Extensive scientific research has shown that the Transcendental Meditation technique settles the mind and body and lowers stress levels in students, who learn more easily after the practice.
by Global Good News staff writer
1 August 2011
Dr Norman Rosenthal, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School and author of the new, bestselling book, Transcendence, tells us, ‘There’s a tremendous amount of evidence that the children in our schools today are under a lot of stress. Whether you’re talking about inner-city school children who come to school through violent neighbourhoods or more affluent school children who are under academic stress, social pressures, 70% of distressed children are not getting the mental health care that they need.’
Cognitive Learning Specialist, Sarina Grosswald, EdD, relates that children from families who had relocated after hurricane Katrina started having behavioural problems in school. Their difficulties in the classroom, she feels, were due to post-traumatic stress disorder.
Any stress, Dr William Stixrud, clinical neuropsychologist in Washington, DC, explains, triggers a fight or flight response. When the stress is overwhelming to children, it is because ‘life gave them more than their nervous system could handle.’
If, for example, a child sees a negative situation on the way to school, the effects linger. Even in the safety of the school, Dr Rosenthal points out, the stress and anxiety remain and affect the child’s ability to focus and attend to his schoolwork.
Dr Stixrud elucidates on the importance of feeling a sense of safety. He explains that if children lack a safe feeling, the parts of the brain which protect them will keep working, shutting down those parts of the brain needed for thinking, focusing, and learning on a higher level.
As Dr Rosenthal appreciates from his professional experience: ‘The bottom line is, a stressed child cannot learn.’
Students overcome stress through a simple, enjoyable technique
Drs Rosenthal, Grosswald, and Stixrud are all familiar with a programme which has been successfully used worldwide to de-stress students. They speak of the effects of Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Technique on children.
Dr Rosenthal says, ‘What we know about Transcendental Meditation is that it reduces stress—not just because we see it, but because we can measure it.’ He is referring to the extensive scientific research (more than 600 studies conducted at 250 independent universities and research institutions in 33 countries) on the technique which show reductions in psychological distress; lower stress and anxiety resulting in reduced symptoms of ADHD; decreased absenteeism, suspensions, and rule infractions in adolescents; greater academic achievement, and improved brain functioning to list just a few of the benefits of the programme.
Dr Rosenthal emphasizes the changes in the brain. ‘There is more alpha wave strength, which means a more calming effect, and there’s more coherence, which means that the brain is working more efficiently.’
Dr Stixrud notes, ‘They [school children] report that they can learn better’ as a result of practising the Transcendental Meditation Technique. ‘They can organize information better when their stress level is lower,’ he adds.
Dr Grosswald, who has worked extensively with the Transcendental Meditation Programme and children, including many with ADHD, reports, ‘Children respond very well to Transcendental Meditation. It provides a mechanism for them to be able to manage themselves, to be able to deal with the stress, to be able to be clearer thinking.’
‘What TM can do,’ Dr Rosenthal ties it all together, ‘is settle down the nervous system to de-stress these children so that their minds are now open and available to being educated and to learning.’
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