How to Meditate with ADHD
- “I feel so overwhelmed with life. I don’t know where to start.”
- “I’m easily distracted, especially with tasks that I don’t prefer to do.”
- “I find it hard to control and balance out my emotions, and find that they can swing wildly moment to moment.”
- “I find myself acting impulsively and have issues with self-control.”
These are some life experiences of those who suffer from Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. These are also very common experiences of everyone who suffers from an overwhelm of stress and demands in life.
With so much information (and misinformation) in the Google-sphere and rampant social media self-diagnoses, how does one really know if they’re simply experiencing an overtaxed nervous system, or if one should seek a clinical diagnosis of ADHD?
ADHD is, as many news articles and media outlets say, having its moment. Between the pandemic highlighting – and normalizing – mental health challenges and celebrating our journeys in becoming healthier and more vibrant, the experience and diagnosis of ADHD are taking center stage.
From the perspective of Veda, the body of knowledge from which all Eastern medicine stems, whether one is clinically diagnosed with ADHD or simply suffering from the often overwhelming demands of life, one can find relief and support by creating more calm and orderliness in the mind and body through a regular practice of Vedic Meditation.
Specifically, Vedic Meditation for ADHD can significantly support one’s journey to feeling less reactive, more emotionally balanced, and less distractible in everyday life.
You may be wondering, “Can someone with ADHD meditate successfully? Doesn’t meditation require concentration, the exact skill, and function that is elusive for those with ADHD?”
It’s a fair question. Many meditation styles do employ lots of focus and concentration, which will naturally be challenging for anyone afflicted with symptoms of ADHD. Luckily, not all of them do, and these are the ones that are most successful in supporting anyone on the healing journey of ADHD.
So, let’s ask a better question: With so many different styles of meditation currently available, can certain types of meditation be more suitable for people with ADHD?
The answer is a resounding YES, absolutely. Learning how to meditate with ADHD is simple once you identify the correct style of meditation for the imbalance of distractibility.
There are many meditation techniques that use concentration or focus, such as guided meditations, visualizations, or mindfulness-based meditations. While they all have their benefits, concentrative meditation techniques can be very challenging to practice successfully for anyone who is experiencing overwhelm, especially for those who suffer from ADHD.
Imagine having a cognitive disposition against concentrating, with or without a formal diagnosis. Perhaps you’ve already had a long day number crunching, analyzing a project, or focused on multiple tasks and getting organized.
Now, you’re looking for relaxing meditation practice. You sit down, and close your eyes. But instead of letting your mind rest, the guided meditation or mindfulness practice you’ve just started is asking your brain to continue on with another concentrative task.
Now sure, it’s not the same things you were thinking about during the day, but the brain is still working as hard as before to meditate in this focused and concentrative way.
So, you continue to strain and concentrate inside meditation, white-knuckling it and hoping it works.
At some point, you hit the wall. No more concentration, the brain says! You bail on the meditation and think to yourself, “Oh, there’s another thing that I failed at.”
This is an experience that many who suffer from ADHD relay to me when coming to me for meditation advice. Because of its emphasis on focus and concentration, even a meditation style like body scanning can aggravate the mind of someone who feels spent from the day.
In this case, mindfulness meditation practice will likely be frustrating and not deliver results for ADHD sufferers who tend to get “burnt out” even more easily. You can see how mindfulness meditation for ADHD would not work together very successfully in this scenario.
In these highly exhausting times, what the mind and body are looking for is a contrasting experience. One that is relaxing, that is not controlling or focused, one that provides deep, deep rest.
HOW VEDIC MEDITATION FOR ADHD IS EFFECTIVE AND EFFORTLESS
Vedic Meditation can help with ADHD by providing this contrasting experience, and so much more. It is an effortless, meditation technique that does not require any focus or concentration.
Inside a Vedic Meditation sitting, we use a settling sound (mantra) to allow the mind to go quiet, naturally. No concentration or focus is needed. In fact, when one tries to use focus or concentration, the technique does not work.
So while Vedic Meditation is not a specifically designed ADHD meditation practice, it works for those looking to overcome ADHD as it works with the mind’s desire to rest in an unfocused and relaxed way.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “Feeling unfocused and non-concentration is why living with ADHD is so difficult. Why would I take the time to experience the opposite of what I need more than ever?”
To answer this question, let’s first take a step back and look at why our minds have trouble concentrating (whether you have been diagnosed with ADHD or simply experiencing overwhelm in life).
From the Vedic psychology perspective, whether one is professionally diagnosed with ADHD or not, an unsettled and distracted mind is a result of accumulated and stored stresses in the body that create an unfulfilled mental experience.
Because the stresses of the body are causing the mind to always be looking to find a happier experience than now, and one that can feel more fulfilled, the mind jumps from thought to thought, emotion to emotion, and one can find it hard to land in one thought for a longer period of time.
A BALANCED AND SATISFIED MIND IS ONE THAT CAN FOCUS EASILY AND EFFORTLESSLY
Veda tells us that a completely well-rested and nourished mind and body is one that lives from the place of satisfaction. And with a nourished and satisfied mind, one can focus and concentrate on anything in life for as long as it’s relevant to do so.
