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Ayurvedic and Mental Attention

Our mental health is essential to our overall physical health. When the mind is clear, alert, and focused, we process information more efficiently. We can learn more quickly and easily and improve our memory. This, in turn, increases confidence and promotes a positive attitude. And, of course, a healthy, positive attitude encourages a healthy lifestyle and a healthy body!

We are required to focus and concentrate at many times in our lives. One of these times is when we are in school. We've all experienced that falling-asleep-in-class phenomenon. A boring lecture acts as a sedative that lulls us into a state of unconsciousness, but we pay the price during final exams!

Children face this challenge everyday in the classroom. No matter how intriguing the teacher's lesson may be, a child's active imagination often wins the battle for his or her attention.

In the business world, we need to keep our minds on our jobs in order to perform well. We've got to block out distractions, either internal or external, and focus on the task at hand.

At home, we've got to juggle several situations at a time and give each the attention it deserves. We make lists, keep appointment books, organize, schedule, and delegate. We have to keep track of who is going where with whom and when. There are phone calls to make, groceries to buy, dry cleaning to pick up, laundry to do, meals to make, homework to turn in, and pets to feed. Good mental function allows us to handle our busy lives with a minimum of stress.

Everyone has trouble focusing now and then, but when the lack of ability to concentrate is an ongoing problem in several situations, you may suspect an attention disorder. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, (now officially referred to as AD/HD) or ADD, is a neurobiological disorder that affects approximately 3 to 5 percent of the school-age population. ADD is not a condition that is "outgrown." About two-thirds of those children identified with ADD continue to show symptoms into adulthood.

In studies performed at the National Institute of Mental Health advanced brain imaging techniques have shown that the frontal lobe of an ADD brain is chemically different from that of a non-ADD brain. The frontal lobe is important for attention, handwriting, motor control, and inhibition of responses.

ADD is a medical condition that is usually genetic. Typically, people with ADD are easily distracted, impulsive and restless. The symptoms of ADD appear in early childhood, are ongoing, and are not caused by physical, emotional, or mental stress. If left undiagnosed or untreated, a child with ADD is at risk of having poor self-esteem, an impaired learning ability, social problems, and family conflicts.

Here are some the other characteristics a person with ADD may exhibit:

· Fidgeting with hands or feet
· Difficulty remaining seated
· Difficulty following through on instructions
· Shifting from one uncompleted task to another
· Difficulty playing or working quietly
· Interrupting
· "Daydreaming" at inappropriate times
· Participating in dangerous activities
· Mood swings
· Disorganized work space, living area
· Impatience
· Insatiability, a feeling of never being satisfied

People with ADD usually are bright, creative, and have a sparkling sense of humor. But because of their behavior, they are often misunderstood and can have trouble making and keeping friends. People with ADD need to learn to cope with their disability and to channel their remarkable energy in a positive direction to succeed. Albert Einstein is just one of the famous people said to have had ADD who has made a wonderful contribution to the world.

A "multimodal" approach is recommended for treating ADD. This may involve parent participation in behavior modification techniques, an individualized educational program, individual and family counseling, and medication when required.

If you think that you or your child may have an attention deficit, it is important to consult a specialist (a psychologist or psychiatrist who understands ADD and how to treat it) to get a clear diagnosis. Many other problems may accompany the disorder, so how the ADD is treated often depends on what other conditions may be present.

If you need more information about Attention Deficit Disorders, you can call or write to CH.A.D.D (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders). This national, non-profit organization is dedicated to helping children and adults with ADD succeed. To find a chapter in your area, www.chadd.org.

Whether you have an attention disorder or not, the following natural methods have been used very successfully in improving concentration levels.

According to the Ayurvedic system of health, good mental function is composed of three attributes: the acquisition, the retention, and the recollection of knowledge.

If you cannot concentrate because you feel tired, this may be a Kapha imbalance, and some Kapha tea may prove stimulating. If you feel you cannot concentrate because you are under stress, some Vata tea may be calming. If you are feeling frustrated with your work, the cooling effects of Pitta tea may help. College students may want to keep all three teas on hand, particularly during final exams!

"Mind Power" is an herb combination that helps to diminish mental stress. It is recommended for working adults as it works on improving memory and increasing creativity. It comes in liquid form only.

"Study Power" increases general concentration. It is a combination of herbs known for their positive effect on one's ability to concentrate. It strengthens all three attributes of mental function but works particularly well on the power of acquisition, as students are in school to acquire knowlege. Study Power comes in tablet form. Adults should take 1 tablet twice a day; children ages 5 to 10 should take 1/2 tablet twice a day.

"Youthful Mind" another herb combination, is used when you are mentally fatigued. It allows you to focus and relax at the same time. Take these tablets as directed on the bottle.

Ayurveda encourages meditation on a daily basis to help with mental clarity and overall health. Depending on your specific mind/body type, certain kinds of meditation practices may prove more beneficial to you.

Vata types derive the most benefits from chanting or from the use of mantras in their meditation.

Pitta types are visually oriented and will enjoy visualization techniques or color meditation.

Kapha types have a strong sense of taste and smell and enjoy using incense or flowers as a part of their meditation.

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