I realize this is the case for just about everybody, even those without ADHD. My friend Scott posted on Facebook a couple days ago his own need to become mindful again—a thought that many of us appreciated him sharing. Because mindfulness is hard, anyways.
And THEN, ADHD is like
Yeah, mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword—to me, that means mindlessness has become a prevailing approach to life, and the majority of us need to make a more conscious effort toward mindfulness. Which is simple.
Mindfulness is simply (per definition 2 on Google):
a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.
To dig deeper, the mindful approach means acknowledging and accepting feeling, thoughts and so forth without judgement, embracing that it is okay to feel the things you are feeling—even if you want to change your reaction or the situation you are in.
I read an article yesterday from ADDitude that explored emotions and ADHD. Emotions are hard to quantify, so guess what? They’re not included in the diagnostic criteria for ADHD, despite how common overly-intense or difficult to navigate/manage feelings are for people with ADHD—which, the rest of the world might interpret as overreactions or meltdowns. Another interesting fact from the article is how sometimes people with ADHD simply cannot articulate or identify how or what we are feeling (more here) and that it can be hard for us to interpret how others feel, especially when we are overwhelmed.
These are things that I definitely experience, and find that regular mindfulness practice can help immensely with: when I’m in a more mindful headspace, I pause to think—and breathe—before I react.
For me, this is what mindfulness is about: the pauses. They do not have to be long, but they have to be enough to plant me back where I am—to ground me—to reclaim a sense of calm when my mind is in the past and future simultaneously and not in the place I can control: right now. It’s about taking a few moments to hear the leaves crinkling along the sidewalk in the breeze and feeling my feet hit the sidewalk. It’s about remembering that my body exists and dropping the tension in my shoulders when I’m working. It’s about actually hearing the music I am listening to, picking out something new I hadn’t caught before. It’s about pausing to actually recognize the emotions I am experiencing before they are able to take over too much. It’s about the pauses.
When I am meditating regularly, I take these lessons out into the world with me. I am much better for it. It is still super hard, but, it helps. That’s where I’m at: I’m not about to trade my ADHD meds for mindfulness, but in tandem, they’re a solid pair helping me tackle the chaos that can be the ADHD life. Yeah, I’ll mess up—both in general, and with the mindfulness—but I’ll be able to tackle the obstacles better if I’m checked in to a more mindful space.