How teenagers cope with stress by using Transcendental Meditation

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Dr William Stixrud, Neuropsychologist from Washington D.C, describes how Transcendental Meditation helps children and teens cope with stress.

Dr William Stixrud: I'm a clinical Neuropsychologist and I spend a good part of my time involved in testing and accessing kids, teenagers and young adults who have learning disabilities, attention problems, neurological problems, emotional behavioral problems and trying to figure out what's working well and what's not working well and how to help them. I lecture and write a lot about the effects of stress on the developing brain.

Question: How does stress effect a child's brain?

Dr William Stixrud: I think there is a lot of interest in this idea that the adolescent brain is very underdeveloped - it's very unlike an adult brain. The interesting thing about that is that it has all kinds of potential for development and at the same time developing brain systems are more vulnerable. The developing brain is more vulnerable to various chemicals, injury, accidents. And so there are all these things in modern life that have a terrible effect on the developing brain including drugs and alcohol, including the chronic sleep deprivation that we see in teenagers, including the chronic stress that we see effecting both kids in elite schools who want to be elite students going to an elite college and kids at the most poor and poverty stricken schools where kids stress levels are three times but they are the general population.

We know that when we get stressed the parts of the brain that allow you to think clearly basically get shut down because in a real emergency if you're being attacked, you don't want to stop and think, if you over think that's dangerous. So nature has programmed us so that when we start to feel stressed, which means we start to feel threatened or start to feel that we could be embarrassed or hurt, we're behind on something or worried about something. When we start to feel stressed we're supposed to respond instinctively which means that we can't think clearly, we can't organize our thinking, we can't put things in perspective and so it's a very dangerous situation for kids and teenagers who are trying learn and trying to develop and sculpt brains that work well. That can see things in perspective and that can see the big picture of life, that have a positive attitude and can be optimistic. If they're stressed and tired all the time because the brain doesn't work that way.

Question: How does Transcendental Meditation help children cope with stress?

Dr William Stixrud: In my experience Transcendental Meditation is really good for the developing brain. I talk about Transcendental Meditation because in my experience that teenagers can do it very easily and when they do it, when they do it just ten minutes twice a day but the experience is that the actually have a center, they actually have a core of peacefulness and happiness inside them that they can access. The more they do it, the more they find they are less reactive to stress, when they do get stressed it goes away faster. They generally sleep better, find it easier to eat, get through life and it's what kids simply need antidotes to these tremendous stressers, including the drugs and alcohol, sleep deprivation"

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