The “noisy neighbor” approach to meditation

[Tweet : nvALT]

I don’t claim to be good at meditation, but I’ve come to understand the benefits of it, especially for someone with ADHD. I’m also probably bad enough at it that I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone how to do it. That said, I figured something out today that I think is worth sharing; maybe it will be of use to others, especially ADHD folks with a meditation practice.

A common thread through just about every meditation style that I’ve been exposed to is letting thoughts go. Letting them exist, acknowledging them, and then letting them pass. I’ve always viewed it as a front to back process, and taken that literally. My conscious thoughts exist in my frontal lobes, and I’m trying to clear those out, visualizing the thoughts passing to the sides or to the back of my brain.

This morning my yoga instructor misspoke and suggested letting conscious thoughts stay in the foreground instead of the background. I knew it was a slip-up, but, as is my way, I immediately wanted to know what would happen if I looked at it backwards. Magic, that’s what.

The front of my brain is always awash with thoughts. A constant buzzing. It’s probably common to more than just ADHD sufferers, but it’s something I’ve accepted I’ll always need to deal with. Today I found that I can acknowledge individual thoughts, but rather than consciously try to let them go, I can let them stay. Right there in the front, instead moving my focus to the background. I became aware of all the buzzing in my frontal lobes, but from the outside of it, separated from it. It became just a noise, not individual thoughts I needed to process. I visualized it as a noisy neighbor to my empty chamber, and one that I could ask to quiet down, or simply begin to tune out.

As a sleep aid I’ve often visualized my brain like a radio tuned to static. Let the static override conscious thoughts, and then slowly turn down the volume. It’s generally worked, and this little exercise had the same effect, but with a mindfully awake result.

Like I said, I’m no expert. This reverse in my visualization is a surprise to me, but it’s probably actually what I was supposed to be doing all along. Or at least another way of getting there. It just struck me that maybe others for whom meditation seems like an uphill battle might benefit.

Feel free to use the comments to share your own experiences, or just to tell me I’m unqualified to be opining about this stuff publicly. It’s ok, I can take it.