Home » Four Steps to Mindfulness [Telesummit Audio Recording]

Four Steps to Mindfulness

Four Steps to Mindfulness [Telesummit Audio Recording]

The following is the audio recording and transcript of a conversation with Laurie Dupar which originally aired as part of the 2016 Succeed with ADHD Telesummit. The Presentation was titled Four Steps to Mindfulness!

Length 34:31Presentation



LAURIE DUPAR Hello, everyone. And welcome back to the Sixth Annual Succeed with ADHD Telesummit. We are back by popular demand and are in full swing. We’ve brought together 20 of the best ADHD experts, authors, coaches, psychologists, educators, and organizers to share the latest most up-to-date ADHD information to help you learn more about ADHD and be successful, whether you’re an adult, a parent, a student, a partner, or a professional. I’m Laurie Dupar from Coaching for ADHD and the International ADHD Coach Training Center.
LAURIE DUPAR Each call during the Telesummit, we’ll be featuring a different guest along with their unique topic. The calls will last for 30 minutes so you have a chance to listen in to multiple calls each day. Just to remind you, the calls are being recorded so if you can’t listen live, you’ll have 24 hours of complimentary access to the replay of the recording. So if you’re already worried about missing out on one of the talks, be looking for an email from us that will tell you how to listen to the replay recording.
LAURIE DUPAR And if you already know you’re going to miss a call, another option for you is to easily upgrade to the ADHD Success Toolkit so you can listen to all the  call from the Telesummit whenever you want. For only $97, you’ll get extended digital access to all the calls on the Telesummit or you can retrieve them for your private listening. As a special bonus, when you purchase the ADHD success toolkit along with full access to all the experts and recordings, you’ll also get the speaker bonuses that the presenters are offering especially for Telesummit listeners to upgrade to the successful toolkit. These additional bonuses include useful ADHD downloads, templates, e-books, videos, and even complimentary access to future webinars from the presenters of the Telesummit. To upgrade to the ADHD success toolkit, you can simply go to the Telesummit website at succeedwithadhdtelesummit.com, that’s succeedwithadhdtelesummit.com and follow the ADHD toolkit link. Or if it’s easier for you just simply email us at support@succeedwithadhdtelesummit.com. So that would be just emailing us at support@succeedwithadhdtelesummit.com and we will be happy to help you with that purchase.
LAURIE DUPAR So now I have the honor of introducing you to our guest for this segment. And I’m really excited just to be able to spend time with this amazing lady. I’ve gotten to know her much better in the last couple of years and her information is just amazing and I know you’re going to enjoy the segment with Casey Dixon, who’s going to talk to us about four steps to mindfulness. Before Casey hops on, I want to tell you just a little bit about her. She’s an experienced ADHD coach with a focus on science-based, innovative strategies for attorneys, professors and other demand-ridden professionals with ADHD. Her practice also includes interventions and support for college students. With a national reputation for helping clients excel in authentic and creative ways using ADHD-informed approaches, Casey is recognized as an ICF Professional Certified Coach, Senior Certified ADHD Coach and Board Certified Coach. Casey most recently founded MindfullyADD, a website dedicated to the delivery of high-value content to help adults with ADHD develop and maintain a mindfulness approach to relieve ADHD symptoms. Welcome, Casey.
CASEY DIXON Thanks, Laurie. It’s great to be here at the Telesummit again.
LAURIE DUPAR Yeah. Thank you for coming again. I love this topic and I sort of out myself every time that we have you because I am not the best practitioner of mindfulness, so I am listening to this so intently to this, you have no idea [chuckles]. Tell us, why is mindfulness so important for people with ADHD?
CASEY DIXON Well, I love that question. And I think last year when we met on the Telesummit, I talked a lot about how important it can be for people with ADHD to utilize mindfulness and meditation practices to become more mindfully fit. I was finding research studies that consistently support mindfulness as a way to reduce ADHD symptoms and improve those overall executive function difficulties that everybody is sort of talking about now when we talk about ADHD. And as you know, because you and I have been this for a long, long time working with people with ADHD.

