Mindful Meditation for ADHD: Effective Tips and Strategies for Meditating with ADHD




Person with ADHD meditating at a lake during sunrise

My brother James received an ADHD diagnosis at age 7. Now in his late twenties, his symptoms like poor focus, emotional dysregulation, and impulsivity persist, impacting his daily life. Over the years he tried medications and therapy to cope. Despite this, James struggled daily until discovering mindfulness meditation which radically transformed his health and routines.

Table of Contents

In the two years since James began meditating, I’ve observed his transformation as he’s learned to manage his ADHD symptoms better. While he still deals with symptoms, James has found more balance, focus, and peace – achievable through persistent mindfulness training. My intention behind sharing James’ story is to illustrate how meditation for ADHD has empowered him to overcome issues he faces. Keep reading to learn all the tips used to help James.

Key Takeaways

  • Mindfulness meditation can provide significant benefits for those with ADHD such as improved focus, relaxation, emotional regulation, reduced impulsivity and less need for medication.
  • The most helpful meditation techniques for ADHD are often mindfulness, breathwork, mantra, body scans and walking meditations.
  • It’s important to start small with ADHD meditation (5-10 mins daily), use anchors to stay focused, build consistency with reminders/apps and experiment to optimize positions and environments.
  • Tailoring the best time of day, ideal session length and supportive tools/positions to meet individual needs can improve ADHD meditation effectiveness.
  • Mindfulness practices beyond formal meditation like mindful movement, eating and breathwork in daily life are invaluable skill for managing ADHD.
  • Getting family/friend support, using phone prompts and establishing cues that trigger meditation habits long-term helps those with ADHD sustain consistency.
  • While ADHD presents lifelong challenges, building meditation skills for self-awareness, response control and steady attention can profoundly improve wellbeing and symptom management without medication reliance.

Before beginning any meditation practice, it’s important to consult with a licensed professional if you have any health concerns or questions.

Benefits of Meditation for ADHD

The single biggest change has been in James’ boosted ability to focus and sustain attention with activities he once found impossible to stick to for long, like reading, work projects, and conversations. With mindful breathing and noticing techniques giving his ADHD brain better control of wandering thoughts, he now has the right tools to tackle tasks with less distraction.

Improved Focus and Concentration

In the past, James would get frustrated and stressed with himself when he couldn’t complete tasks or control behaviors related to his ADHD. After integrating mindfulness techniques, his mental health saw a positive change. His general anxiety and tension levels have dropped significantly, fostering positive ripple effects in all aspects of his life, including his mood and relationships.

Impulsive, emotional outbursts, which had been a real issue before, damaged James’ self-esteem and connections with people who cared about him. However, by stopping and processing feelings as they come up with mindfulness techniques, he handles emotional turbulence smoothly rather than being controlled by them.

James told me ”Meditating is like giving my overactive mind a set of braces finally – some structure and stability so I can channel my attention.”

The restless energy, impulsive reactions without thinking, excessive talking, and movement James exhibited previously have declined, thanks to the self-awareness and self-control his meditation practice has given him. He developed the right mindfulness techniques to observe his behaviors and triggers, allowing him to pause rather than react habitually as before.

Increased Relaxation and Reduced Stress

Tip: You can incorporate mindful walking and yoga sessions to help channel excess physical energy productively for ADHD while meditating.

Healthier Emotional Regulation

The initial motivation for James to start exploring meditation stemmed from wanting to rely less on ADHD medication, which gave him unpleasant side effects. Within 8 months of dedicated practice, James’ psychologist agreed he could lower some prescriptions since non-drug treatments like mindfulness were effectively reducing the core symptoms of ADHD.

James understood that certain types of meditation proved more valuable than others to ease different ADHD struggles:

  • For focus and attention:
    • Mindfulness meditation
  • For hyperactivity and impulsivity:
    • Breath awareness meditation
  • For emotion regulation:
    • Loving-kindness meditation
  • For overall ADHD symptom management:
    • Mindfulness meditation
    • Breath awareness meditation
    • Loving-kindness meditation

I’ll never forget James telling me after a long meditation session – ”It’s like my emotions were these oversensitive car alarms always going off loudly at every little thing. Now it’s as if I know how to turn down the volume and sensitivity knob finally.”

