Training the ADHD Brain–Meditation

by TGingras

in ADHD adults, brain training, children add, meditation

When I was a boy psychologist first learning about ADHD, I thought meditation, relaxation training and/or hypnosis  should be an effective treatment because it trains the mind to focus.

One of the attempts to define hypnosis even calls it a state of heightened focus. Additionally, my patients were reporting heightened abilities to concentrate after starting one of these programs.

Unfortunately, at that time, there was no scientific research supporting the effectiveness of any of these procedures with ADHD.  Russell Barkley, the well-known researcher, specifically said meditation wsas not effective for ADHD

Well, here we are 20+ years later and we have research support that meditation is effective for reducing ADHD symptoms.

There are several studies available, mostly researching mindfulness meditation. There are even studies utilizing functional MRI to document brain changes–increased thickness and density ( these are good things for your brain indicating increased capacity in the area that’s growing).

Mindfulness meditation is a technique that focuses on increasing awareness of basic sensory information, as in breath mindfully. This technique involves focusing on your breathing and constantly redirecting your attention back to your breathing when it starts to wander.

The technique involves calmly redirecting your attention with the expectation that you will gradually find it easier to stay focused.

There are all sorts of variations on these techniques include the Transcendental Meditation  technique of using a focus word on each exhalation. And most of us have heard of the all-purpose “Om” spoken out loud as an aid to meditation.

Mindfulness meditation has been demonstrated to alter attentional networks, change EEG patterns  and change dopamine (neurotransmitter ) levels.

Practically, meditation is easy to understand, somewhat more difficult to do. Surpisingly, (to me anyway) I have had reasonably good results in my private practice with this technique.

It requires no equipment although some simpler biofeedback equipment, such as the Heartmath  EmWave Personal Stress Reliever may enhance the effect and make compliance easier.

If you decide to use mindfulness meditation you should find a qualified instructor at least initially. It should be someone with specific training in meditation and ADHD such as your basic baby boomer psychologist who was exposed to all the meditation techniques back in the 60s.

Pick somebody with training and credentials. The nice exercise instructor reading a technique out of a book after an exercise class is not a good choice.

Meditation is an  effective technique and needs to be taken seriously. It will be worth it  in the long run.


For more information on ADHD, see Training the ADHD brain–computerized cognitive retraining @

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