Guided meditation centers the mind to tune into the present. Meditation is not about doing or getting somewhere, meditation is the practice of being mindfully aware in the moment you are experiencing. We live in a world where we have 24/7 access to information, and we are continuously navigating many attentional shifts. Guided meditation provides balance to focus the mind and one’s attention. Through the practice of guided meditation, the mind builds brain pathways dedicated to meditation. This is known as neural plasticity. Research shows that practicing a skill like meditation daily for twenty-five days develops a habit where the mind automatically has a dedicated pathway for the new practiced skill, in this case, for meditation. Guided meditation improves attention, emotional balance, compassion, self-awareness, fear regulation, intuition, body regulation, communication skills, and mental flexibility.
For a person with ADHD, I recommend starting small, beginning with a three-minute breath. The breath is a gateway into the present moment. Connecting to the flow of one’s breath awakens the mind-body connection. Importantly, three diaphragmic breaths recenters the nervous system and helps to calm the body and mind by releasing positive neurochemicals for bonding and trust. Tuning into one’s breath builds greater awareness and focuses one into presence. For a person with ADHD, when beginning a guided meditation practice, be patient with yourself, release judgement, and gently guide the mind to the breath. Showing up is the first step. Remember, the breath is readily available to you.
Another idea for a person with ADHD is an active meditation like a walking meditation, which can begin to help focus the mind where the body is in movement and releasing energy. Sometimes getting the wiggles out is the first step. For example, my son is a teenager, and getting him to sit down and meditate is not in the stars. He is a runner and explains that he uses his time running as a moving meditation to tune into being present. Some people need to be in their bodies to be present. The external environment is highly energizing for a person with ADHD. Thus, having them start small on the breath is key and helping them focus their attention in the present moment can help calm their active mind.
It is important to know an individual’s personal biorhythms when beginning any sort of practice. In particular with meditation, start small and begin to grow there. If you can even allow the child to recognize their breath and they are breathing that is a huge first step. Here is a guide for a three-minute mindful breath:
Three Minute Mindful Breath
Mindfulness can be practiced with the eyes opened or closed, standing, sitting, lying down, or even walking. The three-minute mindful breath is great for calming the nervous system and centering one’s mind.
- Begin by sitting in a comfortable position.
- Breath in for a count of two.
- Exhale for a count of two.
- Breathe in for a count of two.
- Exhale for a count of two.
- Notice how the breath flows in and out of the body.
- Follow your breath from your nostrils, back of your throat, in your chest, notice your chest expand, your ribs grow and expand and follow your breath all the way down your diaphragm.
- Become aware of your body in the present moment.
- Notice how the breath is like the falling and rising waves of an ocean. Some breaths are shallow and calm like ripples in the ocean, while others are deeper that of ocean swell reaching levels of a tidal wave.
- Place the hand on the belly. Feel the breath rise and fall. Allowing the hand to rest on the belly, allows for a direct connection to of the breath. The rapid connection into our body shifts our attention to the current state of the body and the mind.
- Focus your attention on your breath and track where you feel the breath in your body.
- Begin by breathing through the nostrils and visualize your breath moving from your nostrils to the back of your throat, passing your sternum and breathing deep into your diaphragm expanding your intercostal muscles and abdominal muscles expanding at your tummy.
- Follow your breath in the reverse direction from your diaphragm to your sternum, then flowing through your throat and exhaling the breath from the nostrils.
- As you follow your breath, count to three to yourself, hold the breath, and exhale the breath evenly for the count of three.
- Repeat for another three breathes, visualizing and counting the breath.
- Open your awareness to your entire body, become aware of your body, surroundings to here and now.
- Gently blink your eyes open.
- Softly come back as your eyes take in the light.
- You are here now. You have arrived. You are safe.
Know you can return to this mindful breath at any time of your day and place your hand on your belly to ground you.