with a full awareness of your surroundings. See everything and get distracted by nothing. This is one of the few meditations that is best done in a city street. EVERTHING in a city is competing for your attention, and we all know how our attention in particular tends to ping-pong from stimulus to stimulus.
Feel yourself being pulled and pushed by your reactions to each stimulus… and then pull your attention away. Go back to looking where you are going… and dodging puddles.
I’m going to get distracted
Well then, get to Know Your Distractions
Maybe it’s the pretty girls and handsome boys that grab your attention, perhaps it’s a cool Motorbike parked majestically and gleaming in the sunlight, perhaps the shop fronts are selling colours, smells and bright lights. all designed to capture your attention. Your task is merely to traverse the area, keeping your focus on your next step, on the clearest path through the crowd, on the puddles to be avoided, and your objective. You can do it going from place to place, so you don’t even have to carve out time.
But I REALLY can’t be Bothered!
Yes, I know. These are things that you can put into practice when you yourself decide that it’s worth trying. Are you sick of having ADHD? I know I am. So… Do what you can and don’t do what you can’t. Step by step, and bit by bit we can sharpen our conscious minds to whatever degree we find ourselves capable of. Maybe you have to be REALLY sick of it before you try any mindfulness technique. It might, however, be the thing you most need right now. No pressure at all, friends. Try it when you are ready… and then keep going.
Brendan C. Clarke