(Stillness in the Storm Editor) Speaking as someone who was diagnosed with ADD back in the late 1980s, I can share from personal experience just how destructive such a label can be. And after studying psychology and consciousness for many years, it seems that the whole issue can be boiled down to this: are we raising children to be who they were meant to be or are we training them to be what society needs?
I was always a hyperactive kid, and I was fortunate to have parents that fed my curiosity with hours of conversation and discussion. During those moments, my focus was laser sharp, and my attention and imagination was completely consumed by visions of life, the universe, and everything. I was so fascinated by the world and everything in it. But then one day I had to start school, and everything changed.
Sitting in a room looking at workbooks and listening to the teacher talk about things I didn’t take an interest in was maddening. I just couldn’t sit still, was always talking out of turn, and felt abandoned by my parents who left me in this torturous place. As a result, I was an unruly, hard-to-manage child in class, and I came home with the same resentment. My teachers hated me, and I can understand why—I didn’t want to be there and acted that way. So the school suggested I get on ADD medication, Ritalin.
As soon as I started taking the drug, a profound change took place. I wasn’t acting out anymore; I could sit in my chair quietly and never bother anyone else in the class. My teachers were overjoyed, but there was a problem. I was dead inside. That lust for life and endless energy to explore and play was gone; I was a shell of my former self. My parents weren’t happy but felt desperate, “Our son needs to go to school and learn, but he is like a vegetable now.” After a few weeks of this, they thankfully decided to take me off the medication, at the protest of my teachers. And the affect it had on me was lifelong, as I began to believe I wasn’t capable of learning. I actually thought I was too stupid and not a good enough kid—a toxic belief for anyone to have.
Years later, my parents shared with me that conditions in the school were the real problem. Despite the teachers best efforts, they were fighting nature, and losing. But instead of the education system stepping back and saying: “Look we have a serious problem; the way we are teaching kids is killing them from the inside, we need to change things!” they said: “Well, kids are unruly and can’t sit still to learn, so we’re going to give them drugs so they can do that.”
And this is where we find ourselves today, where most children, who don’t sit quietly like good little robots, are medicated into catatonia. And it’s becoming the norm—parents and teachers are actually starting to think playfulness and adventurousness are “problems” to be medicated away.
How did we get here?
Behavioral modification is a branch of psychology that has almost completely taken over every aspect of society. It contends that a person, with all their desires, longings, dreams, hopes, and visions, is nothing but a biological machine, an empty vessel for external conditioning. Within this school of thought, everything you think, do, and feel is a product of your environment, an artifact of biochemical interactions. There is no soul, no consciousness beyond biology, and most importantly, no free will.
Given that we see people as empty hard drives waiting to be programmed, it is no wonder why children are marginalized and their innate intelligence is downplayed at seemingly every turn. How this philosophy of behaviorism affects education is profound. Instead of failures in the system being linked to the methods we use to teach children—children themselves are to blame.
For example, we don’t—in the main—work with biology and eons of development when educating children. From the age of one to six, kids learn chiefly through play and imaginative interaction—by imbuing random objects with various imagined images that become dynamic characters in a child’s fantasies. This builds right-brain centers that are instrumental to empathy, perspective taking (the intellectual aspect of empathy), and holistic thinking—all crucially important for the more complex modes of thought that emerge later. Beginning at around the age of ten, the left-brain’s analytical and rational attributes begin to become active—and this is when abstract forms of education can be most effective, but not before.
This one aspect of child development, when compared with the education models in the First World, should highlight the fact that we don’t take advantage of nature. Abstract teaching methods, like learning math or reading about grammar in text books, is very difficult for children under the age of ten because their brains haven’t fully developed the capacity to think this way. Ask a child to count three apples on a table and they’ll quickly see it, ask them to count using only numbers without a real world example, and it is much more difficult.
The mind develops in stages, and in the beginning literal examples and real world scenarios—like bedtime stories, dramas, nursery rhymes, and so on—are much easier to understand. A child can more easily see why lying is not good when it is described in a story than it is to describe the principle of deception without a context. Children, and people in general, need context to understand principles of truth and how reality works at an abstract level. And finally, abstract thinking also requires a lot of mental energy and imagination, free from pressure to perform.
Placing a young child in a school room, where they are meant to sit quietly in a chair and learn abstract and often left-brain information is counter productive because this goes against their innate drive to explore and play.
In short, the way we teach our children is the problem, not the child itself. We can still teach them how to read, help them learn math, science, geography, and so on, but not by using abstract methods that require advanced left- and right-brain activity.
