Updated: Oct 8, 2022
"Any change and growth starts with awareness." -Lidia Zylowska, MD
Lidia Zylowska, MD is a board-certified psychiatrist who specializes in mindfulness-based approaches to mental health. This 8-step program was developed at UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center, it uses Mindfulness Awareness Practices (MAPs) to strengthen attention, balance emotions, and manage life with ADHD. She recommends one to two weeks of exploring the exercises described in each step before moving on to the next one.
Before you say "NOPE! I can't, my ADHD wouldn't let me (insert here what you think mindfulness should look like)", I want you to have in mind that you don't need to be still, you don't need an 'empty mind', and you don't need to do it for long periods at a time. This is about directing and redirecting your attention, recognizing where your attention is directed towards, and bringing it back to the present moment. It is about being intentional about our attention; as well as noticing and accepting when our attention's leash is cut loose and now we are running after it!
Historically, ADHD has been conceptualized as a "deficit" of attention. In my perspective, it is inaccurate to say that we "lack" attention. Rather, our attention is either scattered, easily changes direction (for better or worse), or becomes hyperfocused to the point we neglect basic needs- like eating and drinking water-, that we should have left 30 minutes ago for an appointment, or we find ourselves down the Google rabbit hole searching for information of our topic of the moment and/or doom-scrolling on social media when we should have fallen asleep 2 hours ago.
The Mindfulness Prescription for Adult ADHD presents learning to pause and shift your attention to the present moment as an antidote for being scattered. This is a training program for your 'attentional muscles'. Attention is the focus of energy through the nervous system and it affects how neurons fire and connect, and vice-versa (how your system is wired and its patterns of activation influence how you focus your attention). Using these tools and techniques to manage your ADHD helps you activate and strengthen the executive circuits of the brain responsible for processes such as attention, emotion regulation, responses, insightfulness, and empathy.
Overview of the Steps
Step 1. Become More Present: Attention and the Five Senses
Step 2. Focus the Wandering Mind: Mindful Breathing
Step 3. Direct and Anchor Your Awareness: Mindfulness of Sound, Breath, and Body
Step 4. Listen to Your Body: Mindfulness of Body Sensations and Movement
Step 5. Observe Your Mind: Mindfulness of Thoughts
Step 6. Manage Your Emotions: Mindfulness of Feelings
Step 7. Communicate Skillfully: Mindful Listening and Speaking
Step 8. Slow Down to Be More Effective: Mindful Decisions and Actions
An audio program, available as a free download at www.shambhala.com/MindfulnessPrescription, provides guided meditation instruction for selected exercises in the eight-step program. Thaina Cordero is a Certified Sexologist and Care Coordinator at Cypress Wellness Center. She has an MS in Educational Psychology, is a trauma-informed yoga teacher, and doctoral student of Clinical Sexology at Modern Sex Therapy Institute. She has completed Levels 1 and 2 of Clinical Foundations in Gottman Method Couples Therapy. She helps individuals and couples explore their sexual expression, needs, fantasies, preferences, curiosities, and difficulties as they create more pleasurable, satisfying, and fulfilling sex life and relationships. Click here to request an appointment.