Mindfulness has become a very big buzz word throughout the ADHD community. Unfortunately, many are left confused about what exactly mindfulness is and how it can be helpful in treating ADHD. Mindfulness is a practice of increasing awareness and focus of a particular feeling, action, situation, or decision. Increasing awareness and focus is critical to the management of adult ADHD. Mindfulness has been used in almost every culture for millennia, with different terms and descriptions.
Many people with ADHD understandably are skeptical of a practice that requires slowing down and focusing. However, most people very quickly experience the benefits of mindfulness without issue.
When mindfulness is used, it trains the brain to strengthen the pathways associated with attention, awareness, and focus. The trick is to use a technique that works for each individual’s current ability level. For example, if someone is highly impulsive and hyperactive, they may need to utilize a mindfulness practice that incorporates movement. If someone is highly distractible, they may need to use a practice that is brief. Regardless of where the person starts, they often find themselves developing the ability to be mindful fairly quickly.
Dan Siegel, MD of UCLA has a fantastic guided meditation called the Wheel of Awareness. Although it is not an ADHD specific practice, it can work wonders for training a person’s brain to use mindfulness, boost focus, and increase awareness.
At our clinic we incorporate some of our own mindfulness practices developed by our Clinical Director Phil Boissiere, MFT. We encourage you to seek a mindfulness practice that works for you in the management of your ADHD. A great place to dive in is the Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD by Lidia Zylowska, MD. Her book is widely regarded as the definitive text on mindfulness and ADHD.