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Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?

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In this PDF by Shinzen where he talks about focus on rest, http://www.shinzen.org/Retreat%20Reading/Focus%20on%20Rest-Summary.pdf - at the end is the 'do nothing' meditation. Somewhere, I cannot recall, it may be out of his Science of enlightenment book or some other source, he talks about how someone with ADHD might not be able to do anything but the 'do nothing' meditation. I am curious if anyone out there knows anything about this type of thing or has experience working on concentration with ADHD.

Thanks

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
1/25/12 10:20 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
My concentration has been poor for many years (used to be fine). Nowadays, my mind responds best to reading spiritually inspired works. If the author is enlightened, then I suppose what this amounts to is "transmission". For this, have a read of some of Adyashanti's writings here: http://www.adyashanti.org/index.php?file=writings. His words carry an energy that is beyond the mere meaning of the words alone, and to me that's what transmission means.

When you read or listen to anything, a book, a post, a blog, a youtube clip, if you don't feel inspiration then it's unlikely the person writing/speaking it is inspired (so long as 1. you're open enough and 2. the gap between you and him isn't too great). Deepak Chopra is a good example of someone who has an amazing technical knowledge of spirituality and medicine, but when you read his books they're dry and tasteless. Very informative, and well worth reading for their own sake, but still lacking that certain something. Knowledge is handy but "not knowing" is what transforms you. He gives you knowledge only.

There is something else I have been trying. It hasn't led anywhere great yet, but at the same time it doesn't aggravate my mental state, and it feels promising. Many enlightened people have suggested this process as a starting point. Castaneda called it 'Recapitulation', but this is taken from a Richard Rose tallk:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

"What kind of meditation do you recommend?" someone asked.

"To begin, start looking back at the people and events of your life, especially the traumas. Everybody has an unfinished agenda that needs cleaning up. It’s beneficial to meditate on those people or situations that left you with a sense of injury. Times when you felt mistreated, events that left you feeling sorry for yourself, perhaps. I don't mean relive them or psychoanalyze them. Just go back and try to remember them, then see if you can observe them dispassionately. If you stick with it for awhile, eventually you'll start seeing what a fathead you were, seeing what got you into trouble. And if you follow up on it, maybe you'll see that you're still making the same mistakes right now.

"As you mature, some of this takes place normally," Rose said with a smile. "I just recommend accelerating the process so it doesn't take you ninety years or ninety lifetimes to figure out what a fool you are and start making some adjustments."
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Of course this isn't where everyone should start, but it's probably appropriate for me and others for whom mood/concentration is an issue.

(lots of edits in this post)

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
1/25/12 11:13 PM as a reply to This Good Self.
C C C:

____________________________________________________________________________________________________

"What kind of meditation do you recommend?" someone asked.

"To begin, start looking back at the people and events of your life, especially the traumas. Everybody has an unfinished agenda that needs cleaning up. It’s beneficial to meditate on those people or situations that left you with a sense of injury. Times when you felt mistreated, events that left you feeling sorry for yourself, perhaps. I don't mean relive them or psychoanalyze them. Just go back and try to remember them, then see if you can observe them dispassionately. If you stick with it for awhile, eventually you'll start seeing what a fathead you were, seeing what got you into trouble. And if you follow up on it, maybe you'll see that you're still making the same mistakes right now.

"As you mature, some of this takes place normally," Rose said with a smile. "I just recommend accelerating the process so it doesn't take you ninety years or ninety lifetimes to figure out what a fool you are and start making some adjustments."
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________



Excellent!

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
2/1/12 1:44 AM as a reply to Change A..
I have ADHD and I concentrate. Here's how.

1. I've worked long and hard with my doctor(s) to find a dose and delivery method of medicine that works for me. There were horrid side effects before that happened, and sometimes I even tried things that had only side effects and no benefits! There were times when it seemed like I should just give up on the medicine, and on the hope of ever having an obedient mind. But now that I've found something truly helpful, I'm very grateful that I kept with it. (My doctor's goal when prescribing is "the most help I can give you with no side effects worse than 2 on a scale up to 10." That's the only good way to use the medicine, IMO.)

2. I tried different techniques for jhana until I found one that worked. Now, this might seem to contradict the usual advice that says "Stick to one meditation technique and master it. Don't go from one thing to another without mastering them." But I'm not really trying to contradict that advice -- it's great advice, and it applies to people with ADHD too! It's just that there's another thing you need to know: you simply aren't going to master some techniques. Sorry to break it to you -- but then again, this isn't so hard to accept. You already knew that you were never going to permanently master the email inbox, right? You just found some "system"(ish) that worked(ish) and at least now you can quit worrying about missing the really important ones.

