Can meditation ease ‘back-to-school blues’?

by Linda Mainquist on August 23, 2011

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Fall can be a stressful time for students, according to clinical psychologist and author Robert Puff, Ph.D., who writes for Psychology Today. He points out that with young people returning to school, parents need to be mindful of their children’s mental and physical health—and for that, a growing body of scientific research points to the power of meditation.

In a recent column Dr. Puff writes:

“Back-to-school can be both exciting and stressful. No doubt that [students] lives are busier than ever. Homework, extra curricular activities, social commitments, and maybe even part time jobs mean that the fall can signal the start of the high stress season. As a clinical psychologist in private practice, I’ve witnessed first hand the effects that today’s fast-paced lives have on my young clients. And I’ve also seen how stressed out sons and daughters make for equally anxious moms and dads.”

Dr. Puff recommends meditation and cites, as a prime example, a study conducted at the Medical College of Georgia on the effectiveness of the Transcendental Meditation program.

“Meditation is a natural tension buster. At first, the thought of successfully motivating our perpetually wired, A.D.D.-addled teens to regularly meditate may seem implausible. But a study in the American Journal of Hypertension proves that it’s not only possible, but it can also yield remarkable results.
The [research] team postulated that regular Transcendental Meditation (TM) would aid in stress reduction through decreasing subjects’ ambulatory blood pressure. TM, as you may know, is a widely practiced form of meditation that was made famous by the Beatles.
For four months, the teens meditated twice a day for 15 minutes. Afterwards, blood pressure results revealed that compared with the control group, those who practiced TM experienced a measurable decrease in daytime systolic and diastolic blood pressure and in daytime heart rate. In other words, meditation decreased stress and increased relaxation.
Similarly, meditation gives their minds time-off from constant mental activity. For proof, look up the numerous studies that measure the brainwaves of long-time meditators.”

Here are two studies that show how the TM program helps improve students’ brain functioning while decreasing stress:

1) A random-assignment, controlled study published in July 2011 in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry which found improved brain functioning and decreased symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, in students practicing the Transcendental Meditation (TM) technique.
2) A study published in the International Journal of Psychophysiology found that the practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique improved brain functioning and decreased students’ reactivity to stress.

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Excerpts from Dr. Puff’s blog in Psychology Today were taken from:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/meditation-modern-life/201108/how-meditation-can-ease-your-childs-back-school-blues

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