These types of results, where we can say, “Hey this really helps to reduce overall ADHD symptoms” just don’t come along every day. I think it’s incredibly important for us to shine a light on that when we find something that really works.

LAURIE DUPAR Exactly. Yeah. And I think you said it well. It really works when people are able. And there are some people – and I love that tone that you use and I mindfully fit. Because I’m so mindfully out of shape sometimes. So maybe that’s one the reasons why [laughter] I am feeling like, ” Oh, I’m not sure I can do this.”
CASEY DIXON Yeah. And I think that’s a really common thing.
CASEY DIXON To feel like you can do it. Yeah.
LAURIE DUPAR So if we were – if some of us wanted to get started with this. And I know there’s all different information that you want to share on this, but I’m sort of wondering if that would be also a good place to start. If someone wants to start practicing mindfulness, how do they get started with it?
CASEY DIXON Yeah. Well, and I think it’s kind of important to step back to your point which is – I’m feeling sort of mindfully unfit which makes me feel like this is going to be too difficult for me. And when we talk to people with ADHD, it’s important for us to take a step back and say, “What is the most important thing that you really need to focus on right now?” We can’t do it all at once and we need to be very respectful of what we’re giving our energy to, what kind of solutions we’re looking for, what feels doable right now.
CASEY DIXON And so when I work with my clients, I see that managing well when you have ADHD really has three essential components. The first one, having some good tactics or strategies or solutions that help you and support you. And that’s why a lot of people call an ADHD coach or tune in to the Telesummit because they want to figure out how to structure their to-do list or manage their time better. So those strategies are really important. The second part is making sure that you are in the right context in your life. Is your situation well adjusted to who you really are, what your strengths are, what your weaknesses are, and what your challenges are.
CASEY DIXON So the third part, managing well with ADHD, really is where mindfulness comes in, and that is optimizing your executive functions. Thomas Brown calls it “getting the chemistry straight”. And by that, he means the brain chemistry. And he talks a lot about medication. And part of that, I also think – because the research is backing me up on this and so are all of our colleagues – that in addition to medication, there’s also what I call “eat, sleep, breathe, and move” which is to make sure that you are optimizing the way your brain is working with a healthy diet and plenty of sleep, exercise, and breathing or mindfulness. And what we’ve learned is that mindfulness really helps you to improve executive functions. By helping you to notice the present moment in a very attentive, non-judgmental way, it anchors your attention to something that’s happening right now, so it could be something that you’re sensing in your environment, could be something that you’re saying either out loud or in your mind, or just noticing how your big toe is feeling right now.
CASEY DIXON When your attention drifts from the anchor, which is what’s going to happen, mindfulness encourages you and helps you to practice the ability to pull your attention back to that anchor.

So this is like lifting weights for the attention muscle, and the research is really showing that mindfulness practices improve executive functioning, attention, and emotional regulation.

So the first part about getting started is not one of the four steps I’m talking about in this talk. It’s more like, “Hey, understanding that this is going to get to the core of some of the stuff that you’re really struggling with. So it is important, and that’s the first important piece, creating a new habit is really believing in its importance for you.

LAURIE DUPAR Yeah. Casey, can I ask a question? I’m wondering if there are some – because I’m thinking, in one of the pieces that you said earlier is, “Don’t try and solve everything all at one time,” right? Focus on some of the things that maybe to start with that you want to be mindful of. And I’m wondering if for you, if there are some examples that you find that typically are great, that people this is helpful – and I know everybody’s different – but are there some commonalities about where people might start with that?
CASEY DIXON Where they might start with mindfulness, or where they might start with ….
LAURIE DUPAR Yeah, where they might start with some mindfulness where they might start with putting their focus on, considering – yeah.
CASEY DIXON I think that, you know – as we know, people with ADHD do better if they are trying to develop a habit, and they make a little plan ahead of time. One of the things that happens is that if you plan something in the moment – I call it “deciding in the moment” – this is an opportunity – it’s kind of a danger zone for people with ADHD – it’s an opportunity to make the less self-supportive choice based on how you’re feeling right now. So when we are in the moment, we’re always sort of looking out for the least painful choice. So if I’m a college kid and I’m trying to decide, right now in the moment, “Am I going to work on my sociology paper or am I going to go on Snapchat?” I’m going to choose Snapchat. But if I plan a little bit in advance like, “Okay, I’m going to hit that sociology paper for 15 minutes, set a timer, and then I’m going to let myself go on Snapchat.” I’m more likely to follow through. So the first step in practicing, you know, developing your mindfulness practice, is do a little, tiny bit of planning. I call it “as-if planning” in advance.
LAURIE DUPAR I like that.
CASEY DIXON You’re going to design your practice as if you can actually follow your plan without any issues or problems getting in the way without an expectation of failure and that you’re planning it for yourself. As if you’re planning it for you as a real person, not some mythical sort of master mindfulness.

