As more people reach out to me wanting to know more about incorporating mindfulness into their lives (as adults and in their role as parents), I decided to ask my friend and professional colleague Jo Futerman to share some of her knowledge. While we had similar training in learning about ADHD and Executive Function, she has taken a path that led her to develop a specialty in meditation and mindfulness for the past ten years. Using her training, she has helped hundreds of people dramatically improve the quality of their lives by reducing stress, increasing productivity, and improving their relationships with themselves and with those around them. In addition, she works with her clients to build a robust and solid foundation to create lasting, positive change. So I asked Jo to share how she uses mindfulness and meditation with her clients.
You’ve stated that mindfulness and meditation are an integral part of your coaching? Can you talk more about that?
People come to coaching because they seek to change. To create change, there must be awareness. And this is where I found that my clients often struggled.
For several years, I had ‘dabbled’ in meditation. I would meditate for a while, then fall off track, and in time, hop back on. Then, about ten years ago, I took training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and committed to 8 weeks of daily practice. Over time, I noticed a difference in how I was handling things. I was much less reactive and much more mindful and self-aware. I saw the positive impact that daily practice had on my life. That’s when I decided to become certified as a meditation teacher.
Mindfulness increases awareness. Therefore, mindfulness is key to change. Meditation increases mindfulness.
When clients come to me, typically, they’re feeling very “burnt out.” Like the hamster on the wheel, spinning but getting nowhere, or so it seems. Particularly those who have ADHD and struggle with managing time. How often I hear, ‘Hours go by, and I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing.’ This, of course, creates stress and anxiety, which impact productivity. It’s a cycle. So if we can learn to manage our stress and anxiety and be more self-aware and less reactive, our productivity increases, and the quality of our lives improve dramatically.
This is the work that I do with my clients. And please know, it is possible. Change IS possible. I’ve witnessed it countless times with the hundreds of clients that I’ve worked with in my programs over the years. It takes time, it takes work, it takes commitment, but I am there holding their hands every step of the way!
What would you say is the biggest challenge around meditation, and how do you help your clients get over the hurdle?
The two things that I hear most often are (1) I don’t have time, and (2) I can’t get my mind to stop racing.
Meditation could take as little as 5 minutes a day. But even if you’re not sitting in meditation (which, let’s be honest, we all have 5 minutes), you can practice being more mindful. So we start there. We talk about really simple ways to create more mindfulness throughout the day.
As far as getting the busy brain to just “turn off’ – this is a misconception about meditation. People think that in order to meditate or “do it right,” we need to turn off the mind. That’s not always possible, especially early in our practice.
Meditation is not the practice of turning off the mind. It’s the practice of noticing what is happening in the present moment, including our thoughts. Simply put – meditation is the practice of noticing whatever is there in the present moment.
How do Meditation and Mindfulness help someone who has ADHD?
In 2008, Dr. Lydia Zylowska conducted a study where adults and adolescents with ADHD completed an eight-week mindfulness training program. The results showed that 78% of participants reported a reduction in their ADHD symptoms. Improvements were also observed in anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Other studies have shown that meditation increases attention, resilience to stress, and compassion. It also has a positive impact on physical health. For example, studies show that practicing meditation lessens the inflammatory response caused by stress and increases telomerase levels, an enzyme that is linked to longevity.
There is overwhelming evidence of the many benefits of a meditation and mindfulness practice!
Jo Futerman is a professionally trained and Certified Life Coach, ADHD Coach and Meditation Teacher. You can email her: [email protected] or call: 516.236.6964