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Even with ADHD, “Menditation” Helps Calm a Little Boy’s Mind

This is the story of a sweet little six year old, I see at a school to enhance executive function skills. He is rather energetic and would like to throw his body on the crash mat (an occupational therapy mat that is about 6×10 ft wide and 4 ft thick filled with beans or foam) two hours at a time. So we always begin with a heavy dose of running, jumping, side hopping and skipping, even though he’d rather we pretend we’re offensive lineman and just smash into one another.

After we’re all sweaty and I’m worn out, ‘cause just in case you’re not reading between the lines, nothing wears him out, he says “Let’s do menditation.” Yes, menditation, that’s not a typo. When he initially used the word, I jumped all over it, “That’s right Johnny we mend our mind and our body with menditation.” Oh my, he plops down, even though we’re on the cement right outside the backdoor at his school. Bam! “I menditate!” he exclaims.

What Johnny loves is rhythm in action. We do the same thing every time and if I skip a step I hear, “No, Dr. Lynne that’s not how we do it.”

We start by placing a small bouncing ball, the kind you find in the 50-cent machines at the grocery store, on our belly buttons. We breathe into our lower bellies until the ball rises or falls off. This teaches Johnny how to take deep diaphragmatic breaths.

There we remain laying down, close our eyes and breathe in our favorite color, we focus on the color as our thoughts fade away. I tell Johnny his body is falling gently into a pool of water or warm beach sand so that his shoulders fall, his hands open and relaxation wafts over him. He knows now not to speak, but in the beginning we would turn over a three-minute egg timer and choose not to speak until the sand has fallen through the timer. In the beginning he used to sit and watch the sand, that was a fine beginning. Your child may meditate by watching the sand time and time again, eventually he put the timer down, and close his eyes just like Johnny did. Three minutes of meditation might be as a still as a child with ADHD has ever been outside of sleep, so go with it, choose not to talk and just lay there breathing deeply.

When Johnny stirs or shows signs of being bored with the activity we sit up cross-legged and breathe out in a series of long “Ommm”s. This extends the period of relaxation while still providing the child with enough novelty to feel stimulated. After a few “Ommm”s, we stand and drop into a downward dog pose. We slowly rise, salute the sun with our hands over head, our hands fall gently to our sides and we are done. The whole process takes about 15 minutes now, in the beginning four minutes was all Johnny could tolerate.

When Johnny’s brain and body have calmed we them work on our “brain skills” for the day. Sometimes we bounce a large beach ball back and forth each stating one step toward being a good listener, kind friend or attentive student. Whatever the skill, engaging the cerebellum while we state the skill seems to help.

As an example:

Lynne: I choose not to talk.

Johnny: I choose to open my ears.

Lynne: I choose to look into the eyes of my teacher.

Johnny: I choose to watch her as she speaks.

Lynne: I think about the words she is saying.

Johnny: I ignore other noises.

Lynne: I keep my body still on my chair.

Johnny: I keep my hands folded on my desk.

Lynne: Now I am ready to do what my teacher asks.

Johnny: When I listen I learn.

There you have it. Boys can meditate, even boys with severe ADHD like Johnny. First we get out our energy. Then we meditate. Then we learn and even practice a skill.

The brain is a fabulous and miraculous organ. It is primed to learn and grow. All it needs from us as parents and teachers, is to maximize the opportunity. ADHD or not, meditation helps calm the brain and open opportunities for learning. Give it a try. If you also wish for music. Lori Lite’s mp3s can be found on itunes or at her site http://stressfreekids.com.

I am calmer now for writing this story. Hope you and your children will give meditation a try.

Mend, heal, learn.

Mindful Meditation for Families – Calm the Chaos

One path toward shifting your thoughts, particularly your judgmental or negative thoughts is through sustained non-judgmental attention or meditation. Meditation is the experience of sustaining one’s focus on a thought, word, sensation or sound in order to calm the mind. Mindful meditation is the act of calming your mind and body through non-judgmental sustained attention.

If you are prone to rumination, negative thinking or catastrophizing, mindful meditation is a skill you may wish to explore. If you find that you are overwhelmed with work, life, people, finances, holidays or parenting cultivating a sense of peace and calm, developing more neutral thoughts, and appreciating what you have in the moment will likely help decrease your experience of stress. Health benefits abound for families.

Let’s say you are ready to feel better, to think more positively and to feel less distressed. Begin by simply adding ten minutes of mindful meditation to your day. You can do it in the morning right when you wake up, in the evening before you go to sleep or anytime you feel fidgety, anxious, overwhelmed, sad, angry or depressed. Meditation can take place anywhere, in the mall, in the swimming pool, or in your car. You need not “go somewhere” to meditate. Meditate where ever you are.

Start with your “Beginner’s Mind” allowing yourself to relax into the experience as though you have never been in this moment before.

