Today most people have either dealt with or at least heard about ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Now there are variations of this disorder including AD/HD and ADD but basically the key behavioral signs in children are inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Adults with ADHD often exhibit signs of depression, mood swings, anger and relationship issues, poor time management skills, and procrastination. The severity of these symptoms can vary and there are many adults who are not aware that they are mildly afflicted with this disorder. Research indicates that it is caused by a genetic chemical imbalance in the brain and therefore can be inherited although there are some who believe that factors like food additives contribute to the disorder. Most do agree though that triggers such as stress, anxiety and diet can intensify the symptoms.
As a therapist in Los Angeles I have worked with many patients with ADHD, especially in the entertainment industry. When I recommend they consider starting a mindfulness meditation practice, usually the first objection I hear is, “Oh, I could never mediate I’m too restless to be able to sit still long enough. Besides it could stifle my creativity and dull my mind.” I assure them that on the contrary, mindfulness meditation has proven to be a very effective tool in dealing with this disorder and takes less time than they think.
Mindfulness helps create the capacity to not only calm and sooth but increases the ability to focus. It offers two important benefits that help reduce restlessness. One is heightened concentration, allowing patients to be more productive. Another is physiological changes, namely, a decrease in skin temperature and increase in oxygenation of the brain, a decrease in lactic acid (which causes fatigue) and cortisol (a stress hormone). With less fatigue and stress, patients become less distracted and more efficient in using and managing their time. Through mindfulness they also feel less anxiety and stress and instead experience more ‘one-pointedness of mind.’ In Zen this means being in a state of complete focus or heightened concentration and totally aware of the present moment. The more frequent someone practices mindfulness the more they enter the zone of single minded focus and become less plagued by the monkey mind.
Mindfulness practice seems to ground restless people, transforming their energy from a chaotic, even manic discharge to a more focused and heightened exuberance that then can be channeled into productivity. In addition to meditation, there are other techniques that people with ADHD can do to help them manage their symptoms such as regular exercise especially yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi; a diet that is low in stimulating foods like sugar, processed foods, alcohol and coffee; creating lists to help keep them focused; not giving themselves too many choices and listening when other people are talking thus avoiding speaking too quickly.
Ronald Alexander Ph.D., a psychotherapist, leadership coach and international trainer is the author of the widely acclaimed book Wise Mind, Open Mind: Finding Purpose and Meaning in Times of Crisis, Loss and Change thatprovides practical and innovative applications to help one through today’s challenging times. He is the Executive Director of the OpenMind Training Institute, a leading edge organization that offers personal and professional training programs in mind-body therapies, transformational leadership, and mindfulness. Through his unique techniques of combining the ancient wisdom of mindfulness with positive psychology and creative thinking Ronald Alexander has helped hundreds learn how to open their mind and heart to transform any challenge and ignite their inner passions. For more inspiration visit www.ronaldalexander.com.