As-if you’re planning it for you – as a real person – not some mythical master of mindfulness.

But with your own limitations and your own strengths and your own mind and your own ability to get time and energy to something.

LAURIE DUPAR That’s a great point. And I’m just noticing you’re going in and out a little bit, so I’m just wanting to let you know that. But I love that. A little – two tiny words to start this out. So we do some “as-if planning” seems to be the fore step to get started. The first step of the four steps to get started. If that’s what I heard.
CASEY DIXON Yeah. And if this is any better, but part of that “as-if planning” is just answering a couple of little questions like do I need to learn more about my mindfulness to meditation before I start, do I want to use guided meditations or do it on my own? How long do I want to sit in a meditation or mindfulness practice how frequently? And really importantly, when is the best time for me to try this?
LAURIE DUPAR Great points. Okay, got it.
CASEY DIXON And the second part is developing autopilot. So once you have your “as-if plan,” it’s going to include all the details that you need in order to get started. Developing autopilot to me means using the cues so that you can follow your plan without renegotiating it all the time. So I really love the “when I, then I” approach to developing autopilot. It goes something like this: When I feed my cat, then I take three intentional breaths.

So I really love the “when I, then I” approach to developing autopilot. It goes something like this: When I feed my cat, then I take three intentional breaths.

So that’s the “when I, then I” approach.  When I spoke at the CHADD conference, the participants there came up with some really amazing ones. Some guy said, “When I’m sitting at that stop light that stops me everyday on my way to work, then I practice my mindfulness practice.” One of my favorites I call Steve the jerk [chuckles]. One of my clients actually came up with this. She had a co-worker that she called Steve the jerk. It wasn’t even his real name, but that was her name for him. And she said, “You know, it always catches my attention when Steve the jerk walks by my desk – and he does this several times a day – because it is emotionally arousing to her.” She’s like, “Oh, there’s that guy again.” So he turns that negative experience into something really powerful for her, and that was, “When Steve the jerk walks by my desk, then I’m gonna practice my mindfulness practice.”

LAURIE DUPAR Well, I love that. I love this. Yeah. Great. I love it.
CASEY DIXON That was a way for her to develop autopilot. She didn’t have to negotiate, or think about when she was going to do it.
LAURIE DUPAR That’s terrific! That’s a great piece of this. It’s such an important step in this developing the mindfulness. So this developing the autopilot was the “when I, then I”. What’s next?
CASEY DIXON After you have your as-if plan and you’ve practiced and developed your autopilot cues, you want to go through a couple of days of actually doing it. And sometimes tactics don’t work, right, as well as we’d like them to. So the third step is called “Tweak Your Tactics”. So it’s taking those plans and adjusting them a little bit. One of the things that can happen when you have ADHD is called “all or nothing thinking”. So I could get to this point in my mindfulness practice and say, “Hey, I made all these great plans and I gave myself some really mean cues that are working. And then all of a sudden, I stopped doing it, so I guess mindfulness just doesn’t work for me.” That’s an all or nothing way of approaching this.

So one of the things that I like to share is instead of throwing out the idea that this plan doesn’t work at all, is to tweak your tactics by asking yourself, is there one small adjustment that you can make to your plan to make it work better for you.

