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Offering a solution to the damaging effects of stress
by Global Good News staff writer
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11 April 2009
Half of the world's children live under highly stressful conditions—and chronic stress significantly impairs learning, mental health, and brain development, said Dr William Stixrud, a renowned clinical neuropsychologist specializing in the assessment and treatment of children and adolescents with learning, attention, and emotional disorders.
'It's true for the stressed-out, academically pressured kids at our most elite schools, and it's even more true for poor kids, who by the time they're six have twice the level of stress hormones in the bloodstream as more affluent kids,' he said, speaking at a recent major press conference* in New York City, USA.
Dr Stixrud, who is also an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University Medical School, explained that the optimal state for learning is relaxed alertness.
It's a common experience that when one is under stress it's difficult to think clearly and it is hard to focus. 'This is because when your fight or flight response is active—your stress-response is active in response to some perceived threat—you're supposed to respond instinctively, you aren't supposed to be able to think,' Dr Stixrud explained.
'Stress hormones actually shut down the parts of your brain that are required to learn, to pay careful attention, to think, and to remember,' he continued. Stress also reduces flexibility and creativity. So kids that are trying to learn under high stress, are doing so at significantly reduced mental capacity, he said.
'Because TM [Transcendental Meditation] produces a state of restful alertness, it's not surprising that meditating kids turn out to be very good learners,' Dr Stixrud stated.
The practice of the Transcendental Meditation Programme has been shown to create more orderly brainwave activity, faster processing speed, improved executive functions, and better academic performance, he said.
In the coming days Global Good News will feature the continuation of Dr Stixrud's talk, in which he discusses the benefits of Transcendental Meditation for children with ADHD and depression.
*Educators, doctors, and celebrities spoke at a 3 April press conference preceding the historic Paul McCartney benefit concert on 4 April at Radio City Music Hall, New York City, USA. The extraordinary achievements and goals of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace were presented at the press conference.
The 'Change Begins Within' benefit concert contributed funds to teach one million at-risk children Transcendental Meditation—giving them life-long tools to overcome stress and violence, and promote peace and success in their lives.
The concert was headlined by Paul McCartney, with special guests including Ringo Starr, Sheryl Crow, Eddie Vedder, Ben Harper, Moby, Paul Horn, Bettye LaVette, Donovan, and Jim James.
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