  1. Sit in an upright position with your ribs aligned over your hips and your shoulders aligned over your ribs. (I prefer to lie down, you can as well, if you wish)
  2. Close your eyes to reduce distraction and breath.
  3. 1-2-3 in, 1-2-3 out, in through your nose out through your nose or mouth.
  4. Bring your focus into your breath, feel your breath moving in and out, see your breath, color your breath, feel your breath oxygenate your blood and feed the cells of your body.
  5. When your mind wanders in a relaxed manner, bring your focus back to your breath.
  6. Feel your body relax, experience your minds reflections.

For children who are restless, consider having them lay with a warm blanket or a heating pad. Often the warmth and containment in space help them relax. Music from Stressfreekids.com is also a great help. In fact, I use their stories and sounds in my office regularly.

After about fifteen minutes you may slowly open your eyes and note how you feel calm, refreshed and ready for what life has in store for you. Over time you may choose to extend your mindful moments. You may choose to meditate up to 45 minutes a day. You may choose to meditate or pay mindful attention when you grocery shop, pump gas, or talk with your neighbor. Feel the intimacy in your relationships grow as you give your conversational experiences with friends, your undivided mindful attention.

You may bring mindfulness into your parenting by increasing your undistracted, sustained attention with your children. Through mindfulness, you will naturally experience being more “present” with your children. You may lose your keys less often and even yell less, as your mindful experiences allow you to live more peacefully and non-judgmentally in the moment.

Peaceful moments to you.

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For books and resources you may choose to visit The UCLA Semel Institute and The UCSD Center for Mindfulness.

Meditation Tips as Stress Relief for Teens and Young Adults

teen-meditationAs parents, we often long for our young adult life — for the days of nonchalance and many firsts, and we often romanticize this time. What we must remember is that being a teenager is a trying time and today, in the age of constant connection, it is far more challenging being a young adult.

Teens are more stressed than ever — they are pressured by the media and constantly being judged on social media, not to mention the anxiety and the moods that come with hormones and a change in their looks. Beating such angst in a healthy way is ideal for every young adult and one effective way they can do so is through meditation.

This form of stress relief can teach teens how to deal with pressure and to ease those bouts of anxiety. It can help them manage their moods and teach them how to stay positive. Meditation can be done anywhere, it is free and it will help teens feel mentally strong. The following are a few tips to start meditation, so that your kids can learn to fall in love with this ritual.

Start small – It takes time to teach the mind how to stay still during meditation, so rather than starting off with a 30 minute sit down, begin this process with a five to ten minute ritual and then build on time as you go along.

Find a quiet place – Whether that’s in a garden or on a balcony; in your room or in the bathroom, choose a quiet place when you are meditating so that you can concentrate on your mind and breathing.

Switch off your phone – Phone notifications are constantly beeping on our phones so it’s best to put your phone on silent during meditation to avoid distractions. This can go beyond meditation time, where you make it a habit to switch off your phone or at least put it on silent some time during the day. This way, you will have spent less time checking and listening to what others are doing and instead, you will start listening to what you are thinking.

Download an app – There are a number of great meditation apps that can guide you through proper meditation like Smiling Mind, Headspace and more. Download one of these apps if you feel more comfortable being guided.

Learn the different types of meditations – If you’d rather not use an app, then learn the different types of meditations — whether that’s heart breath, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation or more — so that you can choose the one that suits your needs best.

teen-deep-breathing-prayer-handsListen to your body – Don’t try to control the thoughts in your mind or your breathing. Start the meditation ritual by listening to how your body is feeling and how you are breathing, rather than starting off with breathing deeply in and out. Meditation is about stopping, listening and acknowledging how your body and mind are doing.

Sit comfortably – Don’t feel pressured to sit on the floor with your legs crossed while meditating. A comfortable chair that supports your back can be just as effective. Leave your hands on your lap or where they feel most comfortable and close your eyes.

Try yoga – If you find that you love meditation, then you can try yoga which has many of the meditative qualities found in meditation. Practice at home with the guidance of online videos or join a class and bring meditation into your workouts.

At the end of the day, we cannot protect our teens from feeling pressured, stressed, sad or moody but through the art of meditation, we can teach them to channel their negative moods in a positive manner, so that no matter how overwhelming life gets, they will know how to deal with it in a healthy manner.

Quick Feel-Good Cold Remedies for Kids

As you probably know, there’s no cure for the common cold. And it’s hard to prevent, especially in children who are in school or daycare. Keeping your home’s germ hotspots clean and boosting your child’s immune system with plenty of sleep helps. Even so, few moms get through the sneezin’ season without having to deal with at least one bout of sniffles and a sore throat.

So what home remedies can you use to help a sick child feel better?

1. Offer an ice pop.

Water, juice, warm broth or lemon water with honey can help loosen congestion and keep your sick one hydrated. (Just don’t give honey to infants.) If your child’s throat hurts so much you can’t convince him to drink, offer an ice pop instead.

2. Create a steam room.

Cold viruses thrive in dry conditions, which is part of the reason why colds are more common in winter. Mucus membranes will dry in dry air conditions, which can cause a nose to be stuffy and throat to be scratchy. To help loosen mucus, have your child sit in a steamy bathroom for 10 minutes before bedtime. A humidifier can also help; just be sure to keep it clean, otherwise it can make mold spores spread, doing more harm than good. Change the water every day and follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions carefully.

