Transcendental Meditation Practice Alleviating ADHD in Caribbean Schools
NEW YORK, Aug. 23, 2013 — /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Select schools throughout the Caribbean island of Dominica have begun to employ the Transcendental Meditation® technique as a stress-management tool to help students reduce symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Teachers and parents have seen a noticeable improvement. But more important, research suggests that TM® practice may alleviate ADHD by actually changing the brain.
Better grades, less stress, improved happiness
Since January, Dr. Lucia John, director of the Dominica TM Center, has been teaching the TM technique to children in several towns, with positive feedback from students, parents, and teachers regarding the benefits for ADHD.
ADHD is a neurobehavioral disorder that can cause hyperactivity and difficulty focusing or controlling impulsive behaviors. The TM technique—an effortless meditation technique practiced while sitting comfortably with the eyes closed—may provide relief by enhancing brain integration.
“The results kids are reporting from TM practice include calmer, more collected minds; greater ability to focus; better memory; greater ability to do homework without distractions; and better relationships at home, at school, and with friends,” says Dr. John. “Teachers have also started noticing these positive changes. Parents are experiencing greater calm, more normal blood pressure, and greater happiness with their children.”
Changing the brain with TM
While these results are anecdotal, research indicates that there’s good reason to think that the TM technique is having an important and beneficial effect on the brains of the students.
In recent years certain brain wave patterns—specifically the ratio between theta and beta waves—have been consistently shown to be correlated with severity of ADHD symptoms. In July, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of a test to measure this ratio as a way of diagnosing whether children have ADHD. The test, the Neuropsychiatric EEG-Based Assessment Aid (NEBA) System, uses electroencephalography to measure the electrical impulses of the neurons in the brain.
While it’s not known exactly what causes high theta/beta ratios in children with ADHD, a 2011 study found that Transcendental Meditation practice decreases these theta/beta ratios in students with ADHD. The random-assignment controlled study published in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry (Vol. 2, No. 1) found that within three months of TM practice, the theta/beta ratios had significantly decreased, and after six months of TM practice, theta/beta ratios were within the normal range.
Integrating the brain with TM
Brain studies suggest that ADHD reflects a three-year delay in development of connection with the prefrontal cortex—the area of the brain responsible for planning and control of impulsive behavior. Fred Travis, Ph.D., lead author of the study, observed that TM practice leads to higher frontal blood flow and greater overall brain integration—the communication between the various parts of the brain is strengthened.
“We suggest that these brain changes as a result of TM practice enhance the delayed development of frontal executive control circuits, and so ADHD symptoms are progressively alleviated,” Dr. Travis says.
He said that although drugs commonly prescribed for ADHD may alleviate symptoms, they also seem to interfere with the brain’s normal development—such that the developmental delay in a child with ADHD may eventually become an ongoing impairment.
Improving the lives of children
Whatever the exact mechanism, educators are pleased with the changes they see in the children.
“A wide range of studies have documented the effect of practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique on the health, behavior, and well-being of children,” says Dr. John. “They return to respecting their parents, teachers and peers, and grow up to excel in whatever field of study they undertake. They enjoy greater ability to focus, inner happiness, better memory, and tolerance and improve their grades.”