Cure ADD/ADHD with Meditation
Meditation is a brain-exercise that is good for a lot of things. Ultimately, it is designed to make you happy & successful in life, as well as making you completely impervious to suffering and unhappiness. It also happens to obliterate all kinds of “mental disorders” along the way. Lucky for Little Timmy and his Teachers, ADD / ADHD is the first to fall. Here’s how it works.
How Does Meditation Cure ADD / ADHD?
Meditation is, simply put, an exercise for the brain. It is nothing more than that (it has nothing to do with religion or philosophy; if you are concerned about this, click here). Meditation is intended to develop “deep states of concentration” (known in the east as “samadhi”) by developing the brain’s ability to pay attention.
In many of the articles I’ve written on the subject, I use the words “Attention Control Muscles” to try to communicate the way that meditation actually works on your brain.
When you challenge a muscle, it grows, and gets stronger. We are used to this concept in relation to our bodies, since it’s easy to see the physical effects of going to the gym.
Our brains grow in a similar way to our muscles. When you use a certain part of your brain, it actually grows larger and stronger. When you don’t use that part of your brain, it grows smaller and weaker. This process is called “Neuroplasticity,” and is a well-documented phenomenon.
The part of your brain that Meditation Techniques exercise is the “Attention Control Center” in your brain. Meditation does this by challenging you to perform some very intense, attention-oriented tasks. There are four “parts” to your attention process that are challenged by the meditation exercise; these are what I call the “Attention Control Muscles.” Here they are, in order of depth:
The brain’s abilities to:
- be consciously aware of where its attention is focused at any given moment
- consciously choose an object on which to focus its attention
- hold its attention on one object for an extended period of time
- notice, but not be distracted by, other phenomena while maintaining full attention on one object
In other words:
1. Mindfulness (an abiding “Attention Awareness”)
2. Focus-Selecting Muscle
3. Focus-Holding Muscle
4. Concentration + Peripheral Awareness
Meditation cures ADD / ADHD by strengthening these attention control muscles. It’s actually a very simple and obvious thing, once you understand how meditation works. Click here to learn how to meditate, or here to read more about how meditation works.
What Causes ADD / ADHD, anyway?
ADD / ADHD is caused by an inability to control the attention.
Our current western psychiatric paradigm has got it wrong. When someone can’t seem to focus on the things he wants to focus on, we say that he has an “attention deficit,” meaning he doesn’t have enough attention. This is not the case.
In fact, people with ADD / ADHD often have even more mental energy than people without; it just happens to be flying all over the place. The word “concentration” means “to bring or come to a common center.” The thing that differentiates between someone with ADD / ADHD and a “focused” person is that the “focused” person has the ability to concentrate his attention into one focal point. This is not a function of “not having enough attention,” this is a function of developing the ability to control it.
The only way to truly cure ADD / ADHD at its source is to develop the brain’s ability to control the attention. Exercising the Attention Control Muscles is the natural way to do this.
That’s why Meditation works better than Medication.
Meditation vs. Medication
Meditation is an exercise for the brain’s Attention Control Muscles, which allows a person to focus his mental energy in the manner of his own choosing.
Medications like Adderall and Ritalin, on the other hand, simply increase the amount of mental energy. They flood the brain with dopamine, a neurotransmitter that carries electrical signals from one brain-cell to another. This is a terrible way to treat ADD / ADHD.
Imagine that your mind is a laser beam. If the laser is focused on a small enough point, it can burn a hole through the wall. People with ADD / ADHD simply don’t know how to focus the laser. The laser beam is too wide, and the spot is too big on the wall. The light is too “spread-out.”
So the ADD / ADHD laser operator has two choices: either (a) learn how to turn the dial and focus the laser, or (b) plug the laser into a higher-voltage electrical outlet than it was designed to be used with. Which of those sounds like a better idea to you?
When you take drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, cocaine, and crystal meth, you’re overloading your brain with much more electricity than it was designed to handle.
In the case of the laser, if you plug it into an electrical source that it was not designed to handle, the machine may explode. In the case of your brain… well, just look at the big red warning signs on the bottle!
Oh yeah, that’s right, they don’t have warnings. How about that? I guess the government just “trusts” the drug companies when they say they don’t need big scary warnings on the labels.
Well, let’s take a look at some of the “side effects” listed on the Adderall page of the US National Institute of Health website.