What happens when we try to teach kids in ways they aren’t capable of learning? They become unruly, emotional, and hard to manage.
If we can’t address the bigger issue of the educational system itself, then we can at least give children some tools to manage the pressure. Meditation is one such tool because it helps integrate left- and right-brain function, which current teaching methods hinder.
Instead of giving a child a drug to mask their internal mental and emotional conflicts, we can give them a lifelong tool to restore balance to their consciousness.
Despite the problems kids face the world today, there is hope, and we can help by being an example and practicing this ourselves. For having a balanced consciousness is an essential thing at any age.
by Alex Pietrowski, April 14th, 2017
Experts cannot agree on a single, simple definition of attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but do agree that it causes unfavorable behavior in educational, professional and correctional institutions. Even the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the bible of psychiatric diagnosis, defines it using a multiple choice test for an array of behavioral symptoms, demonstrating its clinical ambiguity.
Is a mental illness, or a learning disability? Is it environmental, or hereditary? Is ADHD curable, or not?
“It is best thought of as a description. If you look at how you end up with that label, it is remarkable because any one of us at any given time would fit at least a couple of those criteria.” ~Dr. Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D
Some bold physicians have even gone so far as to say that ADHD is a fictitious, fraudulent disease altogether.
“ADHD is fraud intended to justify starting children on a life of drug addiction.” ~Dr. Edward C. Hamlyn, a founding member of the Royal College of General Practitioners
“…after 50 years of practicing medicine and seeing thousands of patients demonstrating symptoms of ADHD, I have reached the conclusion there is no such thing as ADHD.” ~Dr Richard Saul
And some physicians openly admit to falsely diagnosing kids with ADHD. Not because they have an identifiable condition which can be properly treated with medication, but because they need to somehow improve the child’s behavior in order for the child to better adapt to the educational environment.
“Leading the way is Dr. Michael Anderson, a pediatrician in the Atlanta area. Incredibly, Anderson told the New York Times his diagnoses of ADHD are “made up,” “an excuse” to hand out the drugs.
“We’ve decided as a society that it’s too expensive to modify the kid’s environment. So we have to modify the kid,” Anderson said.” [Source]
While new ADHD drugs are being rolled out and industry profits swell, diagnoses of ADHD in America’s children also continue to rise dramatically, and now, even babies are being medicated to modify their behavior. The presumption among the medical establishment is that ADHD is best addressed with psychotropic drugs, in spite of the fact that evidence indicates ADHD drugs don’t help kids get better grades,
In 2016, an elementary school in West Baltimore made international news for replacing detention with meditation and reporting incredible results. Behavioral complaints against a student is typically the basis for referring a child to an ADHD specialist, and in this case, meditation improved overall behavior at the school.
“Instead of punishing them or sending them to the principal’s office, administrators will now be sending children to “the mindful moment room” where they will be able to meditate and wind down. The new policy has been in place for over a year, and in the time that the meditation room has been set up, there has actually been no suspensions throughout the entire year.” [Source]
In 2015, the David Lynch Foundation brought TM to 900 inmates in the Oregon State Correctional Institution. The results were impressive, with participants remarking on an improved quality of life, improved focus, and most importantly a feeling of peace, leading to less stress and more peace in an ordinarily difficult-to-manage environment.
Comparing meditation to medication, the following video from the David Lynch Foundation, shows how transcendental meditation is used experimentally in Kingsbury Day School in Washington, DC, a school for children with language-based learning disabilities. Twice a day the regular school program stops and the children meditate, using the TM method for just ten minutes, with incredible results, and without the use of pharmaceutical ADHD medications.
There are simple, natural ways of treating the broad and ambiguous array of behavioral issues we refer to as ADHD. Improving diet, tutoring, and increased physical exercise can all have a noticeable impact, however, meditation is coming into the forefront as one of the best natural treatments, as it can actually re-train the brain to concentrate and focus, thereby increasing performance and reducing frustration. After all, meditation is the practice of concentration, while ADHD is the lack thereof.
About the Author
Alex Pietrowski is an artist and writer concerned with preserving good health and the basic freedom to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. He is a staff writer for WakingTimes.com and Offgrid Outpost, a provider ofstorable food and emergency kits. Alex is an avid student of Yoga and life.
This article (Experiments With Meditation Expose the Fallacy of Medicating Kids for ADHD) was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Alex Pietrowski and WakingTimes.com. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution, author bio, and this copyright statement.
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