ADD, Interest, Attention, Intention and… Holiday Inspirations!

Fresh and novel inspiration for my “spiritual” practices and the celebration of the Holidays comes from, of all places, my ADHD coach-training program. Truth be told, there’s no small embarrassment accompanying this gift. Tell you why:

As you can see, much of my service involves teaching T’ai Chi, a discipline and body of knowledge that includes awareness of the subtle anatomy of our bodies (think Acupuncture) as outlined by the Taoist Masters who created the practice. Even previous to my T’ai Chi training, however, I spent a lot of time learning the subtle anatomy involved in spiritual awakening from other Eastern traditions and a goodly amount of time trying to activate it and realize the Divine experiences available there.

The turn of my attention from even earlier spiritual and psychological studies and practices that emphasized only Mind and Spirit was a truly integral move; one that brought me back into the fullness of my Being by including the body as an expression of the Divine and not something separate or “lower” to it. As great as this move was, the embarrassing irony was how I attended to the body as outlined by the Eastern teachings, but I hardly gave equivalent attention to what our Western scientists and medical experts charted about our bodies. I was particularly neglectful of appreciating the impact of brain anatomy and the neurotransmitters so instrumental in its operations.

Well, I’m caught up now both in study and treatment! The ADD Coach Academy teaches a model called MACHINE-MIND-MISSION to help understand and work with ADHD, which illuminates so well for me the significance of the brain on our minds and our sense of place and purpose in life. I’ve had the connection between body, mind and spirit for a long time, but just never gave due consideration to the machine side of the equation for the brain’s significance to mind and spirit.

As we all generally know, ADHD is a challenge of the executive functions of the brain, located in the frontal lobes. The neurotransmitters in ADHDrs trend to deficiency there (for reasons not yet known, except that this condition is inherited, as my daughter has brought to my attention, lo! so late in life!) and need the special stirrings of exercise and interest to get them going.

Yup, that word interest makes a big difference. As David Giwerc and Barbara Butler have so succinctly put it in their ADD training: “The greater the person’s interest, the greater the intention of acting on what one is paying attention to.” Neuroscience clearly demonstrates that the ADHD neurology is wired for interest and not for importance like “neurotypical” individuals. This means that to get the neurotransmitters flowing, the synapses and neurons firing, and the executive functions up and running, ADDers would do well to begin each day starting with what inspires them the most and get an exercise practice going. Dr. John Ratey’s book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain will not only convince you but inspire you to start your day moving!

Now I believe these are truths for all of us, ADDrs and non-ADDrs alike! Without taking time to engage practices that take us to our source of inspiration, meaning and purpose, where our neurotransmitters get stirred up and turn on our brains, how can we become our best, or get that there is a far more positive, natural functionality than our more mundane world and its requisite functions can provide?

Against all my aversion to western science’s reductionism to the physical to explain any and all things, I’ve had to return to the more holistic/integral wisdom I’ve otherwise known so well and appreciate what it takes to generate better brain chemistry to get me and keep me connected not only to my attention and the intentions to actualize what I’m attracted to, but to God as well! Employing all the means listed here to get my attention going like never before, my intentions to live a life fully connected from body to mind to spirit are moving me to experience the Spirit of Christmas and the Holidays more than ever before.

From studying scriptures East and West to meditation/prayer to physical exercise to medication, my personal practices now cover them all. The effect has been to make them inherently motivated and a welcomed necessity rather than an imposed discipline, more grace-fully moving me to go to bed earlier, get up earlier and engage in those very activities that feed me so Divinely.

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