Can meditation reduce impulsiveness
Transcending can even go away ADHD
Research: Transcending is a particularly effective treatment for ADHD.
ADHD has multiple causes. It is often a symptom of stress that disrupts the normal functioning of the prefrontal cortex. It is diagnosed as ADHD. However, there are sometimes deeper, structural causes: ADHD can be caused by insufficient blood flow to the brain or by very poor EEG coherence.
No matter what the cause, transcending can help because it returns the brain to its normal mode and thus affects all three causes at the same time: the prefrontal cortex, blood flow, and EEG coherence. See below for more details on this.
Extraordinary research: 3 - 6 months of TM practice lead to a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms.
In 2011, a study confirmed the effect of TM on ADHD in children. Although it was a modest pilot study, the results were so significant that several American TV stations reported on them, as in this news item:
In the aforementioned study, children between the ages of 11 and 14 who had pronounced ADHD symptoms were randomly divided into two groups. One group learned TM immediately, the second group had to wait 3 months before learning the technique. The TM group showed a significant decrease in symptoms after just 3 months, while there was no improvement in the control group. After the control group had also learned TM, there were similar improvements after 3 months, while the first group made further progress.
You can clearly see in this graph, which shows the development of the theta / beta ratio of the children's brain waves over a 6-month period, how significant changes in the brain wave patterns result from TM. The ratio of theta to beta waves is disproportionately high in ADHD patients, but almost back to normal after 6 months of TM practice. The students were able to concentrate better, had more control over their impulsiveness, their organizational skills and also their problem-solving potential improved. Their academic results improved, they suffered less stress and anxiety, and they had fewer outbursts of anger.
Children with ADHD learn TM with ease and enjoy practicing it
A technique is only effective if the children practice it at all. With TM, that wasn't a problem at all because the kids liked to practice it. In a survey “How much do you like practicing TM?” The answer was an average of 5.3 on a scale between 0 (not at all) and 7 (very much).
Study was inMind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry(2011, Vol 2, No 1) published.
Eliminating ADHD: What Does Transcendental Meditation Do?
Transcending activates the body's own healing powers and thus causes stress and tension to be released, even the deepest stresses, and leads to the full brain potential being revived.
Stress and the prefrontal cortex
Under stress, the prefrontal cortex is switched off, so that control over impulsivity is reduced
The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain located directly above the eyes that is responsible for our higher thought functions such as controlling impulsiveness, long-term planning, moral reasoning, and making decisions about right or wrong. This part of the brain is sometimes referred to as the CEO (Abbreviation for Chief Executive Officer) because this is where most decisions are made. The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that distinguishes us from animals.
The mechanism by which the prefrontal cortex is switched off during stress is our protection
Normal functioning of the brain
In a normally functioning brain, the flow of information is processed as follows: The information comes in via the senses, is transmitted to the prefrontal cortex and processed there. The decisions are sent to the motor part of the brain, from where the relevant muscles are instructed to react.
Functioning of the brain under stress
The flow of information changes under stress. The information is then no longer routed via the prefrontal cortex, but forwarded directly to the motor system.
The reason for this structure of the brain is for our survival. When we cross a street and a car approaches, we cannot think about an answer first. We need an immediate, impulsive flight-fight reaction. There is no time to think in such a life-threatening situation. Switching off the prefrontal cortex serves our protection in this case.
However, this mechanism was not intended for chronic stressful situations. When someone is permanently exposed to chronic stress, the prefrontal cortex remains permanently switched off. The thought process is then automatically restricted to short-term memory and impulsiveness. Many ADHD symptoms are related to the inability to control impulsiveness. Essentially, the symptoms are stress-related.
Transcending invigorates the forebrain.
But the experience of transcending also invigorates the prefrontal cortex
Transcending lets the body experience much deeper rest, which allows the body to relieve even deep-seated tension. Hand in hand with this, the forebrain is activated. This can be shown by imaging tests that make the blood flow to the brain measurable. Activity in the thalamus (tied to physical functions) decreases, which is an indicator of relaxation, while activity in the prefrontal cortex increases. ADHD patients generally have low blood flow to certain areas of the brain. The TM practice increases blood flow.
In the longer term and after several weeks of TM practice, the prefrontal cortex becomes more active even outside of meditation and the children often observe that they are less impulsive.
When part of the brain is active, electrical activity occurs, which can be visualized and measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG device shows these electrical impulses on the time axis in the form of a wave.
These EEG wave patterns of the different parts of the brain are sent to a computer, which measures in real time to what extent the different patterns overlap / coincide, i.e. show coherence. When the brain waves are highly coherent, it means that the different parts of the brain are connected to each other. They then function as a whole.
ADHD = very low EEG coherence, transcending = increased EEG coherence
In ADHD patients, EEG coherence is unusually low, which can be objectively measured in other ways that the brain is unable to function normally. The TM practice increases the EEG coherence. Transcending is basically the experience of oneness - and that makes the brain function normally again, as a whole. This can be measured in real time, see the followingVideo.
These brain wave changes are unique and are linked to the experience of transcending during TM practice. Such strong coherence could not be measured with other meditation and relaxation techniques.
The more someone experiences high EEG coherence, the sooner the brain gets used to this state. This means that the EEG coherence is also higher outside of meditation, as confirmed in the following graphic:
Source: Travis, F. and Arenander, A.International Journal of Neuroscience, 2006.
The graphic shows the development of EEG mean values for 50 students over a period of 12 months. It proves that there is no difference in EEG coherence during TM practice whether someone meditates for 2 months or 12 months. Longer practice does not make one better at transcending. Since it is a completely natural process, you will transcend in the very first session. Yet we recognize differences in activity outside of meditation: EEG coherence grows and becomes more stable.
The same thing was found in the ADHD study. The following graphic shows connecting lines between the different parts of the brain that are coherent with each other. The coherence was measured at the beginning and at the end of the study and then the two were combined. The resulting lines indicate increased coherence (outside of TM practice) after a period of 3 months each.
The result is clear, the control group shows no differences after 3 months, while there was a clear increase in EEG coherence in the TM group. As soon as the control group has learned the TM after 3 months, they also show a strong increase in EEG coherence after 6 months. Reference:Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry(2011, Vol 2, No 1)
While TM is proving to be a pleasant and effective treatment, we still recommend that you do not stop with normal treatment. Many ADHD patients soon realize that they suddenly need less medication, but it is very important that this be done in small steps and in consultation with the doctor.
For specific questions about the effect of TM on ADHD, click: Doctors answer questions about TM and ADHD
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