This foundational style focuses on present moment awareness while noticing thoughts, emotions and sensations is what’s boosted James’ concentration, impulse control and emotional regulation the most. Repeatedly bringing his attention gently back to an anchor like the breath when the ADHD mind wanders, making staying focused becomes easier.

Reduced Hyperactivity and Impulsivity

Sometimes, the classic sitting mindfulness meditation app wasn’t engaging enough for James’ restless ADHD energy. So, techniques guided on controlling, extending and observing the breath gave a more active focal point while cultivating awareness and relief from distracting thoughts. This novel approach, which included exercises derived from reliable sources, provided the much-needed clarity and contributed to lower his stress levels notably, becoming a valuable part of his self-care routines.

ADDitude Magazine: Start with five-minute seated meditations and gradually increase the duration, using visual aids if helpful, as ADHD individuals often benefit from visual learning strategies​​.

One of the exercises that he frequently used was repeating a calming phrase or word silently to himself during meditation. This technique helped give James’ racing ADHD thoughts a structure akin to music notes forming a beautiful melody. The mantra meditation approach set to this rhythm provided mental “training wheels” his brain could cling to until concentration capabilities improved enough to transition to more advanced mindfulness techniques.

Less Need for Medication

Guiding attention slowly through the body and noticing subtle sensations in different regions provided a tangible way to anchor James’ awareness when at school or when emotions or thoughts threatened to hijack it at home. The curiosity this meditation style fostered, much like his school exercises, helped to tune into his physical state and also brought bodily tension relief.

Most Helpful Meditation Techniques for ADHD

On days when sitting still was particularly hard, perhaps due to overwhelming routines at school or work, James found mindful walking – focusing on the sensations of each foot lifting, moving, and making contact with the ground – made meditating more doable. This allowed him to direct that excess ADHD energy into his practice, integrating it rather than resisting.

Mindfulness Meditation

Getting consistent with meditation was almost harder for James than managing his wandering ADHD attention during sessions. However, his self-care practices helped him build the routine as effectively as a well-composed piece of music:


Just like regular exercise routines, consistency with shorter daily sits helped more than long occasional sessions that weren’t sustainable with James’ ADHD profile.

Mantra Meditation

It took some experimentation before James found the right environmental and lifestyle factors enabling him to get the most out of meditation with his ADHD challenges:

Body Scans

James learned early mornings shortly after waking, and before the school day began, worked far better than late evenings for effective ADHD meditation sessions. Hard as it was to adopt an earlier sleep schedule, his brain was most attentive then rather than when drowsy at night.

Walking Meditation

Ignoring the advice of his childhood therapist, who had suggested 30-45-minute sessions per sitting, James found that multiple shorter sessions of 5-15 minutes spaced throughout the day were more beneficial. This approach, much like taking breaks during school routines, gave the ADHD mind the rest it needed.

Tips That Helped James Start an ADHD Meditation Routine

Woman with ADHD meditating in a well lit room with neutral tones.

Classic crossed-leg postures were impossible early on with James’ restless leg syndrome posing an additional distraction. Using a chair, meditation stool, or lying down allowed him to get situated without excessive fidgeting, thereby removing an ADHD symptom barrier.

  • Start small – just 5-10 minutes daily rather than burning out trying to sit for lengthy periods from the start. Slowly increased session length.
  • Used phone alarms, reminders and mindfulness apps to stick to scheduled practice times. Easy to forget otherwise.
  • Invested in comfortable yet stable meditation seating equipment to minimize fidgeting. A solid meditation bench and back support helped reduce restlessness.
  • Created an altar space with inspiration related to spirituality, nature, loved ones or whatever personal themes promoted focus for him during sessions. This gave a psychological prime to direct ADHD thoughts better once in the space.

Rather than fighting the urge to fidget entirely, James brought focus tools like worry stones or tangle toys to sessions. Occupying restless hands with these while practicing meditation brought his ADHD anxiety down, similar to the calming effect of familiar music, versus completely resisting movement.

