Finding self-compassion through the unknown
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is described as an executive functioning disorder impacting an area of the brain that controls organizing skills to problem-solve. It can present as impulsivity/hyperactivity, and inattentive behavior impairing personal, social, and work life (Saviet & Ahmann, 2020). My aim in this research was to explore how depth and transpersonal psychology methods effect the living experience of individuals with ADHD. I chose a heuristic inquiry approach to delve into the experiences and transformation I have had and continue to have, and those of five research participants, who, per the heuristic inquiry protocol, I refer to as co-researchers (Sultan, 2019).
Thematic analysis of interviews and shared artifacts illuminated six core themes presented under the Results below. The study highlights insights gained in how depth and transpersonal methods can foster a compassionate and aware self-belief system and offer holistic strength-based support to individuals who are diagnosed or self-identify with ADHD.
Grounding the research within daily context, society at large is struggling. The world shut down amidst a global pandemic, baring doors and limiting people’s access to each other and their loved ones. Millions of lives were and continue to be lost from Covid. Climate crisis continues to rise, unearthing the planet’s inhabitants and political unrest feels like it’s ripping out hearts and ejecting souls. If you did not feel distracted before the last few years, might you now? And what about those who already struggle with a neurodiverse mind? Alongside the personal struggles that will inevitably occur for each of us, how is anyone not to be distracted by the public assault on freedom and justice in what feels like daily succession? It is my belief engaging depth and transpersonal inner-work holds the steady answer.
Depth and Transpersonal Psychology
Depth and Transpersonal psychology methods offer a whole person-oriented approach based in techniques such as dreamwork, imagination, somatics, creativity, ritual, and Open Awareness (Dangeli, 2020); as well as intuition, meditation, shamanic practices, engaging with nature, and mindful physical practices like yoga (Capuzzie & Stauffer, 2016). They are based in theories that one can transcend states and look beyond the ego to the unconscious to support the person holistically by focusing on a growth mindset and ease limiting beliefs (Bright, 2020, & Geldenhuys, email communication, January 20, 2022, Heron, 1998).
Heuristic Inquiry was developed by Clark Moustakas in the early sixties. The origin of the word finds its roots in the Greek word heuriskein, meaning “to discover or to find” and was created to explore everyday experiences (Moustakas, 1990, p. 9). It is an autobiographical approach to the shared ongoing experiences of the researcher and the co-researchers who have a personal connection to the topic (Moustakas, 1990; Sultan, 2019). The research is elevated through creative exercises like journaling and artistic expression to embody, synthesize, and integrate the research in new ways and dig into the edges of what is being collectively experienced (Sultan, 2019).
Co-researchers were an international group of two males and three females with a twenty-year age span between 36 to 56 years old. Employing the power of imagination, each coresearcher is represented in Figure 1 with their pseudonym and chosen symbol for how they see themselves today and incorporated into the data.
Six core themes emerged from the data:
· A Connection to The Body
· External Manifestations of Change - representing how each co-researcher shows up in the world, their daily actions and patterns, and feelings about engaging with others. As well as tangible actions that point to aligning with new values.
· Inner-Self Transformation - described as a resounding echo of experiencing self-awareness, self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-confidence. Some explained it as a return to the self, self-forgiveness, healing the inner-child, and transforming negative self-talk to positive.
· Living In New Relationship with Dis-Ease - is woven throughout each co-research’s history and experience. We all have struggles but it is how we live with the discomfort and challenges that transforms our lives from a lens of limiting belief to one of empowerment.
· Mindfulness – and meditation were unanimous in their transformative effects on all co-researcher’s living experience. What was brought to light is their ability to carry mindfulness into other areas such as outward actions, habits, and a universal perspective.
· States of Transcendence – Co-researchers experienced feelings such as a connection to a higher consciousness, being part of a recovery community that operates on a spiritual wavelength, feelings of awakening, and feeling expanded states of awareness to a universal consciousness.
Implications of Results
Ideas for future strength-based ADHD support can be lifted from the findings, links, and bibliography and used as a springboard for personal development, in interpersonal and emotional dynamics, and in group settings. Another possible direction is to offer a depth and transpersonal wellbeing curriculum/program in schools and businesses by integrating it into existing health programs or by creating positions for a wellbeing officer or guide.
Three ideas for future studies are:
· A case study or grounded theory study on the effects of transpersonal psychology coaching on ADHD.
· A mixed-method collaborative and inclusive study exploring the implications of a new strength-based acronym to replace ADHD, giving voice to those affected by the acronym.
· A mixed-method collaborative and inclusive grounded theory study exploring an affordable and sustainable offering of depth and transpersonal psychology methods to a broader range of ADHD communities.
What stands out in the research is there are multiple depth and transpersonal methods to inspire: inner-self transformation, a connection to the body, external manifestations of change, ways of bringing mindfulness into daily activities, achieving states of transcendence, and living in new relationship with dis-ease. I and my co-researchers are constantly walking the meandering path towards that which is a safe and sacred home within us. It is a never-ending journey of leaving and returning to that place which makes us feel we are enough, we are seen, held, loved, and able. The findings show depth and transpersonal methods offer a way to explore new insights and opportunities for the integration of our experiences along the way.
Links and Further Reading to Explore:
Open Awareness: http://www.innerheal.co.za/open-awareness/
Sandra Ingerman explains shamanic journeying: https://youtu.be/nQYvFvmkvvU
Bright, B. (2021). The psychological foundations of transpersonal coaching: Why and how it works. In J. Dangeli (Ed.), The Transpersonal Coaching Handbook (2nd ed., pp. 138-155).
Dängeli, J. (2020). Exploring the phenomenon of open awareness and its effects on stress and burnout. Consciousness, Spirituality & Transpersonal Psychology, 1, 76-91. https://www.journal.aleftrust.org/index.php/cstp/article/view/9
Capuzzi, D., & Stauffer, M. D. (2016). Counseling and psychotherapy: Theories and interventions (Sixth edition. ed.). American Counseling Association.
Geldenhuys, H. (January 20, 2022). Email Communication
Moustakas, C. (1990). Heuristic research: Design, methodology, and applications. Sage Publications.
Saviet, M., & Ahmann, E. (2020). Communication modalities in coaching for individuals with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): A qualitative examination. International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring, 18(1), 103-122. DOI: http://www.doi.org/10.24384/pmth-g573
Sultan, N. (2019). Heuristic inquiry: Researching human experience holistically. SAGE Publications, Inc. https://www.doi.org/10.4135/9781071802632