Little gets me excited in psychiatric literature… but this did: A Harvard MRI study of people practicing mindfulness-meditation techniques shows increased thickness in the gray matter of the brain’s cortex. The brain areas that got thicker involved attention and emotional regulation. Why is this so important? Those are the two most common complaints – the two most common justifications – for putting more and more children on medications. I hear it too, in my office everyday. He isn’t focusing, he’s too distracted, he’s behaviorally impulsive. She’s overwhelmed, and gets so worried and depressed.
So – stop for a moment (as you would in any mindfulness technique) and focus on this post. Don’t just click off and go into the next, and the next. Let this get absorbed. Let this sink in. It could change your life and your child’s life.
It’s time to get all kids practicing simple mind-body techniques. A few minutes everyday would do it. These techniques are easy to learn, they feel good and are cost-effective (don’t cost a dime), can improve physical health, and now, as studies are starting to show, improve brain, behavior, and emotional functions.
How simple? Start with taking a few breaths, close your eyes, or stare off onto something that pleases you. Think of nothing else. Hold onto that feeling as long as possible. You just experienced mindfulness!
So it’s time to get ahead of the curve. This is where the latest brain science is headed. There are enough studies emerging now to seriously consider these (often ancient) techniques as essential, like good nutrition, exercise, and getting enough sleep. These techniques are being taken more seriously as an effective alternative to the use of chemical psychiatric agents. As always, consult with physicians you trust before starting (or stopping) any prescribed medication. Get second opinions too. But, remember, medications aren’t the only – or necessarily the best – way to get the brain into a healthier state.
Modern life has eroded many of the basic rituals and behaviors that keep us sane and balanced. It’s time we brought them back! These include daily healthy physical movement, being outdoors more, securing moments to reflect and relax free of technology, and engage in positive (real) social contact instead of the often competitive and negative (virtual) contact we get exposed to on social media. Mindfulness and meditation are a part of these healthy life habits.
The promise here is profound, but real. Engage in daily practices and sound behaviors that keep you and your family on the road to health – and yes – happiness!
Please contact Dr. Rao about reproducing any material found on these pages.