Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The age long problem of trying to figure out cause/effect is part of the issue of trying to deal with Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Are people unable to calm down and focus because of their brain chemistry, or is their brain chemistry created by their inability to calm their mind?
A recent Center for Disease Control study reported by the New York Times stated that an estimated 6.4 million children ages 4 to 17 in the USA have received an ADHD diagnosis. From the Times article: “Fifteen percent of school-age boys have received an ADHD diagnosis, the data showed; the rate for girls was 7 percent. Diagnoses among those of high-school age — 14 to 17 — were particularly high, 10 percent for girls and 19 percent for boys. About one in 10 high-school boys currently takes ADHD medication, the data showed.” Sales of stimulants to treat ADHD reached the $9 billion mark in 2012.
Drugging children to get them to focus and behave seems to be the trend, a very costly trend. What we have learned in the past ten years with information from FMRI’s (functional magnetic resonance imaging) of children’s brains is how rapidly the brain is changing and developing. Neurologists call this brain development “brain plasticity”.
Children are learning how to concentrate and neural pathways are being created in the brain structure for concentration. We need to ask: are we using drugs to change behavior or our children’s brains? Surely there is a better way.
A study using FMRI’s on monks’ brains showed that during meditation the monks’ brains changed dramatically, suggesting that mental training changes the structure of the brain. We can literally change our minds, with our minds.
Leslie Gunterson, a coach for people with ADHD, recommends several strategies in her complimentary e-book, Rock Star Focus, to help any of us bring our minds into focus. Coach Leslie’s e-book is available at here:
Rock Star Focus List. Coach Leslie describes how to make a list of things that are on your mind. When she began this practice during meditation over twenty years ago, she had a hard time controlling all the thoughts popping in her head. For the first five or ten minutes she would sit with a legal pad and jot down those random thoughts, using just one word descriptions. As she made her list of erratic thoughts, she felt her mind calm. After her mediation she would go back to the list and create an action plan. Gunterson found by choosing the easiest items on the list first, her day would stay focused and productive. Her clients have also found a focus list to be beneficial.
Portable Circle of Focus. Gunterson coaches her clients to create a circle of focus, a technique that helps generate focus when it is important. This is an interesting method of designing a mental space where you can connect to your ability to focus. Gunterson describes how to envision a circle in which to stand and add your positive qualities, along with the character traits you might need to focus and get a job completed, features such as patience, analytical thinking, playfulness, resourcefulness and more. Feel the need to focus? Step into your circle to retrieve what you need. Once you’ve created your imaginary circle it is easy to put it in your pocket and take it everywhere.
Which comes first the chicken or the egg?
Learn how to focus first. The mind can calm the body’s chemistry. Body chemistry will then calm the mind. With focused adults surrounding them, our children may be able to create the focus they need to live the live of their dreams.