Meditating with ADHD can feel like an Olympic Sport. The ability to clear your mind when your mind is racing can help you to improve cognitive function, reduce stress, and improve focus and memory. However, if you have ADHD it can be hard to hone in on these benefits as you combat racing thoughts, hyper-focus, and an occasionally fidgety body.
The benefits of Meditation for ADHD far outweigh the struggles. So, although creating a meditation routine has been difficult for me, it’s been quite beneficial. I enjoy being able to quiet my mind. Just 5 minutes is all it takes, so meditation has become a regular part of my self-care routine.
Health Disclaimer: The information and other content provided in this blog, website, or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a professional. All opinions are based solely on my personal experiences with ADHD.
How Meditation Helps Ease Symptoms of ADHD
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a set of techniques that allow the mind and body to relax and develop a heightened sense of awareness and focus. The ADHD brain is often struggling with focus whether that’s a lack of it or in some cases intense hyperfocus. So learning how to use meditation to tune into your mind and body can help you to achieve better focus in other areas of your life.
Why does meditation help ADHD?
The brain is a muscle, and any muscle can be strengthened. According to WebMD meditation is helpful for ADHD because it helps develop your prefrontal cortex in your brain. The prefrontal cortex helps with focus, planning, and impulse control. Meditation also increases our levels of dopamine which can help alleviate symptoms of ADHD.
Meditating can help to:
- reduce stress
- boost your self-esteem
- increase lung capacity
- improve sleep
How to Meditate-
- Find a Quiet Space
- Get into a comfortable position
- Relax your body
- Focus on your breath
- PRO TIP: don’t focus so much on clearing your mind but rather focus on your breathing and being present in the moment. As thoughts come up be mindful of them and then let them float away.
Four Ways of Meditating with ADHD
1. Guided Meditation
Guided meditation is exactly what it sounds like! Someone guides you along the meditation journey. You can do this in person or online. Guided meditation usually includes an introduction to the meditation methodology, breath work, positive guided practice, and can include ambient music. I love to use YouTube to find Guided Meditations.
Great Guided Meditations for ADHD
- ADHD Mindfulness Meditation (Guided) – 30-Day Transformation
- Guided Meditation for ADHD
- Mental Reset in 5 Minutes – Guided Mindfulness Meditation – Calm Anxiety and Stress
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2. Sound Meditation with Synctuition
Similar to guided meditation is Sound Meditation. Using calming ambient tones to trigger brainwaves and reduce stress can be very beneficial to reducing stress and improving focus.
My favorite tool for Sound Meditation is Synctuition. It’s a mix of a guided and sound meditation that takes you on a deeply restorative journey into yourself. This 3D Sound experience is best when listened to through high-quality headphones. Each 20-minute session is proven to be as restorative as 4 hours of sleep.
Synctuition works for me because each session provides deep interesting levels of sound. I don’t get bored when I listen to it and when I do find my mind wandering a new sound pops up in the background that catches my attention and pulls me back in. This makes it the perfect way to meditate with ADHD.
Get you free trial of Synctuition here.
3. Moving Meditation with ADHD
Moving meditation is a fun way to put yourself at ease while paying attention to the world around you. This is a very mindful type of meditation and requires us to focus on our bodies and how they interact with the natural world on the go. This is a particularly useful type of meditation for neurodivergent individuals who have a lot of energy and need to move while working.
How to Practice Moving Meditation for ADHD-
- Head outside (or to a large indoor space such as a gym, church, or long hallway.)
- Start by taking deep, slow breaths focusing on a controlled slow exhale
- As you feel yourself relax begin to walk slowly. Pay attention to your feet on the ground. How do your feet feel? What does the ground feel like as you begin your moving meditation?
- Maintain your controlled breathing. As outside thoughts pop up return your focus to your feet on the ground.
This type of moving meditation is specifically called walking meditation. It’s great for ADHD brains because we can often have energy that we’re unsure how or where to focus. So, going on a walk with the intention of meditating can help to channel excess energy. Also, walking meditation can be done anywhere at any time which is great for those impulsive ADHD moments.
4. Focused Breath Work for Meditating with ADHD
Focused Breath Work is a type of meditation that focuses on breathing patterns. Many require you to breathe in for a certain number of seconds and then release your breath at a slower pace for a certain number of seconds. Some breath work requires a pause in between inhales and exhales. Some breath work requires pauses in both places.
Breath Work for ADHD
Each type of Breath Work is Unique Here are a few I’ve tried and enjoyed-
Box Breathing for ADHD
Box Breathing is great for focusing your brain. It requires you to count each breath and allows you to be fully present as you work to maintain the box breath.
