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Meditation In Schools? Eastern Philosophy Gains Acceptance In Bay State

June 5, 2006

BOSTON -- An Eastern philosophy is gaining acceptance and popularity in Western medicine.
NewsCenter 5's Heather Unruh reported Monday that Transcendental Meditation is not just for hippies anymore. Studies show meditation can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, even help kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and now there's a proposal to bring meditation to Massachusetts schools.

Classes at a middle school in Detroit begin with 15 minutes of meditation -- no school bells or class announcements. "It keeps me stress free. It helps me concentrate better in class. If I miss a day of meditation, I lose concentration easier," one student said.

Transcendental Meditation, or TM, was considered the realm of the 1960s flower child, but research is beginning to show how a few minutes of quiet meditation twice a day can benefit the body, mind and soul.
"TM reduces heart disease. It lowers blood pressure -- any stress-related disease is going to be helped because what you're really getting is deep rest," TM teacher David Rottenberg said.

In fact, a nine-year study by the University of Michigan found meditating students were happier, managed stress better, and fought less with their peers.

Now there's talk of bringing meditation to schools in the commonwealth. The Massachusetts Committee for Stress Free Schools is a nonprofit group of educators and meditation specialists who believe TM can help students deal with stress, improve their grades and spark their creativity.

"The student is able to achieve more and think more clearly, so this has a tremendous benefit for students," Massachusetts Committee for Stress Free Schools spokeswoman Rosalind Stowe said.
TM may even help pump up your brain muscle. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital compared brain scans of 15 experienced meditators with 15 people who do not meditate. They found meditating actually increased the thickness of the cortex in areas of the brain dealing with attention and sensory processing.

Other studies show meditation could be a drug-free solution for kids with ADHD.
"Children with ADHD need to be able to focus more on what's pertinent in the classroom and be able to settle down better," Newton Wellesley Hospital Dr. Lori Gara-Matthews said.

Most doctors agree more research needs to be done on the benefits on TM. But Roxbury Charter High and several other schools in Massachusetts are considering incorporating meditation into the school day.
Copyright 2006 by TheBostonChannel.com.

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