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Zen And ADHD

Contemplate this …

Within Buddhism there is a sect of Japanese origin known as Zen Buddhism. And while its differences from many other segments of Buddhism are simple differences, those differences make for deep discussion and much admiration.

Significantly, Zen Buddhism asserts that enlightenment can be derived from contemplation and meditation.

But the word “Zen” has been borrowed and, if not corrupted, certainly broadened in its definition. It has come to be used for almost any approach to anything that is simpler and seemingly obvious.

It has also been used to suggest that simpler approaches are better, especially if there is some mystery surrounding how those approaches work.

Uh-oh …

This is potentially bad news for people with ADHD who are seeking help with their problems, the ones that are directly related to their ADHD itself. Trust me, we do not need magicians or snake oil salespeople fobbing off their wares and spells on us under the guise of it being of mystical origin.

What we need is a truly Zen approach to our issues.

But meditation?

Yes, I know. A tricky bit of a thing that. We are notorious for our inability to stay focused within our own minds on anything. How, then, do we meditate?

The answer is in the definition of meditation. Meditation is, “the act of contemplation; reflection.”

And look. No where in that definition does it say that the contemplation need be constant, consistent. It doesn’t even say focused. And it says nothing about that contemplation being unaccompanied by other activity.

ADHD Zen looks like …

If you have ADHD, you are possibly one of the ones who can concentrate and focus on a subject that does not induce hyper-focus, so long as you have some other activity to pursue.

Personally, I find walking to be very helpful. A part of my brain is busy constantly watching the path, making the quick decisions that are needed to keep me on my feet. leaving the rest of my brain supposedly free to consider my subjects without being distracted so much by that part of my brain.

And that works?

Well, I’m not going to lie. It doesn’t work like a switch being turned on or off. But it does make contemplation easier.

At least it does for me. Your activity might not be walking, it may be knitting, or collecting stamps for all I know. It may be wood-working, or bicycling or swimming or running or mountain climbing or …

The point of Zen …

The point is that the Zen of ADHD is to know what helps for you, and what hinders. The Zen part of your ADHD is yours. Your mind is original, unique, and your solution is as original and unique.

So don’t let anyone tell you they have the fix or the cure for you. Listen to what they have to say, consider where their logic fails, take what might be useful and try it on your own. If you can’t try it on your own without giving them money for something they declare that you need, they’re not offering anything valid.

Your ADHD is yours, collection of and your coping mechanisms will be yours as well. Think about that … for a while.

Zen And ADHD

Kelly Babcock

I was born in the city of Toronto in 1959, but moved when I was in my fourth year of life. I was raised and educated in a rural setting, growing up in a manner I like to refer to as free range. I live on the traditional lands of the Chippewas of Nawash in an area where my family history stretches back 6 or 7 generations and my First Nations friend's families go back hundreds of generations. I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 50 and have been both struggling with the new reality and using my discoveries to make my life better. I am a freelance writer and I write two blogs here at Psych Central, one about living with ADHD and one that is a daily positive affirmation that acts as an example of finding the good in as much of my life as I possibly can.

Find out more about me on my website: writeofway.

email me at ADHD Man

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APA Reference
Babcock, K. (2016). Zen And ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 25, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Oct 2016
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