How to Optimize the ADHD Meditation Experience

Beyond formal seated meditation, cultivating mindful awareness throughout James’ everyday activities – such as at school or while listening to music – vastly expanded the benefits:

Best Time of Day

Being mindful throughout the day helped James reduce ADHD distractions and emotional reactions. By pausing periodically to notice thoughts, physical sensations, surroundings, or his breath, he was able to return to the present moment, countering inattention. Simple daily remembering, like remembering self-care activities and school assignments, boosted focus.

Optimal Session Length

Yoga and mindful walking served as outlets for James’s ADHD profile to channel excess energy consciously rather than be controlled by it. The present moment physical awareness these exercises fostered became a portable tool for him to then stay calm in chaotic situations that once triggered his hyperactivity.

James has retrained tendencies to inhale food fast by tuning into tastes, textures, and aromas mindfully with slow, calm bites rather than eating absently. With this approach, he has made mealtime a study in wellness, savoring each mouthful for its own purposes. It’s like turning dinner into a bed of sensory information. This shift has allowed him to enjoy meals more while promoting the self-regulation his ADHD had limited, especially in regards to his executive functioning.

Supportive Positions

Beyond basic mindfulness of his breathing, James’ psychologist taught specialized breathwork protocols to relieve ADHD roadblocks at their neurological source. These techniques, often useful for adults and kids alike, root out trouble before it can begin.

Fidget Tools

Inhaling through the nose and exhaling slowly out the mouth shifted James from habitual quick shallow chest breathing stuck in stressful sympathetic nervous system patterns. This stimulated his vagus nerve, promoting calm, a solace sought by many adults and kids struggling with ADHD.

Developing Mindfulness for ADHD

Mindful Meditation for ADHD, man with Orange energy behind him almost like an explosion.

By intentionally alternating breaths between left and right nostrils, James activated the brain’s right and left hemispheres improving coordination for executive function weaknesses like emotional regulation ADHD can cause. This careful study of his breath pattern presented a wealth of information about his mental state.

Noticing Techniques

The simple yet powerful breath anchoring techniques gave James an always accessible tool to manage ADHD symptoms rather than being victimized by them. This portable safety net was key for enduring triggering situations gracefully, both at home and in public.

Mindful Movement

The holistic benefits of meditation on James’s ADHD presentation have been validated by reduced behavioral impairment and less need for medication. These improvements have been attributed to a variety of factors, including a healthier bedtime routine promoting better wellness.

Mindful Eating

From 20-30 minutes, more concentration ability is verified by cognitive testing, according to James’s psychiatrist, which can be attributed to the powerful effects of mindful breathing on the brain’s executive functioning.

Breathwork for ADHD Challenges

James’s meditation journey continues evolving. Just like kids growing into adults, the practice and the benefits from it continue to mature. But the progress his consistent practice has brought so far for formerly crippling ADHD symptoms inspires us both about his potential moving forward.

Patterned Tactics

Like many facing ongoing ADHD impairments, the risk of James’s meditation habit trailing off and backsliding is real. But tactics like setting bedtime reminders, can help instill enduring mindfulness skills.

Alternate Nostril

By involving loved ones, they help reinforce keeping up his practice through encouragement and even participating together at times, making it social. It’s a shared study of the mind, beneficial for kids and adults alike.

James has hourly gentle alerts on his devices to breakaway and devote 2-3 minutes doing quick breath focused mindfulness rather than getting perpetually distracted. Just as kids are reminded to do their homework, adults too need these reminders for wellness.

Improvements in ADHD Symptoms

His meditation cushion and earmarked outfit he only wears to practice signal to his brain that it’s meditation time, no different than how heading to the gym in gym clothes stubs that workout mindset. This attention to detail has significantly impacted his health and overall well-being.

Boosted Attention Span

Summarizing the benefits of mindfulness meditation for improving ADHD symptoms:

Improved attentionMindfulness meditation strengthens ability to control attention, brings wandering mind back to the present moment
Increased focusThickens prefrontal cortex which is involved in focus, planning, impulse control
Enhanced self-regulationTeaches self-observation, emotional awareness to prevent impulsive reactions
Better task completionStrengthens executive functioning for starting and completing tasks
Reduced ADHD symptomsShows improvements in inattentive and hyperactive-impulsive symptoms
Lower anxiety and depressionMindfulness teaches non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and feelings
Increased quality of lifePositive impacts on interpersonal, family, work functioning

Less Impulsiveness

  • 62% decrease in reactive angry outbursts tracked via weekly journaling.
  • 71% drop in excessive uncontrolled spending from baseline impulse monitoring.