- Inhale for 4 seconds
- Pause for 4 seconds (no inhale or exhale)
- Exhale for 4 seconds
- Pause for 4 seconds
- REPEAT for at least 5 breaths.
One of the best parts about box breathing for ADHD is that it can be done in as little as 2 minutes. As soon as you feel your body return to a calm and relaxed state you can choose to end your breathwork or continue on for 5 or more minutes if you have time. This meditation can be done standing up, sitting down, in the car, etc.
Lion’s Breath is one of the funniest breathing exercises you’ll ever do! Which makes it pretty fun. Lion’s Breath is a breathing exercise that deeply engages the lungs, face, and neck muscles. This exercise releases both mental and physical tension (mainly in your face, jaw, and neck.)
Lion’s Breath Exercise
- Lion’s breath is best done sitting down. Either on the floor or in a chair. Lean forward slightly and place your hands on your knees.
- Inhale through your nose.
- Open your mouth, stick your tongue out, and bend your tongue down toward your chin.
- Exhale with power, while making a gentle “ha” sound.
- Repeat this process for about 10 breaths.
- Then switch to regular deep breathing for a few minutes before ending the exercise.
As I said, this is kind of a silly one, but it works really well to help you destress. It can be done in just a few minutes anywhere you can sit down for a few minutes. I do definitely recommend saving this one for the privacy of your own home but to each their own!
This method of breathwork is fairly common when it comes to breathing exercises. It forces you to take deep counted breaths with a pause between the inhale and exhale. This helps your body achieve a deep state of relaxation. It can be done in nearly any position sitting, standing, or laying down.
- With an open mouth exhale forcefully enough to make a sighing sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale for a count of four through your nose.
- Pause and hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Open your mouth and exhale forcefully in a controlled manner (again making a sighing sound) for a count of 8.
- Repeat these steps for about 10 breaths, or until you feel relaxed and controlled. Then resume your regular breathing pattern.
I particularly love the 4-7-8 breathwork for nighttime. It does wonders for my sleep routine, which can sometimes be unreliable due to ADHD. This helps to ease nighttime anxiety, help you fall asleep faster, and sleep deeper! Can I get a heck yes!?
Props and Tools to help when Meditating with ADHD
Much like yoga, meditation can be greatly enhanced with a few props. Using tools to help you block out outside noise and light, in particular, can help you to get into a meditative state. Using aromatherapy can also help you to achieve a deeper state of relaxation.
Props and Tools for Meditating
- Blind Fold– To remove visual stimuli and reduce light pollution a blindfold or eye shade can be super helpful when helping you tune into your breath and body.
- Earplugs or Noise Cancelling Headphones– Remove outside sounds to help you focus inward with little distraction. The noise-canceling headphones are also handy for guided and sound meditations like Synctuition.
- Weighted blanket- If moving and fidgeting make meditation hard try using a weighted blanket. The additional weight can help to reduce stress and quiet your mind. This is particularly useful when doing a lying or sitting meditation.
- A yoga ball, hammock, or swing– Sometimes sitting still while meditating is harder. Add ADHD into the mix and that increases tenfold. Using a yoga ball, hammock chair, or swing as a place to meditate can allow your body to move naturally as you focus inward on your breath. This takes away the stress of trying to sit perfectly still and can help you to relax more quickly.
- A timer– People with ADHD struggle with time blindness and this can lead to stress and anxious thoughts regarding meditation. What happens if I mediate for too long? How long has it been? How much longer do I need to do this? Are all common thoughts for ADHD’ers as they meditate so having a timer set can be very helpful for meditation. Giving yourself a concrete ending time to your meditation can help you develop your meditation practice over time. Starting with just 5 minutes of meditating for ADHD has proven to be beneficial to resetting the mind and reducing stress.
- Aromatherapy for ADHD- Your sense of smell can be a very powerful tool. If you find that you’re having trouble reaching a state of relaxation try aromatherapy. I use a Lavender Essential Oil Roller before I meditate to help calm my nervous system. You could also use a room or linen spray, diffuser, candle, body spray, or incense.
Meditating with ADHD
Developing a meditation practice can take a while. Regular meditation practice can truly help you develop a more well-balanced lifestyle. Starting with just a few minutes is a great way to proceed forward. Meditating with ADHD requires flexibility and finding the type of meditation that works best for your mind and body will help you to maintain a routine. So, try a few before you give up! They’re all a little different.
Have you tried meditation? What benefits have you noticed since beginning your meditation practice?