The aim of mindfulness isn’t to calm to body or the mind and yet it is that’s the effect and the benefit of meditation for students with special needs such as autism and attention-deficit disorders.
Probably, the biggest benefit of meditation for the children is that when they begin to learn how to control their anxiety and stress, even to some degree, they can begin to reduce their medications.
In this story, by Kristin Homes, the question of meditation and the challenges faced by different special-needs students is told. So I’ll leave Kristin to it…
“Brandon Heinz, an eighth grader in the Bristol Township School District, told occupational therapist Charles E. Gallagher that he had been asked to sit still “millions of times.”
The problem is that it’s not always easy.
For Brandon, 14, and his classmates – students with autism, attention-deficit disorders, or other special needs – controlling signs of anxiety is often a struggle.
So Gallagher made a suggestion: Breathe.
“In through your nose, and out through your mouth,” he instructed. Then, he said, let out a big sigh.
Gallagher went on to teach the students meditation techniques to help them cope when frustration threatens to overwhelm.
Students with conditions such as autism and attention- deficit disorders have difficulty reading the social cues of language, voice, and behavior and consequently might react in ways that appear inappropriate. They also can experience high levels of anxiety.
“They feel out of control,” said JoAnn Allison, the district’s supervisor of special education. “A lot of the strategies we have are to help them feel they have control of their environments and themselves.”
Gallagher, who has studied a treatment approach known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, fit in perfectly, Allison said.
Mindfulness is a concept that means “paying attention on purpose in the present moment without judgment,” said Gallagher, who has trained at the Mindfulness Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Meditative exercises such as deep breathing help practitioners pay attention to the reactions of the body and mind in stressful moments, said Don McCown, a faculty member at the Mindfulness Institute. Once those reactions are recognized, the person can work toward controlling them.
Meditation also can help youngsters control their anxiety enough to reduce any medications they are taking, said Christina DiNicola, a pediatrician with the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson.
Early studies show promising results in youngsters with attention-deficit disorders who use yoga and biofeedback to relax, DiNicola said.
This year, Allison invited Gallagher, a therapist at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, to lead a 30-minute session on meditation.
At the school, Gallagher talked with students in three classes – first and second graders, third and fourth, and fifth to eighth.
Students ran quickly throughout the room, and then in slow motion in exercises designed to get them to notice differences in their body when moving quickly and moving slowly. Gallagher clinked a meditation bell to signal when to stop and go.
He taught them about breathing deeply while standing up and while sitting down with their hands on their belly. He taught them to focus on sounds in their surroundings.
“How do you feel?” Gallagher asked the class of older students.
“My body feels more calm,” said Zachary Ford, 10. “My face feels like it loosened up.”
In the class of third and fourth graders, Christine Smeltzer, 8, said her body felt like she wanted to take a nap.
Christine said she might use the techniques outside the classroom during times when she’s frustrated.
That means when “kids are telling me what to do or bullying my friends,” she said. The breathing would help her feel “calm.”
Mindfulness meditation can reduce stress and that benefit alone is a very powerful tool for children that often feel out of control. Helping the children feel more in control happens as they start to become aware and pay attention to their bodies and mind in moments of stress, the great thing is that the awareness grows as a natural ‘side–effect,’ it’s the benefit of meditation. Click here to visit the original source of this post
It turns out that the number one meditation health benefit, stress reduction, could save us $300 billion a year, because that is the estimated cost of stress-related problems to our economy. And I have to think, three hundred billion is as about as real a meditation benefit, as you can get.
Almost every different type of meditation can be used as a meditation technique for stress. Whether you use mindfulness meditation exercises or transcendental mantra meditation techniques, breath meditation or walking meditation, they are all going to help alleviate the negative effects of stress.
Here’s an interesting post on this subject and maybe it will help reduce your stress, and it’s sure to be enlightening, because it’s written by Ed and Deb Shapiro. Enjoy…ﾠ
“All of this would be fine if we had a bear to hunt or a war to wage. However, the stress most of us are dealing with is not from life-or-death situations, but is the distress that arises from an accumulation of pressure from much smaller issues. And although each separate incident may appear benign, if our response becomes increasingly stressful and we are no longer able to maintain our equilibrium then the body will put out the red alert. The stress response is activated when we are unable to adjust our behavior or deal creatively with demanding circumstances; we soon feel overwhelmed, like a steam cooker coming to full pressure. We are the only one who can turn down the heat, but unfortunately we usually feel powerless to do so.
When there is no animal to hunt or war to fight in which to release the energy accumulating inside us, where does it go? Is it difficult to believe that ulcers or irritable bowel syndrome are connected to high stress levels, that we might get constipation, diarrhea or lose our appetite? What happens to the urge to scream, to lash out, to find release from the tension? Is it surprising that marriages suffer, or that alcohol and food addiction is rising?
Few of us like to think of ourselves as stressed, we prefer to think of stress as what happens to others, without realizing how susceptible we may be ourselves. The most comprehensive study of the causes of stress was done by Drs. Holmes and Rahe at the University of Washington. They based their findings on the level of adjustment required for different circumstances, as the inability to adequately adjust is most likely to stimulate the stress response.ﾠ Their Social Readjustment Scale placed the death of a spouse as the most difficult circumstance to adapt to, followed by divorce or separation. In more recent studies, money problems and work/unemployment issues are being rated more highly. To that list we must also add environmental stressors, such as pollution, traffic, noise, and increased population.
What must be remembered, however, is that as we all respond differently to circumstances, a divorce may be high on the list of stressors for one person but it may be a welcome relief to another! Our perception of the circumstances and of how well we can cope is the vital factor. For although we may have little or no control over the circumstances or stressors we are dealing with, we do have control over our understanding of the situation, and over our response. Remember: we cannot stop the wind but we can adjust our sails. Although changing our circumstances certainly can help, it may be only temporary. Invariably, no matter where we go or what we do, the change that is the most effective is within ourselves.”
We all deal with conflicting situations throughout our day, the meditation benefit, is that we can deal with those situations without feeling of anxiety, fear, without raising our blood pressure or releasing adrenalin. ﾠﾠ
Meditation makes us more aware of our perceptions, reactions and behavior, and with that increased awareness, comes the ability to recognize the onset of the stress response and consciously move into the relaxation response instead. ﾠﾠClick here to visit the original source of this post