Struggling to Meditate

First time poster here. Hi, everybody.

After reading a lot of not-very-helpful articles on WHY meditation & mindfulness can help with adhd I am still finding the practice to be agony.

I am aware of what awareness is. I am aware of how many different kinds of meditation there are. I have tried the apps. I have tried asking multiple therapists multiple times for help. No one seems to understand this but I feel certain that someone (probably more than one person) here will be able to relate and give advice.

Focusing on my breathing gives me anxiety. Anxiety that rapidly increases to panic. Especially when I cannot get my inhales and exhales to sync up with a guided voice. My lungs feel too small, I am overly aware of my lungs and my spine and my bones and muscles and every discomfort. I feel wrong and I over identify with my mortality. Focusing on “the way a part of your body feels against the floor/seat” is much the same. I think of where I am, why, where I need to go, etc. They say “don’t judge yourself” but never tell you how. They say it is alright when your mind shifts and to gently redirect it back. Back to what? Nothingness? Fat chance. The image of a river? The image of a sky with clouds? That doesn’t work. My brain gets frustrated, impatient, frenzied. My To Do list starts coming back to me like a mantra or lines from a play I am trying to memorize. I cannot stop it.

I hate focusing on my body SO MUCH during all of these exercises. Yes, I am aware that I am having a thought. I am aware of my consciousness. That doesn’t bring calm it brings more dysregulation. I am not kidding when I say it makes me violent (throw something across the room/break something)

And I am on medication.

Anyone else relate to this? If so, PLEASE give me your advice. From one brain to another.

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I always think meditation can be done however you want it to be done. There’s no right Or wrong in it. As long as it relaxes you and makes you calmer.

For instance, I’m a dancer and I like to keep up with my flexibility. Therefore I like to stretch. That’s also my meditation moment of the day. I turn on calming piano music and focus on stretching, relaxing and listening to the music. When you stretch, you actually first stretch out and put pressure on your muscles. Afterwards you let it go and the muscle relaxes. I’m someone who has trouble relaxing. This way I’m sure that my muscles relax. If my mind wanders off, it’s okay. If I notice, I’ll just go back to the music. You can’t think about nothing. Especially with ADHD. So don’t be upset when your mind wanders off. It’s totally fine. As long as those thoughts aren’t giving you any anxiety or stress. And even if they do, ignore them. Jessica explained it beautifully once: see the thoughts as clouds. They drift in, you see them, and they drift out again. Let them come, and let them out. Don’t give into them and don’t ignore them either. Same goes for anxiety. If you feel anxiety, don’t give into it. But you also shouldn’t fight it. Just feel the anxiety, and be okay with it. It’ll go away too. It won’t last forever.

I don’t focus on breathing cause that gives me anxiety too. I’m a singer, and through that I learned belly breathing. But I only use it for singing. For that reason I don’t really like yoga. Or else I would’ve done that long ago.

So, there’s no right or wrong in meditation. As long as you can relax from it, it’s good. Just think about that. And if, every single time you start to get anxiety etc when you meditate, maybe your body doesn’t know how to relax, and starts tripping when you try to. I have that too at the very moment. It’s almost as if your body (and brain too) is addicted to it, and it needs to kick off. Accept that your body has trouble relaxing. Let it happen. Try again next time. At one point you’ll feel that you’ll succeed. It’s a process for your body. Same as when someone is a drug addict. They can’t get rid of it at once. Your body has that too. Just think about it.

Just try to figure out in what way you can meditate the best. Then work with that. Don’t feel forced to apply to any specific rules. That’s stupid in my opinion :joy::joy::joy:

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Thank you a lot for your advice, Bubbles.

I feel the need to clarify something that is only becoming clear the more I try to figure out my reply, so this is sort of a follow up question to you or anyone reading:

Does anyone else feel that Mindfulness of Breath & Body just brings TOO much awareness/over awareness that brings intense discomfort and panic? I am struggling with this to such an extent that I am losing hope of finding a solution. Example: In guided meditation or mindfulness body scans if they say, “Start with your feet. With your toes. How do they feel? The pressure of the floor against them, the fabric, etc” IMMEDIATELY makes me squirm and start stimming, whimpering, wringing my hands and moving the part of the body. Trying to be “aware” of my body and breathing makes me feel TOO aware. Like when you zoom into a photo to see it better but you are too zoomed in and only see pixels. I am struck with physical discomfort in the part of the body being “scanned” mentally.

