Meditation and Yoga for ADHD
Okay, you can stop laughing now.
I’m sure you’re saying to yourself, “Yoga and meditation? It’s just not me.” There’s no question that practicing meditation is something that won’t come naturally to attention-deficit people. What are the chances that you can become the perfect Zen master, sitting still for hours, not moving and barely breathing? I think we all know the answer. And let’s face it, that ideal is beyond the reach of most folks who don’t have ADHD.
However, if your goal is not to be as calm and focused as a Zen master, but just calmer and better at focusing, chances are good that you can achieve that goal. Though probably not the most hyperactive person you’ve ever met, I am still pretty hyper. I have successfully practiced both meditation and yoga, and found that I do enjoy achieving a more peaceful state.
First of all, don’t expect perfection, or even success. That might sound a bit “defeatist,” but chances are good that you’re going to need to attempt meditation a few times before you reach a calmer state. If you’re realistic about the level of difficulty, you are less likely to get frustrated. And remember, your goal is not to empty your mind of all thought, but to simply turn down the noise.
I’m not going to go over how to practice meditation, since you can find that information easily online or in Meditation for Dummies, but I can offer some tips on giving yourself the best chance of success.
If you take medication for your ADHD, you should definitely schedule your first few meditation practices to coincide with the peak effectiveness of your medicine.
The usual technique of finding a quiet space and sitting cross-legged on the floor with your eyes closed and chanting a mantra in your head might not work for you, at least until you get some practice under your belt. There are several different meditation techniques. Explore them until you find the one that’s the most effective for you.
If you’re not making progress sitting while practicing meditation, try moving around, walking around your house or outside.
People with ADD/ADHD are frequently visual learners, so you might find that concentrating on an image instead of a sound is more effective.
Yoga is not the first exercise that most people with ADHD will be attracted to. It’s slow, and slow, to someone with ADHD, equals boring. But yoga is a two-fer - not only do you get a decent strength workout, but it is also thought to be a good way to lower blood pressure. While I don’t do well on a strict exercise diet of yoga, I do enjoy alternating my aerobics with yoga at least twice a week. I swear, you can almost feel your blood pressure getting lower. Also, it may not be as much of a challenge as meditation, if you’ve found that too frustrating, since you are moving instead of sitting still.
Deborah Gray wrote about depression as a Patient Expert for HealthCentral. She lived with undiagnosed clinical depression, both major episodes and dysthymia, from childhood through young adulthood. She was finally diagnosed at age 27, and since that time, her depression has been successfully managed with medication and psychotherapy.