CASEY DIXON Those little tiny adjustments, I call them micro changes. So let’s make a little micro change or tiny adjustment to this plan, rather than throwing everything away. So some example of micro changes for mindfulness practice would be just simply changing the time of the day that you’re trying to meditate, choosing a new practice that you want, going on to a different site and choosing a new guided practice, setting a new type of alarm or cue to remind yourself, hanging up a sign that wasn’t there before to increase the novelty factor [chuckles] which we know can help. So just making a little tiny micro change to see if you can get back into autopilot.
LAURIE DUPAR I love this, absolutely love this. And I’m not sure if you were going to share this or not Casey, but I remember when you were creating, sort of developing this autopilot. You told me about something that you started to do when you would let your dog out or your dog had to go out at night. And I thought this was great because I would never have thought about it. So, do you mind just sharing that with the listeners?
CASEY DIXON No, that would be fun. This is my dog Olive who, of course you know a lot about, because I talk about her constantly. But when I take her out at night to do her business before we go to bed, that’s my cue. So when Olive goes outside at night, I go with her. And I’ll do this if it’s hailing. It doesn’t matter snowing, raining. It doesn’t matter what time of year. It’s a time for me that happens every single night, so she’s a very reliable cue. When she goes out, I go out there with her and I take a moment to look up at the sky which is sort of a grounding mindfulness activity and I do my mindfulness exercise which, for me, is an intentional breathing exercise. We have an exercise like it on MindfulADD – it’s called Elevator Practice where you’re using a little bit of your body to move with your breath. To me, if I just do that everyday, then I have a solid mindfulness practice in for the day and I don’t have to do anything else.
LAURIE DUPAR Goodness. Thank you for sharing that by the way. I just love that, right? I love that Olive is your cue and that how you incorporate it. I just thought it’s a great example of developing this autopilot, so you talked about tweaking your tactics to reach your goal and I love the micro changes, and I love the language that you’ve come up with for, I hope they are enjoying it because I am. What about what after that? What might we want to be?
CASEY DIXON The fourth step of course for anybody with ADHD is to stick with it, I call this “Stay Motivated,” which is really, really hard. A lot of my clients will go through the steps of creating really good as we plan developing autopilot, tweaking their tactics and everything’s going really well for several weeks and then all the sudden hey I’m not doing that anymore, they get easily derailed, when they are developing habits, and so you want be able to make sure that we are supporting them with step number four to stay motivated.

Staying motivated when you have ADHD in my opinion has three parts. The first part is creating High Interest in something, right? When you’re interested in it, you’re more likely to follow through. The second part is having a sense of Urgency about something. That’s why people say, “If I have a deadline, I am going to do it.” And, the third part is including Other People in what you are trying to do.

So the three motivating factors are interest, urgency and other people. I call this my “ADHD Trifecta” for staying motivated.

CASEY DIXON So that’s something you can do for mindfulness around staying motivated is just generating curiosity. You can create motivation by using these trifecta elements on purpose. So you can go on and read about mindfulness and the benefits of it. You can talk to another person about it. You can join a local meditation, mindfulness, or yoga class. You can reward yourself with an immediate, tangible reward for meditating. You can enlist a mindfulness study, which would be somebody that you can talk with about your practice, who might go to class with you, or join membership group, or download an app, who can be your partner in your goal to be more mindful. One of my clients came up with a fantastic way to stay motivated, which included a lot of these elements – her son actually lived in Seattle and she lives in Pennsylvania, which is where I am, and every time she did her mindfulness practice, she would just text him a smiley face. This was an amazingly powerful way to stay motivated because it was an immediate, tangible reward, right? She pushed a button on her phone right while she’s doing it. It created this amazing log of her practices that she could look back when she’s in his text string and see all those smiley faces rewarding her for doing that practice and she had the other person, her son, who was also supporting her in this goal. So it was a win, win, win in terms of staying motivated.
LAURIE DUPAR Wow, that’s brilliant. What a great example. Yeah. I love that.
CASEY DIXON She came up with that one all on her own [laughter].
LAURIE DUPAR Right? We with ADHD, we will come up with the most creative, crazy solutions to that. I love that. That’s a great example of how to stay motivated, how to use other people, incorporating other people, because we sometimes think it has to be somebody that’s right there with us. And that’s a great example of someone that was really important to her, she felt supported by, and they didn’t have to be there to do that. But yet there was that feedback. Yeah.
CASEY DIXON Right. And he doesn’t even have to give her feedback, other than to say, “Yes, I will accept that.” I will receive those smiley faces, and every now and again I’ll probably say, “Hey Mom, I’m really proud of you.”
LAURIE DUPAR Right [laughter]. Well hey, just speaking as a mom, that’s all it takes, really Casey so.
CASEY DIXON That’s right. [laughter].
LAURIE DUPAR What about this piece of urgency? So I’m still looking at that one when it comes to motivation. Have I just missed something?
CASEY DIXON No. I think it’s important and I’m glad you asked that. Sometimes I call this, “Looming Disaster.” People with ADHD really can focus if there’s a disaster looming, right?