Getting back on topic, here's an example of how some techniques just didn't work for me, then suddenly one did. I worked on the jhana instructions from MCTB for literally a year with no success. Then I tried the instructions from Ajahn Brahm's "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" for literally a year, and still no jhana. Then I tried getting advice from Kenneth Folk, and it actually made my concentration worse! (Of course, I didn't try it for a year.) Then I read Katinka Hesselink's technique, which is based on the one used by Leigh Brasington and his teacher Ayya Khema. Boom! I was doing the first 3 jhanas within a month.

So the moral is that you shouldn't waste more than a few months on a technique if you aren't improving after a few months. But when you DO find a technique that you can really get good at, that's when you should remember the classic advice! Stick to that technique and really master it. Don't get caught up thinking "Maybe there's another one out there that's even better!" Please stick to the one that works, because it could take months before you find another one that works at all, and there's no guarantee that it would be better. Really, the most likely outcome is that any method which directs you to focus on the pleasure of the jhana itself instead of the breathing or a kasina or the width of attention will be helpful, because pleasure is much easier to focus on than neutral sensations like touch and vision or painful sensations like effort. I don't know for certain that other ADHD people would have similar results, but it's a reasonable guess.

3. I worked with a teacher who was helpful. Kenneth is great, and I love his website. But I didn't benefit from his advice when we worked together. Then I tried working with Vince, and the results were far better. (The fact that I liked him more was probably relevant.) So, just as with techniques, find a teacher who's helpful and stick with that person! You'll get better with time.

4. Insight. I haven't gotten stream entry yet, but I've familiarized myself with part of the territory. The jhanas which correspond to that territory are now easier. After stream entry, most meditators report a dramatic improvement of their ability to access jhana.

5. Patience. Both in the long term and the short term. Long-term patience means accepting that learning this skill takes time, and that's the way it is, and there's no point aggravating yourself over that fact. Short-term patience means accepting that you might or might not get any jhana on any particular sit, and if you do get a jhana, it will not be through impatient craving for pleasure, but rather, from a genuinely compassionate wish for yourself to experience a pure, innocent form of happiness. This leads to number...

6. Be in a state of mind conducive to calm concentration before you attempt calm concentration.
How? Do some metta and karuna before EVERY meditation practice.
How much metta? Enough to put you in a good mood.
What happens if the good mood goes away while you're practicing, e.g. due to frustration? Do more metta until you're back in the good mood, and then go back to practicing concentration.
What if you just can't be in a good mood? Then come back later in a few hours and practice again.

More questions?

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
12/16/12 11:09 AM as a reply to J Adam G.
Can you clarify where to get information about "Katinka Hesselink's technique, which is based on the one used by Leigh Brasington and his teacher Ayya Khema." Their websites seem to be quite cluttered, and I don't see a clearly outlined technique. Thanks!

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
12/16/12 4:35 PM as a reply to bill of the wandering mind.
It's important to make a difference between attention and concentration. We had a discussion about this here:
http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/3642138

Concentration/focus is an effort to direct attention on a narrow field. We favor some sensory input or thought process over others.

Attention let is something wide and open. It's about letting everything enter awareness and not grabbing to it.

ADHD is an attention problem. The fact that people with ADHD have poor concentration can be seen as a side effect of having poor attention. There is something very physical about this. If someone with ADHD open his awareness and try to do vipassana, that person will find a lot of physical discomfort. This is the discomfort we try to run away from by getting lost in thoughts.

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
12/17/12 4:47 PM as a reply to J Adam G.
J Adam G:
Then I read Katinka Hesselink's technique, which is based on the one used by Leigh Brasington and his teacher Ayya Khema. Boom!


I'm also interested in getting more specifics on this. I've read Brasington breaking down different teachers' styles and techniques but I'm not sure which he uses. I've also heard of people making fast progress on his retreats.

What does anyone think of Pa Auk's anapana spot? Where you focus on a spot between the nostrils and upper lip, not visualizing, not focus on tactility, but just the "knowing" of the breath as it passes the spot? I'm getting mixed results after using it for about six months now.

Otherwise, very helpful post. Thanks.

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
12/17/12 8:54 PM as a reply to Michael Cannon.
First off, here's the relevant section of Katinka's website: The Jhanas in Theravadan Buddhist Meditation. Be sure to view Page 2 of this section, titled "How to enter the jhanas."

That article explained something I found really important -- how to use pleasurable objects of concentration in order to increase that concentration. Take note of the "positive feedback loop." The positive feedback loop is fertile ground for cultivating the ability to concentrate without severe effort.

The PFL is also fertile ground for cultivating insight -- there's a lot to be learned about how the relationship to pleasurable sensations can be skillful or unskillful. Refer back to my original post about "impatient craving for pleasure" versus "kind-hearted wish for yourself to experience a pure form of happiness." This practice is one of the many ways to experience suffering, its cause, its prevention, and to learn the skills required for its prevention.

