Aug. 18, 2022 – It’s about being human and in this moment — no matter how distracted this moment is. There is no such thing as being good or bad at meditation. ‌That’s just not the point‌. Every time you get distracted, you start again, so noticing the distraction is actually proof of success, says Jeff Warren, a meditation teacher who has A.D.H.D. and is a co-author of “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics.” 

Another tool for fighting back against mid-meditation feelings of failure is something experts call “loving kindness meditation,” which can help you forgive yourself when your mind wanders. It involves offering words of encouragement and kindness to yourself and others as you meditate. “May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be free of suffering — those are kind of the classic meditation phrases,” said Dr. Lidia Zylowska, an associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and one of the first to study how meditation can benefit those with A.D.H.D.

You can also practice this kind of meditation simply by offering yourself compassion and kindness when you feel your attention starting to drift. When you catch yourself trying to remember the names of all five Spice Girls instead of meditating, feel pride and love for a brain that just wants to think about ’90s pop groups. This can develop a more supportive and kinder attitude toward your distractible mind in day-to-day life.

You need not meditate to be mindful.

Mindfulness and meditation are related, but not the same, Dr. Mitchell said. Mindfulness is the practice of being attentive and aware in any given moment. It’s noticing when your brain starts replaying the obtuse thing you said in a work meeting while you’re supposed to be paying attention to your spouse recounting his day — and then bringing your attention back to listening. Mindful meditation is taking a set period of time to actively focus on being present — often by focusing on your breath.

Dr. Zylowska frequently starts her patients out with mindfulness exercises that they can do without setting aside any additional time in their day. For example, you can brush your teeth mindfully by spending those two minutes noticing the taste of the toothpaste, the sensation of the brush on your gums or the brightness of the light in your bathroom. Since you’re (hopefully) already in the habit of brushing your teeth, you’re more likely to do the exercise.

Mindfulness exercises are also, generally, very short — which is especially helpful for the chronically distracted. One beginner exercise Dr. Zylowska recommended takes just two seconds. Every time your phone rings during the day (or you get a text or work notification), take a breath before answering. That breath will give you a moment to check in with your breathing and find a sense of calm before launching into a conversation.


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