I guess my “ask” is more along the lines of how to overcome this specific problem. The worst is breathing. I think I am struck with psychosomatic asthma as soon as I am told to notice my own breathing. As soon as I “notice” it I cannot naturally do it anymore. I breathe irregularly and cannot find “natural” anymore.

I am told by everyone I know that I am exceptionally self aware and that they are struck by how well I understand myself, my emotions, etc. But that doesn’t make me feel any less anxious. It feels like my ADHD brain just “hyperfocusing” on self problem solving. Maybe this is linked.

At this point I would give anything just to hear that I am not the only person who experiences this violent reaction to Body and Breath Awareness. I just want to feel less isolated by this experience.

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Have you tried tai chi? It’s a form of moving meditation, I think it may help

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You’re not the only one. I have that same thing with breathing. With awareness of your body not so much actually. It does happen sometimes that body awareness makes me tense up. What I usually like to do then is tense up my muscles as much as possible for a few seconds, and then let go and relax them again. And then put your focus on something else.

I’m also someone extremely aware of myself. I don’t meed mindfulness. I already naturally have it :joy::joy::joy:
So I feel you when you say something like that.

I honestly don’t know how to take the anxiety away for yourself in any other way. I’m sorry :grin:

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I can somehow relate. I find meditatation difficult for several reasons. I cannot visualize anything. I find it difficult to focus on different body parts. Where? What? I get distracted and bored. And annoyed because I somehow don’t get what the instuctor talks about. However I find that Yoga works better for me. The movement adds something extra, even though it still is difficult to figure out where my limbs are, and I struggle with even the simplest postures.

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My mega wonderful therapist somehow helped me enormously on this. For years (like, 15 years?) I had been going to yoga and enjoying the stretching part but totally not understanding the breathing bit.

I don’t remember exactly what she said to me that helped, but I finally managed to synch breathing in with doing x and breathing out with doing y. Until after a load of repeats I lost the rhythm, but if I thought about it for a bit I could work it out again and restart OK.

Two things definitely helped.

  1. All that stuff that drives you nuts? That you feel is somehow the wrong way to react? Accept it as somehow apparently necessary, or you wouldn’t be doing it. So, say, you play a meditation video and get all those irritable crampy things going on? My therapist told me that when something like that happens, you just think ‘oh, I’m doing those crampy things again’. Recognise it. That’s all. No bad feelings. No desire to change anything. Just kind of smile at yourself in an ‘I see you’ way. Amazingly, the crampy stuff often subsides after this, but if it doesn’t, that’s fine. You weren’t telling it to go away anyway.

  2. The only breathing exercise I ever understood: count how long you breathe in. Then when you breathe out, try to double the count. Then count your next breath in, and again try to make the out-breath twice as long. There is no right number to get to, it’s up to you how fast you count, and ideally the out breath is longer than the in breath but it might not actually make it to double the number (not without cheating and speeding up the counting anyway :grin:). What tends to happen for me is that I notice that my later breaths are longer than the first ones. But it’s fine if that doesn’t happen.

Basically, meditation is not something you can do to order I don’t think. You can do some basic stuff like learn to breathe deeply, and learn to be kinder to yourself by noticing what’s happening inside your head or body and kind of just ‘waving hello to it’. I think if you can get that far you will already have found a lot more physical peace than you are managing at the moment. If you really can’t manage to get started with these things, maybe you could look into getting some help with this? To be honest, I didn’t learn how to do this on my own either. There was another human being in the room, encouraging me.

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I have a problem with this too.

I’m trying to find a Gong Yoga class after someone suggested it to me. You do some yoga and then meditate to the sound of gongs being played, rung? Then you focus on the sound instead of parts of yourself.

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