This post is dedicated to everyone who lives with ADD/ADHD or loves someone with ADD/ADHD.
In our minds we have three states of time. Past, present, and future. We can only do anything in one of them. It is only the present moment in which we can physically act. Before you read on take a moment and let that sink in. The only time you can act is in this present moment. You can’t take action in the past, and you can’t take literal action in the future. It is only right now that you can do anything. If you didn’t stop and think that through please do so now. It is the foundation for what follows.
Our thoughts are constantly either recreating events of the past, or trying to paint the future. Unless you are under immediate physical attack the only emotional pain you suffer are those memories of the past or thoughts of the future. Your thoughts about the future and the past dictate what you do in the present moment. That statement was not meant to de-legitimize anyone’s pain or emotional state. Therapists and Life Coaches spend much of their time with clients, listening closely to their thoughts about what is going on in their lives or how they might achieve their goals. Their potential to help their client begins when they detect unhealthy thought patterns, or those thoughts that don’t align with the client’s goals.
For the sake of improving your life, what if you were to begin to live your life more fully in the present moment? Do what I am about the suggest the next available time after reading this post, or right now if you are in a quiet place and won’t get interrupted. Wherever you are sit quietly, close your eyes if you want, and pay attention to the subtle noises in the background. You can also focus on your breathing instead, or notice the subtle feelings in your body. Notice the feeling of your body against the furniture. When a thought comes to mind, don’t judge it or react to it just notice it. Then take your focus back to the sounds in your environment, your breath, or the subtle feelings in your body. Do this for at least five minutes and no more the twenty minutes.
When I was first starting with Mindfulness I did this for twenty minutes a couple of times per day. Over a period of a month or so I started to notice that I was calmer overall. I also started to notice that I could better control my impulsivity. I remember the first time I noticed this. Someone had said something that would have normally triggered me to respond and start an argument. I was able to let the comment pass, without incident. If you have ADD, you know how that incident would have likely ended, if I hadn’t created that space that allowed me not to react to the comment. I also noticed something else. I didn’t feel any ill will towards the person who made the comment. It was as they say like water of a ducks back.
If you honestly participated in that exercise, and had a positive experience I want to issue a “temporary” warning. I once heard a popular success guru tell an audience about his meditation practice, and then right after he warned them that if all you ever do is bliss out on meditation, they will eventually come and take your furniture. I call this a temporary warning because Mindfulness is not just about meditating. Once you are able to stop the racing thoughts in your mind you will realize that being mindful can be done throughout the normal course of life.
Here are a few ways you can practice Mindfulness throughout your day. Let’s say you want to get into the habit of making your bed every morning. Tomorrow morning you can get up, and Mindfully make your bed. Take a deep breath and deliberately make your bed, noticing the feel of the fabric in the pillows, or how the wrinkles flatten out when stretching the sheet. Overall just pay attention to the process. Another way I practice Mindfulness is when I am writing an email or message to someone. I will notice myself deliberately touching each key. Whatever you do throughout your day for work or home just pick a few things to do deliberately noticing the details.
The real goal of Mindfulness is to quiet all those thoughts that normally keep you out of a state of being attentive. Have you ever wondered why no matter how hard you try, you just haven’t been able to change certain behaviors. It is likely because you never noticed the thoughts that were causing them. When you learn to observe your thoughts without passing judgement, you will become conscious of them. When you are conscious of your thoughts, it shines a light on them that makes their impact diminish. The bible tells us to “guard the door of our minds.” The only way you can guard against the thoughts is to become aware of them, let them be and they will dissipate. If you have questions or comments drop me a note here or comment below.