Mindfulness – A Powerful Tool for Dealing with ADHD

I’ve written previously about what a positive effect the introduction of mindfulness into my life has been. I recently finished the iBooks version of the The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD: An 8-Step Program for Strengthening Attention, Managing Emotions, and Achieving Your Goals, by Dr.Lidia Zylowska a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in adult psychiatry, mindfulness-based therapy and adult ADHD.

This engaging book is divided into two parts, the first is a primer of sorts on mindfulness, especially as it relates to ADHD.  The second outlines an eight step program in mindfulness, starting with basic tools for “strengthening your ability to move out of autopilot” and leading up to using “core mindfulness skills to observe and manage [the individual’s] thoughts, feelings, and actions.”  I really got a lot out of this book and had a hard time trying to decide exactly which facets of it to focus on in this short review, so instead, I am choosing to share the three things I most appreciated about it:

  •  Dr. Zylowska really gets adult ADHD.  This is not only evident through what she writes, but how she writes it.  She put a lot of thought and effort into designing a book that appeals to her intended audience, using what I call the “DK book” approach, which breaks up the text into digestible bits more easily tackled by an ADHD reader.  She specifically intersperses the following into her text: bullet point lists, Q & A sections, personal experiences, patient stories, and current research excerpts.  Dr. Zylowska’s seven page introduction titled “Dear Reader – Do Something Different This Time” provides an excellent introduction to this book and shouldn’t be skipped (yes, she even understands how unlikely it is for someone with ADHD to actually read an introduction.)
  • Dr. Zylowska does an amazing job of explaining mindfulness. I’ve done previous training the area of mindfulness and her explanations are as clear or clearer than any I’ve encountered elsewhere.  Mindfulness is a new topic for many and the thought of mindfulness is completely foreign to so many of us with ADHD.  Dr.  Zylowska however endeavors to and succeeds in explaining mindfulness in ways that make it accessible/relatable to almost any reader.  Another way in which she succeeds is by including links to actual short guided meditations that can be accessed at the book’s website.  There is no better way to learn mindfulness than to experience it and these easy to access online recordings make that possible.
  • Finally, Dr. Zylowska included numerous references to peer reviewed studies on mindfulness throughout the book.  Mindfulness is still considered an “alternative” treatment to ADHD by many at this point in time.  Her references to these studies though definitely help to legitimize it.  In addition to mentioning the studies, she also included active links to her website and others. I read this book on my iPad via iBooks and greatly appreciated being able to click through the links as I read.

The only warning I have for those wanting to read this book is to give yourself the space and time to read and absorb it.  Though you could skim through this book in a day or so, doing so would not allow you to reap its benefits.   To appreciate, experiment with and follow along with the exercises will take time and effort on the part of the reader, especially if this is one’s first exposure to mindfulness.  Dr. Zylowska in fact suggests taking a week or two with each of the chapters in Part Two, which seems like a reasonable estimate.

This is a book that I see myself turning to again and again because there is so much great information to digest and so many reminders for healthier living with ADHD through mindfulness.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on mindfulness as it relates to ADHD or this book, if you have read it.

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7 Responses to “Mindfulness – A Powerful Tool for Dealing with ADHD”

  1. Ellen Delap February 12, 2013 12:40 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this resource Andrea!

  2. Denise Lee February 13, 2013 2:41 pm #

    Thank you Andrea. I was looking for a resource on mindfulness, and lo and behold you provided it!

    • Andrea Sharb February 14, 2013 3:36 am #

      Denise, so glad I could help! I’d love to hear what you think about it.

  3. Karen JK February 22, 2013 4:25 am #

    I agree with this premise whole-heartedly! I have found mindfulness meditation to be extremely helpful to my ADHD. Although it is admittedly hard to sit still, especially if you are all by yourself, meditating with a group can be a good way to start. I have been practicing with a group in Lakewood and I find the access to teachers and peer support to be a huge help, especially the face-to-face guidance. In a way, meditating with a group provides the kind of motivation and support that “body-doubling” provides when we are working on boring tasks (which you’ve mentioned elsewhere in your blog.)

    When I can keep up a meditating habit, over time, I find my thoughts during the work day aren’t quite as densely crowded, I feel a little more open and grounded, and sometimes I even feel less rushed and more clear about what I need to do next. Definitely worth exploring.

    • Andrea Sharb February 22, 2013 12:18 pm #

      Thanks for you for your hearty endorsement for mindfulness meditation. I especially appreciate your saying” I find my thoughts during the work day aren’t quite as densely crowded, I feel a little more open and grounded, and sometimes I even feel less rushed and more clear about what I need to do next.” I know exactly what you mean. You mention “when I can keep up a meditating habit” (life and our ADHD can certainly get in the way of creating and maintaining habits!): It sounds though like you’re on your way to habit development by practicing with the group in Lakewood. Nice Job!

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