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Real Happiness Challenge-Week 1: Concentration: How To Tame Our Monkey Mind, With Or Without ADHD

“Oh my god I sooo have ADD!”

How did expressions like this become the norm in our culture? Many of us feel as if we might have Attention Deficit Disorder even if we don’t have it, and for the many that do, the commonality is the frustration about our minds being so busy we can’t concentrate.




Credit Audrey Niffenegger

We live in a world of speed, mounds of information, as neuroscientist Emma Seppala PhD beautifully describes, our inboxes being so full we need to process a different emotion per email.  


We love our distractions and our pace as it makes us feel productive, important, and successful. Seppala states in her new book The Happiness Track that “the concept of idleness as bad is so deeply ingrained that many people (84 percent of executives, for example!) cancel vacations to work”.

Parker Posey in her talk with Seppala at the Rubin Museum recently spoke about feeling the most content when she is in the moment, and during periods of synchronicity with others. Most of us would agree, but…

We need to be able to have the consistency of coming back to the present moment to sustain the attention needed to have contentment like this.

This week in Sharon Salzberg’s 28 day meditation challenge, she teaches us about the importance of the “art of starting over” by coming back either to the breath or our senses in a given moment.

By “coming back” over and over again to our breath, we create the consistency and reliability inherent to concentration.

My experience, even as someone that has a regular meditation practice, is that Salzberg’s meditations have been incredibly valuable to me as a way of returning to the basics that always need a refresh. It amazes me how lost the simplicity of our breath and 5 senses can become like a long lost friend. We can’t see because we are just too busy. The reconnection with these inner resources, in a way that is consistent (like for 28 days!) builds steadiness of mind and allows the restless monkey of the brain to feel calm. Salzberg cites two studies in the 28-Day Challenge book in which meditation improved concentration in those with ADHD and those without ADHD. If enjoying life means having the concentration and fortitude to fully be present in a given moment, building the muscle of “starting again” and again and again with our breath is probably the most important workout we could ever embark on.


Adrienne Glasser is a psychotherapist and graduate of the Interdependence Project's Meditation Teacher Program. 

IDP is participating in lineage mentor Sharon Salzberg's REAL HAPPINESS Meditation Challenge.  This 28-day practice follows the the program outlined in Sharon’s New York Times bestseller, Real Happiness for the entire month of February. We encourage everyone to join us; since 2011, thousands have participated in this challenge which will help you develop your meditation with support from the entire community.​

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