Improved Emotion Regulation

  • 58% reduction in overstimulation triggered anxiety attacks since starting meditation.
  • 69% less mood volatility week-to-week charted via daily mood ratings.

Adopting a regular meditation practice with my brother’s severe ADHD has been nothing short of life-changing. The journalling, tracking, and dialoguing together for this article solidified too the massive quality of life boost from simple mindfulness skills for adults and kids alike who struggle with staying on task due to ADHD.

Maintaining an ADHD Meditation Routine

While his ADHD won’t ever be “cured,” the capacity to manage debilitating aspects through meditation inspires so much hope for how those struggling with similar issues can better harness their potential. I’m grateful James’ relationship with mindfulness continues deepening so he can live more presently, embodying wellness in daily life.

Family and Friend Support

While my brother’s journey happened during his growing-up years, the implications of applying mindfulness meditation for adults with ADHD carry some unique facets worth elaborating on. It’s as if mindfulness is an added ingredient, bolstering the overall recipe for health and wellness.

Reminders and Alarm Triggers

As an adult in his 20s now, James still wrestles with core impairments around attention, hyperactivity, and impulsiveness stemming from ADHD. For adults, these struggles continue impacting work, relationships and overall well-being rather than being deemed merely a childhood phase to outgrow.

Establishing Practice Cues

Many people with ADHD, like James, initially flew under the radar undiscovered as children. As adults, this realization can lead to them seeking out new information and therapies, including mindfulness practices, to manage their symptoms more efficiently. Only later in adulthood, when faced with challenging responsibilities, for example, career management, did debilitating symptoms emerge headache first, leading to clinical assessments and life-changing diagnoses. For teens growing into adults, these undiagnosed years often culminate in struggles across several domains.

Calm Blog: Schedule your meditation sessions at a specific time each day, as ADHD minds thrive on structure​​.

From emotional intimacy challenges with partners to underperformance at jobs or businesses, the breadth of damage ADHD symptoms sustained into adulthood for the undiagnosed is massive. To combat this, meditation and similar interventions are key for those identified later in life to getting back on track. It offers something valuable – a means to develop focus and improve mental well-being.

The responsibility matrix for someone like James shifts as an adult for treatments like mindfulness and medication. Now, adding these elements to his life is up to him. Only through self-agency and initiative rather than parental management can the now-grown ADHD person obtain therapies and skills to help them thrive.

Appreciating ADHD as a persistent condition with symptoms exacerbating through adult responsibilities is crucial for sufferers striving for life balance through interventions like mindfulness meditation and other supports. Healing the ADHD brain with self-driven consistency, skill building, and community is fully possible. But the work begins from within—inside each individual’s head.

Unique Considerations for Adults With ADHD

Transcendental meditation, man on a cliff meditating in front of the ocean.

I hope this narrative following my brother James’ journey with meditation for ADHD has illuminated how achievable and profoundly helpful adopting mindfulness practices can be for those challenged by attention and hyperactivity issues, especially for teens who are just beginning to navigate adulthood.

ADHD Symptom Persistence

The science and personal accounts overwhelmingly confirm this non-pharmaceutical treatment path. By learning brain-training techniques for self-awareness, response control, and focus through modalities like breathwork, mantra, and sitting meditation, those with ADHD of all ages can function happier and more effectively. This is an example of how non-conventional approaches can bring significant improvements.

Missed Diagnoses

The work isn’t easy. But with consistency using the most compatible techniques and community support, quality living is absolutely attainable for ADHD brains via mindfulness. This goes to show that there’s something in these practices that speaks to the unique needs of those with ADHD.

Managing Relationships/Work Demands

My brother is proof positive life gets better when you commit to the process. So why not start meditating too? The stillness you find may change everything, adding a sense of calm and focus that you never realized you needed.

Accessing Treatment Differently

Mindful meditation with ADHD can be a challenge, but not impossible. Begin by setting a regular schedule for your meditation practice. Start with brief mindfulness meditation sessions and progressively increase the time. Be patient with yourself and remember that the goal is to achieve a state of calm and focus, not to clear your mind of all thoughts.

