News | Published in The TES on 12 August, 2011 | By: Jules Delay
Transcendental meditation, as made famous in the late 1960s by the Beatles and their guru the Maharishi Yogi, could help alleviate the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) new research has claimed.
A small-scale study funded by the David Lynch Foundation, which promotes TM, reported that the practice tackles children's stress levels and improves "cognitive functioning".
The research gave 18 American 11 to 14-year-old sufferers of ADHD a six-month course in TM, concluding that their focus on schoolwork, organisational skills and independent learning all improved. The study also claimed that TM had the added benefit of being an alternative to the use of drugs, which are often used to treat the condition.
Earlier this year, the independent Maharishi School in Lancashire gained approval from the Department for Education to become a free school.
Teachers and pupils at the school take part in three 10-minute meditation sessions every day, which headteacher Derek Cassells believes helps them reach an "inner peace" and improve the learning environment.
But Christopher Robertson, lecturer in inclusive and special education at Birmingham University, said he would urge "significant caution" over the findings that meditation can help ADHD.
"I think there are major problems when it comes to the scientific benefits of TM," he said. "One should be very cautious about claims made about interventions in ADHD.
"But what we do know is that children with ADHD characteristics do not respond well to traditional teaching approaches. The use of TM is potentially interesting because it is breaking up the pattern of orthodox teaching, but there might be other approaches that break that pattern that are beneficial as well."