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Experts explain benefits of Transcendental Meditation for ADHD
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15 April 2008
The new interactive website 'ASK THE DOCTORS' (www.DoctorsOnTM.org), among many valuable features, includes the expert knowledge of top medical doctors and scientists, who answer questions from the public about the use of the Transcendental Meditation Programme to prevent specific diseases and promote health and longevity.
Following are excerpts from an extensive, in-depth series of comments posted on the site by three experts, answering questions about the beneficial effects of Transcendental Meditation in alleviating learning and attention problems in school children and adults—notably in ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
William Stixrud, PhD, is a clinical neuropsychologist and director of William Stixrud & Associates in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, a group practice specializing in learning, attention, and social/emotional disorders. Dr Stixrud is an adjunct faculty at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC.
Sarina Grosswald, EdD, is an expert in cognitive learning who recently directed the first-of-its-kind research study on the effects of the Transcendental Meditation Programme on children with language-based learning disabilities. Dr Grosswald and her work have been extensively featured in the national media in the United States, including PBS and ABC News.
James Krag, MD, is a Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, president of the Psychiatric Society of Virginia, and former president of the Virginia Association of Community Psychiatrists for four years. He is currently Medical Director of Liberty Point, a residential treatment programme for adolescents with psychiatric problems.
Q: I had ADHD as a child, and still have trouble focusing on any sort of work. Will practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique help me focus better?
Dr Grosswald: 'Yes, based on our research, it will. The Transcendental Meditation technique works for both adults and for children. It's easy to learn and to do, and it doesn't require concentration, or focus, or attention. At the same time, it increases the ability to focus outside of meditation, because it enhances brain functioning. When your eyes are closed and you're meditating, the brain connections related to attention and focus actually increase. Then when your eyes are open and you are in activity, focus and concentration are better.
'Many symptoms of ADHD are actually the result of stress; stress shuts down the pre-frontal cortex in the brain, making concentration and focus difficult. Reducing stress increases your attention, focus, and concentration—as well as the ability to act calmly and to feel more relaxed and comfortable in stressful situations.
'In our research with children, we found a 20% improvement in attention in just three months after starting the Transcendental Meditation program. There were also significant improvements in working memory and organization, as well as psychosocial measurements of behavior, anxiety, stress, attention, and focus.'
Dr Krag: 'Anyone with longstanding problems with ADHD knows that when they are rested and calm they have fewer ADHD symptoms than when they are tired and anxious. Since TM helps create a calm and stable state, it clearly can help reduce the problems of ADHD.'
Q: Is there other research indicating that the Transcendental Meditation technique can help with ADHD?
Dr Stixrud: 'Most researchers think ADHD is a disorder of multiple executive functions. ''Executive functions'' refers to the functions of the front part of the brain; the mental control and the mental organizational skills that you need to carry out purposeful behavior. When you have to get something done, for instance, you need to be able to plan, to organize, and to hold relevant information in your memory. You also need to self-monitor, to ask yourself, ''How's it going?''
'And there's good evidence in several hundred studies on Transcendental Meditation that it improves every one of these executive functions. This is probably, at least in part, because the Transcendental Meditation technique increases the coherence of brain functioning, and in part because it reduces stress, which makes all these other things worse.'
Click here for more questions and answers on the website about ADHD and the Transcendental Meditation Technique .
© Copyright 2008 American Association of Physicians and Scientists Practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique
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