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Ah… for the next moment, allow yourself to be a human being rather than a human doing. Do nothing. Just be. Ah…
Mindfulness is for anyone with a busy mind. AKA: everybody. The busier your head, the bigger the difference mindfulness can make in your life.
Many people with ADHD receive drugs/ medication in order to better stay in the Rat Race: the system that we ADHD-bees – are coping with a little less efficiently than non-ADHD people are. I refuse to say normal and other people. ADHD or not, you are just as sane as I am (hi, Harry Potter fans!). With more creativity and more chaos. With a busier mind and a slightly less busy agenda since you may or may not forget appointments sometimes.
Where was I. Ah, drugs. I have been on medications for a while myself. But it didn’t feel right. As if I was not good enough. Apparently I couldn’t succeed at my goals without medication.
Right from the start, I told myself: “If I need this, it’s only to get through my education. I will not take this… stuff for the rest of my life.”
It did help me get through a certain period, and I am grateful for it. But if I need drugs in order to succeed at something, for me that means that goal does not lie within my own capacities, and therefore it is something I do not want to be capable of. Let me break that down.
The right goal
If you want to reach a goal, you probably try your hardest and give it your all. But if that is still not enough, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate either the method or the goal. I think living by that is a strength. It shows that you adapt to both your failures and successes and will make you actively pursue your talents and passions instead of getting completely stuck in a goal that might not fit you as much as you thought.
Going for something that does not make you happy merely for the goal getting does not make you happy, believe me. Maybe you are proud to reach that goal, but if you hated the process, how much do you think you will love applying that process later in life? If you are always pushing your limits, it can cost a lot of energy. There should be a balance, between those things.
I scoured the internet and local library for books and articles, forums and medical resources about ADHD: the best medication, ADHD and studying, ADHD on the work floor, in relationships, the pros of ADHD. And then I read about natural ways to cope with ADHD itself. Being a student, I did not have the money to import Indian tea leaves or natural Canadian LTO3 pills. Again, no pills, thank you. But I wanted to focus Right Now (something about ADHD and being impulsive…). I wanted an effective, inexpensive solution with quick results. I know. Sounds impossible. I like impossible.
One day, probably when having another minor study-related panic attack, someone asked me: “have you ever heard of Mindfulness?” Well yeah, I had, but I was rather skeptical. After all, how was I supposed to focus on one thing? As Mrs. ADHD, my mind is trained to be all over the place, at any given time of day.
I give you an example. I remember riding my bike with my boyfriend once. He looked very peaceful and happy, and I asked him: “what are you thinking of?” and he just answered: “about nothing”. Just hearing that, I was having at least four thoughts simultaneously. 1: ‘How is this possible?’. 2: ‘I am so jealous’. Nr 3 and 4 may have been something like: ‘hey, look, two birds flying exactly above me. Hope they didn’t just poop.’ and ‘I should really fix this squeaky noise of my handlebar’. I forgot the other thoughts. Anyway. The nothing box. I wish I had one.
Mindfulness sounded impossible yet interesting.
I took a mindfulness class, where we did mindfulness exercises and meditation. I really liked meditation. Simply put, it’s a breathing exercise. Nothing more. It goes something like this: you sit down. With guided meditation, you hear someone give directions, like: “…inhale deeply, calmly. Exhale. Close your eyes. Inhale, exhale…” You definitely get distracted. Then you hear another instruction, or you just realize: “Oh right, focus.” Breathe in…
Getting distracted happens a million times per minute, even with advanced practitioners. It is part of the very exercise. But something strange happened to me as well. I started to relax more and more, and each meeting after closing my eyes it got easier to let thoughts just BE. I stopped being irritated by every itch, either just by scratching it or by investigating it only to discover it actually passed, just like all the thoughts I had.
Even more importantly, outside of the meetings, within weeks I felt different. I appreciated everything more, without thinking about the next line of my to-do list. And I felt not as controlled by the voice in my head or by my emotions.
I remember having a volleyball match right after a mindfulness meeting, and it was like I was on drugs. The match went by in a haze. When we lost a point, instead of thinking many swear words and the implication of a possibly lost match, I just thought: oh no! And I picked up the ball and focused on my service. I played better than usual. I did not even realize until then how much I was letting the situation and my emotions decide on my happiness level!
This was the strongest event around meditation and mindfulness I’ve had so far, and other hallelujah experiences can be counted on one hand. Usually, I get as distracted as I did on day 1. But I just continue and my daily happiness has improved so much!
Now I do not suddenly study endlessly. Or take good care of the household and everything. It’s called mindfulness, not magic. There are times I am not mindful and forego my meditation, but when I do these things I feel happier, relaxed and more focused. I get stuff done.
The best way for you to experience these benefits is to try it out for yourself. What (other) tricks do you have for better focus or relaxation? Let me know in the comments!