• Holly Martinson

What is Mindfulness?




Mindfulness can be a beneficial practice to help in many areas of life. In this blog post, I will be narrowing the topic down to specifically address the link between mindfulness, Neurodiversity and Executive Functions.


I will briefly discuss the following points:


● What mindfulness is

● Ideas for practicing mindfulness

● Why it can feel so hard to practice mindfulness, especially if you (or your child) are

Neurodiverse

● How mindfulness can support an individual who is Neurodiverse


What is mindfulness?


Mindfulness can be defined as staying present in the moment you are in.


It sounds simple, and yet it can feel very complicated to practice it. Mindfulness involves being aware of what is happening in this moment of your life, while using your senses and emotions to tune in to notice your current experience. Another way to think of mindfulness is to view it as an opportunity to take a pause. That pause can open up awareness, help with focus, and can provide the opportunity for making a choice, rather than reacting.


How can you practice mindfulness?


When you hear the word mindfulness, you may immediately think of meditation or breathing.

These are great practices, and sometimes they are not as effective for those healing from

trauma or who have difficulty with focus, attention, and/or anxiety. There are several other

ways to practice mindfulness. In order to identify something that could work for you, reflecting on what brings you joy or a moment of ease can be a good place to start. You may be aware of what your interests are or what a creative outlet for you is. If you are supporting your child, you may want to have suggestions to present that connect to what they already like to do.


Mindfulness practices can involve movement, such as yoga, running, cycling, listening to music, looking at art, engaging in an art activity, cooking, brushing your teeth, and so much more. One of the best ways to practice is to find a way to incorporate it into your daily routine.


Why does mindfulness feel so hard to practice?


Our brains like the status quo. We may decide we want change, we may be told by someone it would benefit us to change, and our brains are likely going to resist it. There will be discomfort when we try to bring about change. If you are Neurodiverse (which can include ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, anxiety, and more), it may feel very uncomfortable to be still or to try to focus your mind. If there are things in your life you are trying to avoid, a quiet mindfulness practice will begin to stir those things up. There are still several ways for you to develop a practice that can keep you feeling safe in your mind and body.


Please Note: If what you are experiencing goes beyond stress and difficulty with focus, or you are healing from trauma or in a season of grief, the next best step would be to contact a

therapist.


How can mindfulness support someone who is neurodiverse and needs help with Executive

Function Skills?


Mindfulness can help develop self-awareness, which can include identifying feelings, habits

we fall into, or noticing our areas of avoidance. As we become more aware, mindfulness can

allow us to make a choice by responding to a situation rather than reacting.


Mindfulness can increase the awareness of where our attention is going, especially if focus is a challenge. There are wonderful practices for narrowing or broadening your focus, whichever you may need to work on. There are no rules about mindfulness that determine how you practice. In fact, I often say that I break the rules, because helping individuals find a safe and supportive way to practice is something I truly enjoy doing.


Additionally, if you notice that your work or academics are impacted, you may benefit from

Executive Function Coaching. A blend of both Executive Function Coaching and learning

specific mindfulness practices that meet your unique needs can be very effective. There is no

one size fits all approach, and it often takes multiple modalities and approaches to work on

attention, time management, task initiation, and organization. There are many possibilities to

explore.



About Holly Martinson:

Through her 20+ years of experience in coaching and education as well as additional training in mindfulness and yoga, Holly has observed how mindfulness connects well with supporting Executive Functions. She considers herself to be a “rule-breaking” mindfulness practitioner, as she teaches mindfulness in ways that are concrete and accessible. Holly’s philosophy is that we each have strengths and can utilize those strengths to support Executive Functions and attention, rather than the “deficit” model of focusing on “fixing” what is wrong. As an Integrative Executive Function Coach, Holly supports her clients through teaching skills and strategies for work and school, with a dose of mindfulness mixed in.


If you are experiencing stress that is beyond what you are able to cope with on a daily basis,

please reach out to Think Happy Live Healthy at info@thinkhappylivehealthy.com.


If you are interested in finding out if Executive Function Coaching is the right fit for your or your child, please contact Patient Minds & Holly Martinson at patientmindsllc@gmail.com.


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