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Thread: ADHD (meds) and Zen

  1. #1

    ADHD (meds) and Zen

    Hey all...

    The last time I had an intensive practice, I didn't know I had ADHD. I've since been taking non-stimulant meds (namely Strattera). They basically help me do everything better, including meditation.

    Can anyone offer any perspective on ADHD meds and zazen?


  2. #2

    Re: ADHD (meds) and Zen

    Hi Chet,

    I cannot speak about the effect of the meds themselves, having no experience with those. But I can say that we sit with what is, in the condition we find life allows. So, for example, if we are in traction in a hospital bed, sitting in a wheelchair, have vision problems that create wandering eye and such (some people in the Sangha have various vision issues), ringing tinnitus, runny nose ... we "sit" Zazen in bed, in the wheelchair, with our wandering vision, ringing ears or runny nose.

    I would say it is the same for the effects of some medication we must take.

    They are no distraction or problem if we do not make them a distraction or problem, by thinking them so. Each is just what is, as it is.

    Gassho, J

  3. #3

    Re: ADHD (meds) and Zen

    Hey Chet,

    I have ADHD and have been taking meds for 15 years (so long ago we just called it ADD), but only doing zazen for about a year. Even with the medication I have trouble sitting still, but when the meds wear off I wondered if it would even be possible. However, as Jundo has told me more than once and has repeated in this thread, you sit with what is and make no judgments as to whether it is "troubled" or "problematic". It just is and I sit whether the meds have kicked in or not. I can't help but think that zazen would offer some of the same benefits of the meds, but I'll leave that to folks who know about brain chemistry.

    Not sure if that helps.


  4. #4

    Re: ADHD (meds) and Zen

    Some people with ADHD have a more pronounced 'alpha' brainwave profile. Alpha is the brainwave of 'twilight' - I would liken it to a pre-samadhi sort of state...that 'in and out' sort of place you might find when you sit. I've talked with some people with ADHD who literally can't even imagine meditation. Pre-diagnosis, I had some issues with my mind going bonkers for the first 10 minutes or so, but after that it seemed easy. Looking back, I probably had the same issues everyone with ADHD has, except I really felt no desire to move around when meditating.

    With the meds, it generally takes about 5 minutes before my mind stops running around as much.

    The thing is, when I tell people with ADHD that they can meditate because it doesn't matter if their minds are going crazy, they look at me like I've just said the sky is green. Of course, a lot of them also say, 'oh yeah, I do yoga!' like it's the same thing...so...

    This is fresh in my mind because I just went to an ADHD meetup.

    I think there's just generally a lot of misunderstanding out there about what zen meditation is. I asked Brad this same thing about meds and he said pretty much the same thing you did, Jundo. I don't recall if I've asked any other teachers yet. I just keep wondering if someone is going to bring up the precept about intoxicants in relationship to ADHD meds.

  5. #5

    Re: ADHD (meds) and Zen

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I just keep wondering if someone is going to bring up the precept about intoxicants in relationship to ADHD meds.
    If someone does, they'll nothing about ADHD or the benefits of psychopharmacology.


  6. #6

    Re: ADHD (meds) and Zen

    I just keep wondering if someone is going to bring up the precept about intoxicants in relationship to ADHD meds.
    But you're not using ADHD meds to become intoxicated, so would the precept even apply?


  7. #7

    Re: ADHD (meds) and Zen

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I just keep wondering if someone is going to bring up the precept about intoxicants in relationship to ADHD meds.
    I personally don't see how this would apply .. If you were on heart medication would it be a breaking of the precept while taking it? In my view, no

  8. #8

    Re: ADHD (meds) and Zen

    As far as ANY of it is concerned, I think Buddha taught that this is YOUR practice. Buddha laid out some ideas and said, "This is what I think works. If you want, you can see if it works for you."

    Buddhism is a non-proselytizing, non-judging ideal, right? All the Buddhist teachers i hear from or read about mention how we don't ever push Buddhism on people. Instead, one waits until asked sincerely, and, it would seem, frequently, about Buddhism and then one is free to share. Similarly, if we make no judgement on, or even distinction between, what is good or bad, and simply accept the world as what it is, then you are fine.

    Buddha, as well as the majority of the rest of everyone, wandered through the extremes before reaching the middle way. Even if one were taking medication for the specific purpose of intoxication, aren't we just testing hypotheses? Aren't we simply reviewing the material presented to us, hopefully taking the time to contemplate and reflect upon it, and coming to our own conclusions?

    I am happy to admit that I have been intoxicated. In fact, I have been intoxicated on more than one occasion :shock: . Yet if I had not had these experiences I would not realize that my path lies in the middle. I do not become blindly intoxicated on a regular basis and have no desire to become so at all, but I am glad to know what it's like to give myself an understanding of the world.

    So take your meds. If they help you on your path, great. As long as your mindful, you're sweet as, eh? After all, who am I to judge on how best to alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings? I can only attend to my own path.


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