From the broadest perspective, this is how Vedic Meditation and ADHD can work together. By practicing Vedic Meditation twice-daily, the mind and body fully rest to deep levels where accumulated stresses are released with regularity. As the stresses leave the body, the person who is experiencing the symptoms of distractibility and emotional turbulence is not as triggered by previous experiences that may have caused that distractibility.
In addition, Vedic Meditation for ADHD sufferers has an enjoyable settling effect on the mind and body. Within a few minutes of sitting down and repeating a Vedic Meditation mantra, the mind begins to settle down into more quietude and orderliness, which then lulls the body into a deeply restful state.
In this deep rest, the mind and body begin to saturate in a natural bliss and fulfillment that encourages even more deep rest.
This virtuous cycle of mutual enrichment inside meditation – deep rest, bliss, and fulfillment – begins to take one’s mind outside of meditation into a much more relaxed and settled state.
By cultivating periods of deep rest and a “power down” of chaotic, distractive activity through this virtuous cycle of mutual enrichment, we can then fully go out into the world outside of meditation feeling energized and clear, and place our focus and attention more successfully.
To-do lists don’t feel as overwhelming and projects (and the sequencing of projects) will feel much more organized and sensible. From this very satisfied and well-rested, clear state, the demands of life will feel not only manageable but enjoyable.
INCREASED MENTAL STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION
In addition to releasing accumulated stresses that play a role in the prevalence of ADHD traits and symptoms, Vedic Meditation can also help those who suffer from ADHD symptoms with increased structure in their lives. Once a person learns how to meditate with ADHD in this easy and effortless way, they will also begin to enjoy bookending their days with a solid meditation practice.
Vedic Meditation is practiced in the morning and afternoon or evening. The morning session promotes a centering task from the first moments of waking up, which sets up every meditator for increased structure and organization throughout the day. In the afternoon, when energy and attention levels wane after a long day of doing and achieving, the second meditation allows those who manage ADHD meditation time that is nourishing, restorative, and again, centering.
In between the morning and afternoon sessions, meditators who have been diagnosed with ADHD or experience ADHD traits report that they feel more clear in their goals, know better how to manage their time, and use their morning and after meditation for ADHD management.
Meditators experiencing ADHD traits also report that after the regular and consistent practice of Vedic Meditation they are performing at their highest level and feel more confident in their focused attention and concentration skills.
GREATER EMOTIONAL BALANCE AND FEELINGS OF EQUANIMITY
One of the greatest benefits of Vedic Meditation is the ability to feel calm and at peace within one’s life irrespective of the events of the day, month, or week. At the heart of emotional imbalances are unreleased stress memories that act as triggers when the mind and body are overtaxed and overworked.
In the world of someone who suffers from ADHD, this can look like feeling frustrated at the distractions of the day, which then triggers old memories of this having happened before, fearing the consequences, and emotionally spinning out of control.
This can also feel like an overwhelming of ideas and emotions, which then trigger deep and raw feelings throughout the day. These overwhelming and undealt-with emotions then get stored away as even more deeply ingrained stress triggers that serve themselves up at a later date for retriggering.
When one practices Vedic Meditation, as these stress triggers are released from the physiology through deep rest during the practice, the stress begins to lose its grip on those who suffer from ADHD-related stress and trauma.
Feelings of worry and anxiety are replaced with growing feelings of bliss and equanimity. When there are stress reactions felt, Vedic Meditators report that they don’t feel them as deeply, and recover much more quickly.
This increase in the stress bounce-back rate is extremely advantageous to those who suffer from ADHD, as they can keep moving and feeling happy progress instead of being stuck in the cycle of anxiety-related ADHD. In this way, meditation and ADHD can not only work together but can Vedic Meditation can act as a welcome circuit breaker for stress triggers to begin loosening their effect on those affected by ADHD.
In addition to the release of stress triggers, Vedic Meditation for ADHD sufferers can help cultivate more inner happiness and resilience. As I explained earlier in this article, the saturation into the fulfilled state of the mind and body is one of the unique key features of Vedic Meditation.
When the mind and body are regularly exposed to this well of bliss and being, one naturally comes out of meditation with increased percentages of unshakeable resilience born from being naturally fulfilled.
In the Vedic tradition, we say that our natural state is one of bliss and fulfillment. Those who suffer from ADHD are not excluded from this fundamental law of Nature. This should be our default baseline of life. And with the regular practice of Vedic Meditation, we can begin to reclaim this birthright and begin to enjoy a life with less frustration and discouragement.
How to Meditate with ADHD: Take the Next Step
So, not only can someone with ADHD meditate the Vedic way successfully and without frustration, but for everyone who is feeling degrees of ADHD on the entire spectrum of experiences, Vedic Meditation can be extremely supportive in balancing out the ADHD symptoms of distraction and discomfort.
The next step is to attend a Vedic Meditation Course with a qualified instructor. The course takes place over 4-days, 90-minutes each day. Your expert instructor will know exactly how to help you enjoy meditation for ADHD and guide you on the journey to step beyond the confines of the diagnosis.
Attending an Introductory Talk is a prerequisite for the course, and I encourage everyone who is looking for support, structure, and community to join Susan for a talk. Learn more by checking out the latest Vedic Meditation news and frequently asked questions.