Some effective techniques include guided meditation, focusing on your breath, repeating a mantra, and progressive muscle relaxation. Starting a regular yoga practice can also complement meditation and expand your abilities. It may take some trial and error to find the technique that works best for you.

Conclusion on Meditation for ADHD

Mindfulness training helps individuals with ADHD by improving their focus, impulse control, and emotional regulation. It allows the individual to be present and fully engaged in the current moment, reducing the impact of distractions. Moreover, it can complement an adult ADHD program and improve ADHD symptoms.

While mindfulness meditation can certainly help manage symptoms of ADHD, it should not be seen as a replacement for medication, especially for those diagnosed with severe ADHD. It’s best to view mindfulness as a complementary therapy that can be used alongside ADHD medication.

Start by setting aside a specific time each day for your practice, even if it’s just a few minutes. This could be the first step you add to your daily routine towards managing your ADHD symptoms more effectively.

My brother is proof positive, life gets better when you commit to the process. Why not start meditating too? The stillness you find may change everything.

FAQ on People With ADHD

Q: How can I meditate with ADHD?

A: Mindful meditation with ADHD can be a challenge but not impossible. Begin by setting a regular schedule for your meditation practice. Start with brief mindfulness meditation sessions and progressively increase the time. Be patient with yourself and remember that the goal is to achieve a state of calm and focus, not to clear your mind of all thoughts.

Q: What are some effective meditation techniques for ADHD?

A: Some effective techniques include guided meditation, focusing on your breath, repeating a mantra, and progressive muscle relaxation. Starting a regular yoga practice can also complement meditation and expand your abilities. It may take some trial and error to find the technique that works best for you.

Q: How does mindfulness training help people with ADHD?

A: Mindfulness training helps individuals with ADHD by improving their focus, impulse control, and emotional regulation. It allows the individual to be present and fully engaged in the current moment, reducing the impact of distractions. Moreover, it can complement an adult ADHD program and improve ADHD symptoms.

Q: Can mindfulness meditation training replace ADHD medications?

A: While mindfulness meditation can certainly help manage symptoms of ADHD, it should not be seen as a replacement for medication, especially for those diagnosed with severe ADHD. It’s best to view mindfulness as a complementary therapy can be used alongside ADHD medication.

Q: How can I practice mindfulness with adult ADHD?

A: Start by setting aside a specific time each day for your practice, even if it’s just a few minutes. Pay attention to your breath or a particular sensation in your body. When your mind wanders, notice it without judgment and gently bring your focus back. Regular practice can ultimately help you manage your ADHD symptoms.

Q: Can children diagnosed with ADHD also benefit from mindfulness techniques?

A: Yes, mindfulness training for children with ADHD can be beneficial. It helps them to focus their attention, manage their emotions and increase their ability to control impulsive behavior. However, the approaches used may be different from those for adults, and it may require a more playful and interactive practice.

Q: What does the current empirical support say about the effectiveness of mindfulness training for ADHD?

A: Current scientific research supports the use of mindfulness training for managing ADHD symptoms. However, more extensive and robust studies are needed to confirm these findings. The empirical support derived from a pilot trial of mindfulness meditation suggested that it might be a promising intervention for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Q: Are there specific tips for meditating with ADHD?

A: Yes, there are several tips to help people meditate with ADHD: start with short sessions, use guided meditations, make your environment comfortable, meditate at the same time each day, and find a meditation buddy if that helps. Mindfulness meditation may seem challenging at first, but with practice it becomes more accessible and beneficial.

Q: Can meditation help with ADHD as well as medication?

A: Meditation is a non-pharmaceutical intervention that can help manage symptoms of ADHD. While it’s not a replacement for medication, studies have shown it to be an effective therapy when combined with medication in treating both child and adult ADHD. However, any changes to treatment plans should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

Q: Does being consistent in my meditation practice improve my ADHA symptoms?

A: Consistency is indeed key in meditation. Just like how regular physical exercise helps maintain muscle strength, regular mindfulness practice nurtures the mind and helps better manage ADHD symptoms.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Posts