Meditation for the ADHD Mind - Yoga Practice Blog

Meditation for the ADHD Mind

meditation for the ADHD mindBy Faye Martins

Will meditation for the ADHD mind make a difference? ADHD makes some of the most basic things in life difficult, but it doesn’t have to be so. For adults and teens with ADHD, meditation offers a way to learn how to focus and pay attention when it matters most. People with ADHD want to succeed and achieve just like their non-ADHD counterparts, but their condition frequently sabotages their best efforts. The more they try to focus or be on time, the less they can do so. This makes success difficult, especially in traditional 9-5 careers. For this reason, people with ADHD often find ways to earn money off the beaten path or even own their businesses so they can work with their unique energy rhythms.



If you have ADHD, starting a meditation practice can be daunting. There are so many things to pay attention to – your breath, your body, your thoughts – and it can feel like you’re constantly moving while sitting still. There are huge benefits to meditation for the ADHD mind. It can help you focus, ease anxiety and stress, improve sleep, and boost self-awareness and self-acceptance. So how do you begin?

Meditation for the ADHD Mind

1. Start small. Don’t try to meditate for hours at a time. Start with just a few minutes a day, and gradually increase the amount of time you meditate as you get more comfortable with it.

2. Find a comfortable position. You don’t need to sit cross-legged on the floor like a yogi to meditate. Just find a position that’s comfortable for you, whether sitting in a chair with your feet on the ground or lying down on your back.

3. Focus on your breath. One of the most important things to do in meditation is to focus on your breath. This will help anchor you in the present moment and keep your mind from wandering off into thoughts about the past or future. Observe each inhale and exhale, and if your mind starts to wander, gently bring it back to your breath.

4. Don’t judge yourself.


Explosive Anger

Personal relationships also suffer when the ADHD mind rules your life. Procrastinating about returning a friend’s call or jumping up and leaving during a birthday party are actions that will send the wrong message to those close to you. Add to that those with ADHD frequently experience bursts of unexpected, explosive anger, and you have a recipe for problems in personal relationships. Experts agree that the best treatment for ADHD mind is behavioral therapy. They say that those with ADHD must train their minds to focus, but how can this be achieved? Focusing on focusing doesn’t seem like a reasonable answer.

Safe Environment

This is where meditation comes in. Individuals with ADHD may use meditation to train their minds to focus in a safe environment where nothing is on the line. Meditation methods will need to be modified specifically for the ADHD mind to succeed, but it’s worthwhile. There are a few different meditation methods that are wonderful for those with ADHD, and in the end, the method itself doesn’t matter. The important thing is to select the method that appeals most to the individual.


Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is excellent for those with hyperactivity. The goal of the walking meditation should be to make the walk as engaging and alive as possible. Feel the sole as it makes contact with the ground. Feel the wind as it blows against your face. Smell all the scents you come across as you enjoy your daily walk. Think of it as the ultimate indulgence, this beautiful walk.  This same principle of meditation in motion can be applied to Sun Salutations, Vinyasa flows, or a Power Yoga class.

Breath Awareness

Not everyone with ADHD has hyperactivity; many are inattentive and dreamy in their day-to-day lives. For those individuals, a modified version of the basic breath awareness meditation may be the best choice. In normal breath awareness meditation, the practitioner counts the breath until a passing thought enters the mind. When the mind wanders, the count is reset. This is usually ineffective for those with ADHD and makes them feel bad about themselves because they can’t even break into the double digits before returning to zero.


Coping with Distraction

A more positive variation of this to use in the beginning is to reset the count only when the individual forgets what number they were on. A person with ADHD will lose track of what number they are on when they become completely distracted, and starting again from zero means that they became aware of their mind wandering and brought their mind back to the present. In this way, every time they return to zero may be considered a small success. The ADHD mind will always wander at the beginning, so the best approach is to work with it instead of against it.

Building Concentration Skills

The irony is that by focusing on one thing, an individual will learn how to focus on something when the situation demands it. Those with ADHD are plagued by a mind that does not like to be quiet and is constantly seeking escape from the present moment. By learning how to honor and enjoy the present, those with ADHD regain control over their lives.


Living with ADHD

ADHD can be difficult to live with, characterized by symptoms like impulsivity, hyperactivity, and difficulty concentrating. Many people with ADHD turn to medication to help manage their symptoms, but other options are also available. Meditation is one such option that is gaining popularity to help ease ADHD symptoms. But does meditation help with ADHD? The jury is still out on this one, as more research needs to be done to say for sure.

Worth the Effort

Some studies suggest meditation may benefit people with ADHD. The objective is for people to focus better and feel calmer, which is important for managing ADHD symptoms. So while we can’t say definitively whether or not meditation will help your ADHD, it is worth a try if you’re looking for alternative treatment options. If you decide to give it a go, find a quiet place to meditate and commit to doing it regularly for the best results. Streaming videos are helpful guides when going through practice and are worth the effort.


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Related Research

Arnold, L.E. (2001). Alternative treatments for adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Annals of the New York Academy of Science, 931, 310-341.

Katzmann J, et al. (2016) Behavioral and nondirective guided self-help for parents of children with externalizing behavior: mediating mechanisms in a head-to-head comparison. J Abnorm Child Psychol 45(4):719–730

Sonuga-Barke EJ et al. (2013) Nonpharmacological interventions for ADHD: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials of dietary and psychological treatments. Am J Psychiatry 170(3):275–289

Krisanaprakornkit T, et al. (2010) Meditation therapies for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Cochrane (6):CD006507

Related Studies

Bögels SM, de Bruin EI, van der Oord S (2013) Mindfulness-based interventions in child and adolescent psychopathology, cognitive behavior therapy for children and families. In: Graham P et al. (eds), 3rd edition, Cambridge University Press, New York, p 371-384

Smalley SL et al. (2009) Mindfulness and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. J Clin Psychol 65(10):1087–1098

Singh NN et al. (2010) Mindfulness training for parents and their children with ADHD increases the children’s compliance. J Child Family Stud 19(2):157–166

De La Fuente A et al. (2013) A review of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder from the perspective of brain networks. Front Hum Neurosci 7:192

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