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- changes in sex drive or ability
- stomach pain
- fast or pounding heartbeat
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- slow or difficult speech
- dizziness or faintness
- weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
- motor tics or verbal tics
- believing things that are not true
- feeling unusually suspicious of others
- hallucinating (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)
- mania (frenzied or abnormally excited mood)
- aggressive or hostile behavior
- blurred vision
- feelings of panic
- coma (loss of consciousness for a period of time)
- instant death
Yeah. Instant death. Do you still want to take Little Timmy to see the Psychiatrist because he’s having trouble in school? Hmm. Maybe you should save yourself some time and buy him some meth on the street; it’s essentially the same thing anyway.
Prescription medication is now the third most common cause of death in the United States. Shocking isn’t it? Maybe even a bit appalling.
Worse yet, even if you don’t die, and you don’t mind the extreme anxiety, panic, insomnia, and all the other effects of these drugs… you’re still destroying your brain in the long term. By overloading your brain’s dopamine system, you’re actually making the problem worse by decreasing your brain’s sensitivity to dopamine. This “medicine” doesn’t cure the problem… it actually makes it so much worse that it can be impossible to function without the drug. The withdrawal can be hell, just like with other dopaminergic drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.
Mee, from addforums.com, put it this way:
After 6 years of being on Adderall 40-60 MG a day I decided to stop because I felt like I was a slave to this drug for my energy . Well it is hell and the Dr.’s will tell you it is your ADD coming back ……. no this is someone who was addicted to a powerful Amphetamine and whose life is hell right now from the withdrawals … and not to control there ADD but to keep them high all day . Well for those who have only been on it for a few years well wait till about 5 years + and then try to function without it .
I wish someone had told me years ago when I first started it that I would pay dearly for this wonder drug that made me feel so good when I had to get off of it . And yes I do not believe you can stay on it for life … when you get up to needing about 60 + mg a day in your 4th or 5th year you start to understand the toll an Amphetamine takes on your health over a long period of time .
After years of using these drugs, who can say how much damage people have done to their brains? Tens, or hundreds, of millions of our brothers and sisters have unwittingly destroyed their brains in such a way that they will never be the same again. I must emphasize: Adderall is an amphetamine, a dopamine releaser, just like speed, ecstasy, and crystal meth. Ritalin is a DRI (dopamine reuptake inhibitor), just like cocaine, special-K, and PCP (angel dust). Our governments destroy meth labs and kill drug lords that compete with the drug companies’ monopoly on these dangerous substances. They then give Merck & Pfizer free reign to give this stuff to your kids.
Meditation, on the other hand… cures the “chemical” problem instead of making it worse. Instead of flooding your brain with dopamine, you are actually cutting back on your dopamine release.
The most effective meditation techniques quiet the mind by focusing the attention on something that does not involve mental stimulation. When we limit the stimulation, we limit the dopamine release. What this does is exactly the opposite of the amphetamines, DRIs, and street drugs that are so popular nowadays. We limit the dopamine, instead of flooding the brain with it. This causes the brain to become more and more sensitive to dopamine over time, instead of becoming less sensitive over time. Meditation strengthens your brain; medication weakens it.
Aside from the whole “chemical balance” thing, don’t forget about the fact that meditation actually strengthens the Attention Control Muscles, by causing the brain’s Attention Center to hypertrophy (grow more brain-cells), as described above. Oh yeah, and it’s free. That’s pretty cool as well. And also, high doses of meditation lead to everlasting happiness and freedom from suffering… as opposed to the mania, delusions, anxiety, and addiction that you get from high doses of dopamine-blasting drugs like Adderall, Ritalin, & Cocaine.
Well, I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. It is clear that meditation is a far superior form of treatment than medication, when it comes to “mental disorders” like ADD / ADHD.
So go meditate! If you’d like more information, browse through this site, there are tons of articles. For my article on the “original” form of meditation (and also one of the most powerful), click here.
EDIT 19 November 2017: Meditation is perhaps the most powerful practice you can use to train your brain to focus (thereby fixing your ADHD). However, through my teaching practice, I’ve met a few people who have such overwhelming ADHD symptoms that they can’t even sit down and meditate long enough to receive its benefits. For those people, I’ve begun recommending some natural supplements as alternatives to pharmaceuticals like Adderall. Here’s a handy little list, from cognitune.com: