My Fellow Distractoids,

Are you scattered, overwhelmed, prone to losing things, forgetful, frequently late, and impulsive? Are the voices in your head a confusing jumble of intrusive thoughts that drive you nuts?

Distractoids are plagued by by all of these ADHD symptoms. They sometimes feel like they are going to have a mental meltdown or their head is going to explode.

Masters of Distraction, on the other hand, enjoy a calmer, more peaceful existence. They’ve learned to modulate their impulsive thoughts and emotions by cultivating mindfulness in their daily lives.

But what does being mindful really mean, and how does it relate to ADHD?

Some people find the idea of mindfulness a little daunting, as if it’s only for spiritual masters to practice. Don’t be intimidated. You don’t have to be an ascetic camped in the wilderness to live mindfully. In fact, it’s pretty simple.

Mindfulness is being aware of your own consciousness, observing your thoughts, mental images, and feelings in a neutral, non-judgmental way. It’s paying attention to what your mind is paying attention to. When you pay attention to your mind, you are being mindful.

So what’s the difference between you and your mind? That’s the crucial insight of mindfulness. If you stop and pay attention to your mind, you will see that your mind produces an endless stream of thoughts and images that seem to never end. The thoughts come in the form of words and images that are like mental movies.

But you — and I mean the essence of you — are not your thoughts. You are the Consciousness that is witnessing and observing what the mind produces — all those thoughts that come and go.

Practice what it feels like to “watch” your thoughts objectively and without judgment. Let them come and go and simply observe. If you have the intention of letting the stream of thoughts go quiet, you are practicing a form of mindful meditation.

You might also let your consciousness be aware of the sensations of your body. The physical sensations and emotions. The inner “space” of the body. What does your consciousness detect: pleasure, restlessness, anxiety, calm, etc.? Mindfully taking an inventory of the “space” in your body is another kind of meditation.

Being “lost in our thoughts” or daydreaming mental movies is being distracted and lacking conscious awareness. Being identified with the content of our thoughts, in other words thinking that you are the voice in your head, is to lack conscious awareness. It is to be unconscious.

So mindfulness is awakening to our consciousness. Awakening to who we really are. Not the voice in our head, but the awareness that observes the mind — sometimes called the Self or the Higher Self.

So what’s the point of mindfulness? We will be looking at the many benefits of mindfulness in the next topics. For now, let’s say that one benefit of mindfulness is improving the ability to pause — to stop and consciously think what we are doing. Improving our ability to stop long enough to self-regulate. That matters when you consider that all the symptoms of ADHD — impulsive actions, not being able to focus or hyper-focusing attention on unimportant things, and moving our bodies in a non-controlled way — are deficits in self-regulation.

On an even more basic level, being mindful tunes us into who we really are and how we happen to be feeling. With an awakened consciousness, we will make — I hope! — more enlightened choices on things big and small. We will exercise our free will in making decisions, instead of ADHD deciding for us.

-Coach Drew