Do you remember what it was like to be a kid on a warm spring day when your homework and chores were done and you were free to play? You didn't have a care in the world and you weren't preoccupied with anything in particular. There was a sense of freedom and enthusiasm for whatever came next. For most adults that feeing is a distant memory. As adults, we are caught up in activities and obligations and life becomes stressful.
Struggles related to ADHD magnify the stress with forgetfulness, procrastination, and distractibility often impacting everything from getting out the door on time in the morning to getting to bed before 2 AM. In between, homework has to be completed, meals prepared, laundry folded, bills paid, all in addition to going to working and caring for our families. With so many demands and tasks that need to be completed, how could we have time to experience the freedom and spontaneity of childhood or even a belly laugh? The steps are simple and attainable. However, commitment and practice are necessary.
Step 1: Be aware of your state of mind as much as possible. This isn't the power of positive thinking but rather is a shift in awareness to our feeling state. We have a built in thermometer or way to measure our feeling state, which is how we are feeling in each moment. Specifically, are you feeling light hearted and alert or are you feeling a sense of heaviness?
Step 2: Become an observer of your thinking. Pay close attention to your inner world and your thinking, as if you were outside of yourself sitting on your shoulder. Watch to see how much of your day is spent being caught up in your thoughts. Are you busy thinking about the future, which often feeds anxiety, or are you caught up thinking about the past, which fuels depression and guilt? Do you spend your thinking world constantly analyzing and assessing situations?
Step 3: Stop habitual thinking, begin to use your mind more effectively. As you begin to observe your thinking, your awareness of the present moment increases. We begin to take responsibility for our internal world, rather than assume we have no control over it. You have a choice moment to moment and can shift awareness to the present moment instantly. Although simple, this requires practice. When our communication with others is caught up in thinking, the feeling is burdensome and heavy.
Our mind is like a toolbox. Most people with ADHD rely on their thinking as if it were the best tool in the toolbox. Also, in our toolbox however is our innate health, wisdom, and common sense. Unfortunately, when we are preoccupied or caught up in our thinking, we have less access to our wisdom and insights are limited. In contrast, as our thinking becomes relaxed we have enormous resources to handle stress and difficult situations. This is why many people describe solving a difficult problem while in the shower, when they weren't thinking about it. Or consider the ease in which people with ADHD control their thinking when in highly stimulating situations, such as rock climbing or race car driving.
As we practice these steps and increase our awareness that each new thought or idea does not necessarily require attention or a reaction but like a cloud in the sky can simply pass by, again, and again, the result is increased focus to the moment at hand. As we increase our awareness to the now or the present moment, the urge to get to next moment or the next thought decreases and a deeper feeling of understanding, calm, and inner peace emerge. The ADHD mind becomes quieter and insightful, allowing for increased playfulness, creativity, joy, as well as deeper, more meaningful relationships.
What is Mindfulness?