Mindfulness Meditation and Breathing Relaxation for children with ADHD

A Comparison of the Effects of Mindfulness Meditation and Breathing Relaxation on Concentration, Attention and Physical Relaxation

In her Master thesis in the subject of Applied Cognitive and Media Science, Patrizia Ring examined the effects of a short mindfulness meditation versus breathing relaxation. Even though mindfulness meditation has been in the focus of science for four decades since the development of Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction program, many questions still remain unclear.

The thesis aimed to support the MATS project (the development of a mobile training application for children with ADHD) by answering the question how mindfulness meditation and breathing relaxation differ in their effects regarding subsequent cognitive performance as well as physical and mental relaxation. This question was relevant to the development of the training application since testimonials from experts show that children with ADHD often times have problems to calm down and focus on a task. Furthermore, one of the cognitive training games called Plucking Gnomes was tested during this study.

The results showed that a single ten-minute mindfulness meditation does not improve state mindfulness, nor does it have a significant impact on physical or mental relaxation. However, the mindfulness meditation did not seem to have an influence on cognitive performance. Instead, the breathing relaxation group showed the tendency to perform worse than the meditation and control group. Hence, it seems to be recommended to not use a breathing relaxation before a training session. Here, mindfulness meditation might be more target-oriented in order to help the child focus on the pending task.

Furthermore, self-compassion was also controlled for as it is a concept that is very close to mindfulness. Here, interesting results were found: While it is known, that individuals with ADHD often have low self-esteem, people with low executive functions and self-reported ADHD symptoms also seemed to have low self-compassion. This is interesting as self-compassion is an important tool for resilience, the ability to cope with stressful times and events. Based on the results, a training program could be designed to help ADHD patients develop better coping skills via self-compassion.