3. Get them to gargle.

This can be hard to do with a younger child, but if you have a tween or teen, suggest she gargle twice a day with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt mixed into 1 cup warm water).

4. Heed Grandma’s advice.

As for her famous chicken soup remedy, good news: It’s a valid meal choice for a child with a cold. Studies have shown that both the homemade and canned varieties have anti-inflammatory properties, easing swollen nasal membranes. Plus, it’s another (tasty) way of helping your child get valuable fluids, and it can replace lost sodium if your child is vomiting or has diarrhea.

5. Try saline nasal drops and sprays.

Combat stuffiness and congestion with over-the-counter saline nasal sprays and drops. For a baby, squirt a few drops of saline solution in your baby’s nasal passages, then gently suction with a rubber bulb syringe. This is important, as babies are “obligate nose breathers,” meaning they have not yet learned to open their mouths to breathe when their nose is stuffed.

6. Watch for signs of strep.

If your child’s sore throat is accompanied by a fever, headache or chills, or her discomfort seems extreme, give her pediatrician a call. It might be strep throat, a bacterial infection that you’ll need antibiotics to treat.



Cooking with Herbs and Spices to Boost Family Health

Herbs and spices for family healthYou and your kids don’t have to eat nutrient-packed meals at the expense of your taste buds. In fact, the contrary is true: Adding flavorful herbs and spices can make your dishes even healthier. According to a study published in Nutrition Journal, many spices contain more disease-fighting antioxidants than fruits and vegetables, making them a tasty and natural home remedy. To start spicing up your family’s life, make the following five your new pantry staples.

1. Oregano

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that, ounce for ounce, oregano packs in four times as many antioxidants as blueberries. Meanwhile, other studies show that oregano has antibacterial and antifungal properties that may fend off food poisoning and infections alike.

Serving suggestion: Besides sprinkling it on pizza and adding it to marinara sauce, try stirring it into salad dressings and marinades.

2. Cinnamon

This warm spice is loaded with health-boosting antioxidants. According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, cinnamon may help your body counteract the heart-harming effects of a high-fat meal. Other research suggests that it may regulate blood sugar to help fend off diabetes, although the results are mixed. Historically, cinnamon has been used for muscle aches, stomach woes and respiratory ailments, says Bharat Aggarwal, Ph.D., in Healing Spices.

Serving suggestion: Add a dash of cinnamon to baked goods, tea, yogurt and peanut butter sandwiches. Use it to top fruit and ice cream, or mix it into beef or meatloaf. Bonus: Scientists say that the scent of cinnamon can improve memory and reduce anxiety, so take a big whiff.

3. Thyme

You definitely want this herb on your side: Research shows that it can protect against electronic cigarette big mountain gum disease, infections, ulcers and even certain cancers. And German research shows that thyme extracts can soothe the coughing caused by colds and bronchitis. Thyme’s health benefits can be chalked up to thymol, a germ-killing oil, explains Aggarwal.

Serving suggestion: Sprinkle thyme over potatoes, meat, vegetables and salads. For infused oil, add a thyme branch to a small bottle of olive oil. Or mix thyme into scrambled eggs.

4. Ginger

This spicy root contains anti-inflammatory compounds, such as gingerols, that may combat headaches, arthritis and stomachaches. Science also proves that it can calm queasiness, nausea and morning sickness.

Serving suggestion: Someone feeling sick? Brew a ginger tea by steeping it in hot water. Or grate fresh ginger or sprinkle the dried stuff into stir-fries, marinades and Asian dipping sauces.

5. Rosemary

Firing up the grill? Flavor meat with this fragrant herb. Exposing meat to high heat creates cancer-causing compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). But adding rosemary to the meat mixture can protect against the formation of HCAs, say scientists from Kansas State University. Plus, you’ll do some good for everyone’s skin and memory, according to Aggarwal.

Serving suggestion: Whip up a simple meat marinade with olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Or chop up the herb and add it to vegetable, meats, soups and bread mixtures. You can also add it to simple syrup for a tasty rosemary-infused lemonade.

Finally, to eliminate food odors from your kitchen, be sure to spray a dash of air freshener in a fresh scent after you finish cooking. Your family will be in for a treat any day of the week – during meals and in between.



Help! My Son’s Stuffy Nose Doesn’t Care if It’s a Cold or Allergies

colds and allergies mean miserable kidsHow can you help him breathe easier?

First, make sure your son is drinking throughout the day, since chugging liquids can thin mucus. Next, have him breathe in some steam to lubricate his nose and chest, which can unclog those passages. A few options:

Run a hot shower and have him sit in the bathroom with the door closed for 10 minutes.

Fill a bowl with hot water, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil, place a towel on top and waft the steam towards him. (Placing his head directly above the bowl without a towel may lead to burns.)

Run a humidifier in his room, especially while he sleeps.

If he’s still feeling stuffed up, try an over-the-counter saline spray to loosen the congestion and moisten nasal membranes.

Finally, be sure to keep a box of soft facial tissues on your nightstand. That way, relief will be within reach whenever he needs it.



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