Our neighbor, Adam, who may have undiagnosed ADHD, is a wine enthusiast. His practical enjoyment of this hobby would greatly increase, I believe, if he obtained ADHD coaching that included mindfulness training.
Like many people with ADHD, Adam, a pseudonym for my real neighbor, is very intelligent, and when his mind alights on a topic that interests him, he will exhaustively explore it. His ability to hyper focus on things that fascinate him is common for people with ADHD, and potentially a great asset, but only if it isn’t sabotaged by ADHD’s less positive attributes. In at least in one instance, that sabotaging happened to Adam in his attempt to share his knowledge and enjoyment of wine.
A few other neighbors and I planned with Adam a French gourmet dinner, for which he was to choose the perfect wine. He researched thoroughly, made the ideal choice, and found one small wine store in the area that carried it. The store was located about 45 minutes away, so picking it up required a significant time investment from Adam.
When Adam arrived at the wine store, about four people were ahead of him in line. The clerk was taking quite a bit of time with the customer he was currently helping. Adam started to feel horribly restless, like a caffeinated, caged racehorse. He checked his phone, but he didn’t have any messages. He looked around, but didn’t see anything interesting. After about five minutes, the clerk was still helping the first customer, and Adam couldn’t stand it anymore. He left without the wine.
Mindfulness coaching for ADHD would have enabled Adam to respond differently to the situation. First, it would have provided him techniques for waiting his turn in line without becoming hopelessly bored and restless. Although people with ADHD often have difficulty setting short and long-term goals for the future, they are always careening towards it. Usually, the present is something to be endured until they can race ahead to something more compelling or exciting. Mindfulness coaching trains those with ADHD to be present in the present, to become aware of the anxiety that makes the present feel intolerable, and find a place in their own bodies and minds to focus on rather than depending on external stimuli.
Second, mindfulness coaching would have helped Adam with the impulsiveness that caused him to leave the store. Instead of reacting to an urge born of anger, boredom, anxiety, or some other emotion of which Adam was unaware he was experiencing, mindfulness would have taught him to first observe his emotional experience non-judgmentally, and then to decide how he wished to respond to it. Thus, Adam wouldn’t have been managed by his impulses, but rather his impulses would have been managed by him.
The dinner proceeded without the perfect wine, and the evening was still enjoyable. Adam was already talking about the great wine he would bring next time. I couldn’t help hoping that he would get a little mindfulness coaching before then.