Let’s be honest. It’s hard for the average, “mentally healthy” adult to find the time, energy, and focus to create a consistent meditation practice. Now imagine if you are a child diagnosed with ADHD. Although countless research has shown that mindfulness proves beneficial young adults diagnosed with ADHD that research also indicates that it is nearly impossible for a person diagnosed with ADHD to meditate because they cannot focus their mind enough to attain a meditative state (Brown and Gerbarg 2012). However, there are other options that are just as holistic, healthy, and helpful as meditation. Try a few of these fun and effective techniques with your child today and help set the foundation of focus needed for them to move into a more mindful existence.
Think back to when you were a kid. Standing in front of the mirror, pretending to be a master of the martial arts, you would punch the air and scream HA! Did you know that you were engaging in a focus building activity? Well neither will your child. For thousands of years many traditions have used some form of this breathing technique to increase mental alertness. This activity can be most beneficial to your child right before sitting down to do their homework.
· Stand up straight, bend the elbows, palms pointed upward, and fingers curved into loose fists.
· Inhale deeply through the nose while retracting the elbows behind the back, palms facing upward, hands in fists.
· As you exhale sharply, say the sound “HA!” loudly, extend the arms and throw the hands forward, letting the palms turn downward as though you are flinging water off the tips of your fingers.
· Continue at a brisk pace for fifteen repetitions.
Children in general have a lot of energy. If this energy is not properly released it can build up and become tension in the body. This tension makes it very hard to focus on any task or simply relax. Just think about how hard it is for many of us to loosen up after sitting behind a desk hunched over a computer all day. Cat and Cow are two complimentary yoga poses that kids absolutely enjoy and they help to relieve tension so your child can relax after a long day. Right before bed tonight try this.
· Come on to your hands and knees, spread the fingers wide, and look towards the floor.
· Inhale slowly and deeply, bring the tailbone up towards the sky and allow the belly to drop down towards the ground, and look forward like a cow.
· Exhale, bring the chin to the chest, and arch the back towards the ceiling like a cat.
· Continue at a slow pace for twelve repetitions.
· Make animal sounds for the first six, and then try to focus on the sound of the breath.
How do you get a child to sit still and focus? Turn sitting still into a challenging game that you two can engage in together. Don’t you remember trying to balance a book on your head as a child? At that time you probably were not aware of the fact that, if facilitated correctly, the act of balancing an object could have been a beneficial form of meditation. Simply ask your child to sit with you, and see how long you guys can balance a book, pillow, ball, or pencil on your head. When engaged in these tasks, children inevitably become still and quiet because they innately understand that focus is required to “win the game.” After a few weeks of actual practice, when out in public, you can simply tell them to pretend as if they are balancing a book on their head, and they will immediately become still and quiet.
All children, whether diagnosed with ADHD or not, will have to learn ways of overcoming distraction, restlessness, and impulsivity in order to focus on learning, completing tasks, and understanding social cues. Mindfulness is one of the best tools we have available to build those skills in our children but at the same time we must become more mindful parents; aware of the way we present the material and relate to our children. That is the true focus.
Written by Brentom Jackson, LPC-Intern
In many ways our culture is repressed and fearful. Pain is viewed as something to be avoided at all costs. Some of those costs actually include inducing further pain in attempts to escape an imagined pain. And most of the pain we actually experience is of the imaginary kind.
For example, a woman stays home from attending a party because she is afraid that her ex-boyfriend will be there and she imagines that that would be too embarrassing and awkward to bear. So she ends up saying NO to her imagined pain, and stays home only to incur a whole night of turning possible embarrassing scenarios over and over in her head and obsessively checking her ex’s Facebook timeline for possible updates, which can only make things worse. Feeling isolated and pathetic, she neglects her friends and deprives herself of meeting new people.
The result of avoiding pain in this case seems to lead to even more pain and missed opportunities. So what happens if she were to go to the party and he actually is there? Might it be embarrassing and awkward? Perhaps. But at least now she’s experiencing feelings that are directly related to the event itself, rather than her thoughts about an event that hasn’t happened. In other words, life. When we say no to life, we create additional layers of pain and it can be hard to tell what is real or imagined.
Mindfulness puts us in touch with life as it exists in the present moment. Does that include embarrassment? Oh, yes. But do we have to avoid it? Sometimes this is ok, when it doesn’t incur further pain or doesn’t stop you from living your life. But when avoiding pain, real or imaginary, creates more pain, why would you? Instead, say YES to pain.
Let me explain. What I mean by saying YES, is not the same as agreeing with, approving of, or wanting it. I’m not saying you should convince yourself through positive thinking that pain is preferable; “Mmm . . . I love pain!”--that’s silly. It’s a way of opening up to what is already there, a way of making peace with the present moment. A sober and objective acknowledgement of the thoughts, feelings, and sensations that arise into the moment and pass in their own time. It’s an allowing of what’s there to be there, without adding judgment, aversion, or resistance to the equation.
Try this. Say no to yourself, either out loud or in your head, for 30 seconds. Take note of what you are feeling in your body. Now say yes for 30 seconds. What is that like? Are you not more open, relaxed, accepting, energized? Now think of the kinds of things you often say no to. See what it’s like to say yes to that. And when you feel the natural force of your learning history shouting, “NOOOO!” say yes to that. Say yes to your history, yes to your love handles, yes to rush hour traffic, yes to your late fees, yes to anxiety, yes to cancer, yes to rejection, yes to confusion and uncertainty, yes to your life.
Say yes, because saying no is to suffer unnecessarily.
Written by Jiovann Carrasco, LPC-S
About Our Blog
Here you will find articles contributed by members of our team. We hope to provide helpful information here to inspire mindful living and general wellness. The information provided here is not a substitue for professional mental health advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you need to speak to a professional regarding your mental health, please make an appointment.