All of a sudden their prefrontal cortex gets flooded with Dopamine – and bam! – they’re totally focused and attentive.

And, this is why deadlines are so important and sort of crisis is a fun place for them to live if they’re not living there all the time and creating stress, so I think when you’re trying to create urgency on purpose, you’re doing things like I’m going to schedule a time to meet somebody to do my class with me, because now I have an appointment if I don’t show up I’m creating a looming disaster and disappointing that person or well I have stop what I’m doing and get out of the house and go do it.

CASEY DIXON This creates that little mini sense of urgency but if I was doing it and I didn’t plan to meet somebody I might just easily choose to say you know what I’m focused on what I’m doing now and I’m not going to stop, and I’m just going to forgo doing what I think will be the self-supportive thing that I have designed for myself. Just telling people that you’re doing something helps to increase that sense of urgency about it. Doing something with somebody, going to a class, having a deadline and these are things that you can do on purpose that creates a sense of urgency. I actually had one of my members of MindfullyADD say to me, which I thought was pretty interesting, she said, “I’m actually glad this is a membership site, but there is a little tiny fee that you have to pay to belong.” She said, “Because I pay that fee, that creates a sense of urgency around going on the site and actually doing the practices.” And I thought that was a really interesting way of looking at that, that I hadn’t thought of.
LAURIE DUPAR Absolutely. I think it really points out that for different people the urgency is there. But for her it worked and it’s a great example maybe for somebody else it would work knowing. Speaking of your mindfulness group that you have, one of the things that people get the benefit of are, is that being able to do this with other people, right?
CASEY DIXON Absolutely. Just talking about it, commenting on it, knowing that there’s a community of people with ADHD who are all trying to develop the mindfulness habit for themselves, is really important.
LAURIE DUPAR What are some of the changes – it’s a question just popped in my head – that you see, or that you’ve witnessed, or heard about, or noticed with a client when they are in this practice of mindfulness? What are some of the changes that you’ve noticed happen for them?
CASEY DIXON It’s really interesting, because even though I read the research – because you know I’m sort of a research person – and I like to have the lists of “Here’s all the benefits of mindfulness”. But it’s so surprising to me, even after reading those benefits, when my clients come back and they say, “Wow, I’m really noticing X, Y, and Z.” Sometimes it just blows my mind. I had one guy who said, “This is really helping me when I go into meetings at work.” One of the things that we were working on together in coaching is trying to really listen and pay attention and remember things that are going on in his professional meetings and then being able to act on them later on, and he was having a really hard time with that. And he really attributes his ability to do that now to his mindfulness practice, which was not a result that I was particularly looking for or expecting. So you’ll see things like that.
CASEY DIXON I have another person who said he feels less emotionally reactive. So he’s getting along better at home with his wife and his kids, and he’s more patient, less frustrated. I had somebody else say they made it through cleaning out their email inbox because they felt like they had done [laughter] their mindfulness practice. It could be really nitty-gritty stuff. [laughter]
LAURIE DUPAR Nitty-gritty is important.
CASEY DIXON  Right, nitty-gritty, but important.
LAURIE DUPAR Yes, yes. Yeah. Wow, so because the practices you outlined, I know there’s a lot more, and by the way, we’re going to talk in just a minute about how people can get a hold of you. Even just these few steps could help someone, like you said, sort of start to be curious about it. Also, every time I listen to you, I develop mindful fitness. I don’t necessarily have to be mindfully fit. And it’s really just starting with, perhaps, one thing, and creating that autopilot around that. I love that little word as far as trying to get in the habit of creating something. It can apply in a lot of different ways that we may not even know about. Everything from satisfaction to work, like this gentleman said, being able to somehow create some sort of grounding to help with emotional dysregulation that a lot of people experience. Also, get through some of these tasks that can feel dreadful otherwise.
CASEY DIXON Exactly, that’s a great word for it.
LAURIE DUPAR So I want to make sure that people know how to get a hold of you. Before we do that, though, I wonder if you have any last-minute suggestions or tips or thoughts about mindfulness for the listeners? Then, we’ll talk about the bonus that you’re sharing, which is just terrific, and also how to get a hold of you. So, any last-minute thoughts that you’d like to share with the listeners about mindfulness?
CASEY DIXON Sure. I think that one of the things that I’ve run into, because I’m been working in this mindfulness for ADHD for a couple of years now, is, I keep saying, people just need to let go of their preconceived ideas of what this looks like. It’s not sitting in a lotus position at the top of a mountain, with the sun setting, and you’re in your perfect yoga clothes, and you feel so blissful, and your mind is blank. It really doesn’t have anything to do with that. In order for people with ADHD to benefit from a mindfulness practice, I think it’s really important for them to say, we can start with really short little practices, lots of variety, where you’re moving, you’re at your desk, you’re in your car, not on top of the mountain. You don’t even have to sit still. [laughter]

Changing your expectations from what the media portrays about what mindfulness is, and learning a little bit about what it could be for you in doing it in your own unique way, I think is probably the most important thing to take away from this if you’re trying to use mindfulness to help alleviate some of your ADHD stressors.

LAURIE DUPAR Great. Well put Casey, that’s great advice and I love it. You don’t have to be sitting on the top of the mountain that you can be moving around and taking the dog out to do their business. At night–
CASEY DIXON Exactly [chuckles].
LAURIE DUPAR So tell the listeners a little bit about the bonus ebook that you have. I believe it’s called ‘Four Steps to Mindfulness.’
LAURIE DUPAR Okay. Just a little bit about that so people know when they upgrade to the ADHD Success Kit. That this is what they’ll be getting with that.
CASEY DIXON So it’s a downloadable ebook. It’s a short, very easy quick-read that talks about what mindfulness is and using these four steps. Using as if planning, developing autopilot, tweaking your tactics and staying motivated. So there are a couple of other mindfulness tips in there that we didn’t cover today in our resources page so that if you want to continue to develop your curiosity towards this habit, there’s sort of other places to look.
LAURIE DUPAR Wonderful. Thank you so much for that, Casey and for joining me today and taking your time to do that. How can people get a hold of you? What’s the best way?
CASEY DIXON I think the best way is through my website which is www.dixonlifecoaching.com. So that’s D-I-X-O-N, lifecoaching.com. I also have another website of course that I mentioned which is MindfullyADD.com. You can get to that website from the dixonlifecoaching site. There’s a link at the top. So if you only want to look for one place, that’s the place to do it. I also always want to encourage people to look me up on Twitter and Facebook because I have a really pretty active social media feed on MindfullyADD. I’m always putting out new stuff about mindfulness and ADHD on there.
LAURIE DUPAR That’s wonderful. Thank you so much, Casey again for coming and sharing these four steps to mindfulness with us. Sounds like your ebook has even more great suggestions for them. So I appreciate you putting that into out bonus gift that people can get a hold of. Like Casey said, dixonlifecoaching.com or MindfullyADD.com. Thank you again, Casey, for joining us.
CASEY DIXON Thank you.
LAURIE DUPAR Yes. And thank you, everyone, for listening in to this particular segment. And call and stay tuned because you know there’s more coming. And I will see you on the next call. Bye-bye, Casey. Bye everyone.

To get your own copy of the Four Steps to Mindfulness downloadable eBook, click here:



Leave a Reply