It may appear that meditation is nothing more than sitting still. Meditation is an intentional mechanism that teaches the brain to relax and be present.
If you or your child has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), meditating can sound difficult.
Research suggests that people with ADHD can meditate effectively and that meditation can help some of the behaviors associated with ADHD.
Here are eight tips to help you or your child learn to meditate and treat ADHD-related habits.
1. Dedicate a specific time of day to meditation
Some people feel that meditating first thing in the morning will help them cope with the stresses of the day. Early morning meditation will also help you incorporate it into your routine before your everyday routines begin.
If you are a night owl or have trouble falling asleep, meditating right before bed might be a safer option for you.
There is no such thing as a bad day to meditate. What matters most is determining whether you will be able to incorporate it into your schedule.
2. Find a comfortable position
There’s no one specific pose that enables meditation more readily than any other.
Some people like the typical positions associated with this ritual, such as the crossed-legged lotus posture. However, you can meditate either seated in your comfortable chair or lying down in bed.
Whatever location you choose, make sure it is comfortable enough for you to hold for the length of your meditation session.
3. Wear relaxed clothing
It can be more difficult to calm your mind if your trousers’ waistband digs into your skin or your sweater itch.
The same is true for earrings that dangle from your ears or shoes that are too tight. Wear clothes that fit well and are comfortable for you.
4. Turn off your phone
Place yourself in a calm, distraction-free environment, free of mobile device reminders such as text messaging and incoming email.
Close the door or go into a room where you can be quiet for the duration of your meditation if possible.
5. Remember that quiet is relative
It is possible to meditate effectively even though you live in a city on a busy street. Meditation, through repetition, will teach you to ignore distractions by concentrating on your breathing patterns.
If you choose, you can also tune out noise by meditating to soft music or using a guided meditation app.
6. Pay attention to your breathing
Meditation uses the experience of breathing naturally to anchor the mind to the present moment.
Begin by naturally breathing in and out, noticing how it makes the body feel. When you’re ready, take a deep breath in and notice how your body feels. Is your stomach churning? Do you have a complete feeling in your chest?
Hold your breath for a few seconds, then exhale softly for as long as your breath takes. Take note of how the body responds when it exhales.
7. Let your mind wander
The nature of the mind is to think — and it will, even during meditation.
When your mind wanders away from the present moment, merely remember the thinking and return your attention to your breath. Accept that thinking is the essence of the mind, and grant yourself permission to have a wandering mind.
Don’t criticize yourself or concentrate your mind on your emotions. Simply return your consciousness to the present moment by concentrating on your breathing.
8. End your practice slowly
If you meditate for one minute or thirty, allow yourself a few seconds or minutes to return to the current moment after the experience.
- If your eyes were closed, open them.
- Take a moment to notice what is happening in your environment.
- Notice how your body feels.
- Take a moment to acknowledge your emotions and thoughts.
What the research says about the benefits of meditation for ADHD
ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects both children and adults. There are three categories correlated with the main classes of behaviors:
- inattention: getting easily distracted or having trouble concentrating
- impulsivity: taking excessive risks or being interruptive
- hyperactivity: having high energy levels that don’t seem to subside and often manifest as fidgeting or fast speech
Meditation can help minimize ADHD-related symptoms including difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, and impulsivity.
Multiple studies Trusted Source have analyzed mindfulness meditation’s effects on ADHD-like symptoms in the general population — with positive results. Meditation seems to promote and enhance on-task, focused focus, decrease mind wandering, and control emotion, according to research.
One study Trusted Source on high school students found it beneficial for reducing impulsivity and aggression. These findings have been substantiated in several studies specific to people with ADHD.
One small study Trusted Source of adults with ADHD found that meditating improved emotional regulation as well as the mental skill sets associated with executive functioning, including:
- Flexible thinking
- Working memory
A systematic review Trusted Source of 13 studies with a combined total of 753 adults found that mindfulness-based interventions, including meditation, had benefits for the reduction of ADHD-associated behaviors.
These findings are also supported by observational data from parents of children with ADHD and people with this condition.
Is there proof that meditation for ADHD works?
The effects of meditation for people with ADHD have not been conclusively proved. Several factors influence the reliability of certain reports, including:
- high levels of bias
- small study size
- lack of control groups
One systematic review Trusted Source of randomized controlled trials on meditation and ADHD found that more high-quality studies are needed.
Nonetheless, amid a scarcity of significant, high-quality research on ADHD and meditation, meditation seems to have real benefits. Anecdotal research suggests that meditation helps millions of people concentrate and feel relaxed.
Other lifestyle tips for ADHD
Additional lifestyle treatments and tips you may wish to try for ADHD include:
- Dietary improvements, such as excluding certain ingredients from your diet and supplementing your diet with vitamins and minerals.
- Parent training psychotherapy is a type of behavior therapy.
- Changes in lifestyle, such as the preservation of a consistent schedule and the avoidance of environmental disruptions by the use of organizational resources, such as applications that offer alerts and time management advice.
- social skills development.
Be sure to see a doctor if you think you or your child may have ADHD
Meditation, while beneficial, is not meant to be the sole treatment utilized for ADHD.
Since ADHD-related habits vary and can include neurological and mood-related symptoms such as anxiety, consult with a doctor who is trained in diagnosing ADHD. To assess the proper diagnosis and treatment, they will require a full physical and psychiatric history.
Consulting with a psychiatrist or therapist will also assist you in developing a multifaceted recovery plan that can succeed in the long run. This is particularly important if you are unsure if you or your child suffers from ADHD.
The Take Away
According to research, mediation may help reduce destructive ADHD-related symptoms including difficulty concentrating and impulsivity.
Despite a large body of evidence supporting the benefits of meditation in the general population, high-quality studies focusing on ADHD and meditation are lacking. Nonetheless, observational findings and current scientific evidence suggest that meditation may be beneficial to children and adults suffering from this disorder.
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