The technique of "just knowing" the breath is what I learned from Ajahn Brahmavamso. I didn't get results. If you've been doing it for six months now and made little progress, move on to another technique. I make no guarantee that Katinka's technique will work for you, but the important point is that you realize the need to tune-up or even outright switch your technique. It doesn't have to take six months to make significant skill gains.

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
12/17/12 9:54 PM as a reply to Simon T..
I've actually had the opposite experience. Opening the field of experience up as widely as possible drastically cuts suffering, and narrowly focusing on a small area of sensation to the exclusion of other sensations is itself a form of suffering.

I've always assumed this problem was one of the core difficulties with ADHD -- it's so much more miserable and draining for us to effortfully focus than it is for other people, which is why we can't do it as long as "normal" people can. As testament to this fact, I have to bail out of the first jhana almost as soon as it stabilizes or I'll lose access concentration entirely. I couldn't even get into the first jhana until I learned to relax as much mental tension as possible, and only allow that unavoidable amount of tension that is required to get into the jhana.

The uncomfortable tightness of focus is why the first jhana "feels bad" compared to the second. The same goes for the transition from second to third (more open) and then into the fourth (wide open) jhanas, where effort and inhibition of sensation decrease further.

As for getting lost in thoughts, it's my experience that getting lost in thoughts necessarily involves a tight focus. That's because most sensory experiences must be suppressed for any specific thought process to take center stage in the mind. Let go of the tightness, and the suffering stops, while the previously enthralling storytelling process loses its compelling sense of importance. Instead, the entire field of experience can become a compelling object, or it could all be pretty uninteresting, depending upon your attitude at the moment.

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
3/13/14 9:41 PM as a reply to J Adam G.
J Adam G:
I have ADHD and I concentrate. Here's how.


2. I tried different techniques for jhana until I found one that worked. Now, this might seem to contradict the usual advice that says "Stick to one meditation technique and master it. Don't go from one thing to another without mastering them." But I'm not really trying to contradict that advice -- it's great advice, and it applies to people with ADHD too! It's just that there's another thing you need to know: you simply aren't going to master some techniques. Sorry to break it to you -- but then again, this isn't so hard to accept. You already knew that you were never going to permanently master the email inbox, right? You just found some "system"(ish) that worked(ish) and at least now you can quit worrying about missing the really important ones.


Hi there J (and anyone else interested in Jhana / concentration practices and ADHD).

I also have ADHD and was hoping Shamatha practice could be the ticket to being able to get rid of (or massively reduce) my ADHD symptoms and the need for stimulant drugs which I hate taking but make life so much doable. I came across Shamatha in the form of Alan Wallace's Attention Revolution book which I googled my way to some time ago. At that point I had been doing MFB in the JKZ style for about 30 mins for a year and had found enormous benefits in my life however these were more along the lines of emotional regulation / inserting the pause, rather than doing anything for my concentration / working memory issues.

In AW's book, he describes achieving Shamatha in terms of accessing the first Jhana, yet says that this is somethign that requires full time retreat commitment of usually several months or years. Am I confusing terms here? Because I've now read a few different things that says Jhanas can be reached by most in 10 day retreat (e.g., Shaila Catherine).

That aside however, the way AW described Shamatha, his description of it is kind of the antithesis to ADHD. I am not in a position to go to full time retreat (or even a 10 day) as I am a single working mother however my hope was that with dedication I'd at least be able to really see some improvements. So I've been sitting for 1-3 hours per day since the start of the year according to the AW instructions and while I'm certainly much calmer, the inattention / distractacbility etc are still a big part in my life. So I'm just wondering about the reality of these practices actually generalising to real-world cognitive ADHD problems?

Do you mind if I ask you whether achieving (sorry if wrong word) 1st Jhana impacted your ADHD out in the real world? You mention you take medication, have you been able to reduce dosage as a result of your practice? Are you able to focus better in work or study? What about working memory improvements, which is my biggest issue although much research says WM deficits are ultimately down to deficits in attention.

I'm new here and hope it's OK to post on old threads. If not, pls let me know and I can start a new one. I've also tried searching for posts on ADHD but don't seem to be able to locate a search function on here?

Many thanks and really pleased to be part of this community,

Ruby

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
3/13/14 10:41 PM as a reply to Ruby Gum.
Ruby Gum:
I've also tried searching for posts on ADHD but don't seem to be able to locate a search function on here?

Try searching on google like this ---> site:http://www.dharmaoverground.org ADHD
It's pretty good at finding stuff...
~D

RE: Anyone know anything about ADHD and concentration?
Answer
3/13/14 11:21 PM as a reply to Dream Walker.
Dream Walker:
Ruby Gum:
I've also tried searching for posts on ADHD but don't seem to be able to locate a search function on here?

Try searching on google like this ---> site:http://www.dharmaoverground.org ADHD
It's pretty good at finding stuff...
~D


Thanks D
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