We hear a lot about mindfulness and engaging in the practice of mindfulness, but have you seen the impact for yourself? We’re told over and over that mindfulness is the key to inner peace, allowing us to focus on what’s important. If you’re one of the skeptics allow me to share my most recent finding.
A couple of weeks ago I spoke about the importance of meditation as outlined by Dan Harris in 10% Happier. Harris had a panic attack while reporting on Good Morning America. After much soul searching, psychiatrist visits, and retreats he concluded that meditation is the one thing that brings him to center and has improved his life.
I’m a seeker. I love learning new things, exploring the things that capture my attention, and expand what I think is possible. I look for reporters that are covering topics we would like to breeze by because they make us uncomfortable. Lisa Ling is one of those reporters. Ling’s show Our America with Lisa Ling, airs on OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network), tackles tough issues that we grapple with every day. Her latest show was about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
There are fifteen million people in the United States diagnosed with ADHD, most of them children. It’s disruptive to the lives of the children and their families. It leaves school systems feeling helpless and at odds with how to provide an education to these kids without interfering with their regular school programs. The episode followed those who are taking medication, as many do, and a case where an alternative to medication was used.
Wilson, a child with ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder was struggling through school. Things got so bad that in the second grade he told his mother that if he had to go back to school he was going to commit suicide. Fortunately his mother, an educator, hired an education advocate and they found salvation at The Hunter School.
The Hunter School is a unique boarding and therapeutic school helping young children with ADHD, Anxiety, Sensory and related conditions(taken from their website, www.hunterschool.org). The first shift in perspective came from the administrator. She reframed ADHD as a diagnosis to calling these children Energetically Sensitive. It shifted the cloud hanging over these kids to blue skies of hope.
The school is truly unique. The student teacher ratio is 1:3, unheard of in the American education system. The school takes a holistic approach, no medication. In its place the children are taught to meditate. They are guided in techniques to center themselves. If a child is disruptive in the classroom he or she is taken out of the class and brought to the mindful room where the student and the teacher work on refocusing, centering, and strategizing about ways to regain control.
Wilson, the student I spoke about earlier is thriving. He lives at the school during the week. His life has totally changed. He feels re-invented. He’s learned to structure his life so it’s manageable. He is renewed body, mind, and spirit. He eloquently discusses his new lease on life.
I understand that not every child has access to an educational institution like The Hunter School, but the school model is one we need to explore. The next question is if it works for kids, what could the impact be for adults. Dan Harris talks about the impact of going on a ten-day silent retreat and other meditation revelations.
I’m not saying that mindfulness is a cure for everything, but explore it. If you’re feeling anxious, depressed, angry or simply out-of-sorts, explore the impact of mindfulness. As always I’m not saying this is the definitive answer. You should always consult with a therapist, coach, or spiritual director to explore your options so your choices are made with informed consent.
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