Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Teaching a Child with ADD/ADHD about the Mind

Dear Mystical Mama,

I know you suggest that to live in your health, as a parent, is the best course.

[Note: in 3 Principles psychology, this means "mental health," as in: a quiet mind, receptivity to insight, grounded feeling states (when possible!), & love. --M.M.]

But, besides this, do you know of how to best describe the principles, say, to a 5-year-old? Or what to suggest to parents on how to explain the principles to a five-year-old diagnosed with ADD or ADHD? Can a five-year-old with extreme hyperactivity, impulsiveness, short attention span, etc. grasp or understand how their own mind works?

If so, how would one explain it to the child themselves? Do you explain in story form, parables to them ...or is it fine to just live in it yourself? How do you explain the principles to your own children? Just curious here.

--Robert "Walking Rabbit"

Dear Robert "Walking Rabbit"

and Dear Parents, everywhere! We cannot underestimate the importance of "putting our own oxygen masks on first." (See the two posts below.) Indeed, how will we teach our children about their minds, when we do not even know how to handle, or understand our own?

Are we not all a little ADD/ADHD from time to time? Can we investigate within ourselves, becoming gently curious, as to why? What occurs in Thought to create a sort of "running mind?" How is it that we can run to the store and spend all kinds of money on unnecessary items in a sort of frantic frenzy--what is that state of mind? Or, what creates the need to always be stimulated by some form of entertainment, be that people, TV, books, radio, Internet, and now, gotta-love-it Facebook?

And what happens when, rather than respond and react to this sort of running thinking, we simply allow this mental frenzy to be, understanding that our Health lies beneath this, our Health is the container for this ... ?

Children, it's been said many times, also respond mostly to how we are, much more so than to what we say. This is actually true for adults, too, is it not? We respond to each other's energy. Thus, our own calm-mindedness, our own grounding, guides us around our children, and helps them to calm down, too.

My dear friend and 3 Principles colleague, Gabriela, used to work closely with autistic children. She noticed that the children "behaved better" around those adults whose energy was present with them, who were Mind-full with them (and here I mean the "big Mind" as Mr. Banks defines it.) Finally, our own grounding and understanding speaks to our effectiveness with children if we do decide to share: How attached are we to their "changing" and "getting" what we are saying? How urgent do we become in trying to share our message? Is our trying to teach them really our way of trying to save or protect ourselves somehow? Are we overly invested in the whole thing?

Therefore, do put your own oxygen mask on first! As another wise colleague, Elsie Spittle, has written: "When we change the way we see things, the things we see seem to change." And the "problems" we see in our children look far less insurmountable. In my own case, with my own children (4 and 6), many problems have simply disappeared with the withdrawel of my worry and attention. I "kid" you not!

Finally, please note that I am not advocating walking around in a false kind of "calm," in which you are stirring and unhappy underneath, but showing a placid face. We are going for total self-honesty here. This must be first, above all: self-honesty, ruthless self-honesty. And being truly calm-minded does not mean that one's physical actions are slow and evenly paced, somehow. It simply means that all action comes from the place of wisdom, within.

OK, now, I will actually answer your question Robert. (Geez! I know!) ... What are these many diagnoses for our children--and ourselves--that we face today? I am by no means the expert, but are they not all made up names to describe some condition we believe is somehow the same across individuals? As we have created the words "tree," "faucet," "lawnmower," so have we created "ADD," "manic-depressive," "bi-polar," "anxiety disorder." It is also true that when we rely on the word to convey meaning, we lose touch with the reality of our own, or our child's situation now. We stop exploring for ourselves, we stop observing. Let the experts handle that, we say. What do I know?

Do I believe that children and people with ADD can learn about their own minds? Yes. Do I believe they have mental health and wisdom? Yes. We have a 14-year-old with an ADHD diagnoses in a school with us now who can sit for 45 minutes as we talk about the 3 Principles in his classroom. His teacher says this is phenomenal. How is it so? Because we don't care if he does or not, actually. Because we love him anyway.

Now, I am not arguing for or against medication. I have seen Wisdom point in both directions on this one. But I am suggesting that a "diagnosis" is merely the current and latest thinking of a society that, generally speaking, does not really understand itself at all.

Can a five-year-old learn how their own mind works? Yes. Can we teach them directly? Yes. Can we use a parable? Yes. Is it enough to just live the Truth ourselves? Yes.

I have done all of the above with my own older daughter, and I notice that if I am invested in her learning, or anxious about her learning, she tends to tune out. When our dialogue takes place within a context of love and real curiosity, she gets a lot of it, as do I. But truly, what has been most effective for me is moving into the space and spirit of Love, for myself, within myself. Love for Life, Love for myself, Love for her. So healing. Love is Mental Health.

One final story: I worked with a mother of three rambunctious and "diagnosed" young boys (two of them were.) She wound up with some of the Sydney Banks DVD's and played them on her television one day--just for herself really. She told me that as Syd talked, the boys started to slowly stop what they were doing and come around the television to listen.

And so it seems that the truth is the truth is the truth--for us all. And it can emerge in our families in many forms, "principles" or not. Going back to check our own feeling state, (do we move from Love or anxiety?) is the key. If we are not getting oxygen, we have no oxygen, really, to give to our children, or anyone else, no matter what words we use.

I appreciate and invite your further comments or questions.

With Love,

Your Mystical Mama

"Putting On My Own Oxygen Mask First"

Dear Friends,

Here is the response from our worried Mother, "Helen." I feel her wisdom here can be helpful to us all ...

Dear Ami,

Thank you for "replacing my fog with sunshine." I am so grateful to be made aware that I am still learning something I thought I already knew. I know this is the truth. Common sense has returned ... I went back to the basics: quiet, still and present (took your advice that "if it feels urgent, it isn't"). It was a lesson to myself again to realize just how much one needs to slow down, to be able to be still, to have no attachment to the outcome (emphasis added), in order for one's common sense to flow up.

I do feel a sense of calm again. It is only in finding the calm now, that I realize how crowded my thoughts were. How quickly and easily we choose to "love fear" and "fear love" of oneself and others! This was one of the insights that came to me. Taking the time and space I needed for myself afforded me a way of finding my way back to my common sense: not taking things personally, and seeing that "it is what it is ... " Giving myself some distance from the situation gave me that Self-grounded feeling ... and that "knowing feeling" again. As a mother, sometimes I do "forget to put the oxygen mask on myself first, before I can help someone else!"

May peace be with you,


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Question: What the &*%$! should I do?

Dear Mystical Mama,

(Note: Identifying facts have been changed for this Mother. Letter edited slightly for clarity.)

I am 50 yrs. old, divorced, and I've lived in Texas for many years with my two children. My daughter is a senior in high school. Since starting Greg's course (Gregory Drambour of Sedona Sacred Journeys), I have read all Syd Banks books, and the three principles approach absolutely does resonate with me.

I am very aware now that neither my ex-husband nor myself have applied anywhere near the three principles approach whilst bringing up our children. My Daughter was diagnosed one year ago with ADD and secondary Anxiety/Depression, which I'm sure is due to the misdiagnosis and frustration she has endured for the last couple of years. She has a very high IQ, and is creative and musically talented, but has been quite misunderstood for about two years at school, by friends and family, causing disagreement, conflict and gross misunderstanding between my ex-husband and myself, which, ultimately has had negative effects on my daughter. This has been a very difficult time for all of us in trying to find common agreement without judgment toward any other person, or projecting our own experience and programming whilst doing the best we can in coping with a mentally ill, sick child.

We have reached an agreement on some of the treatment, and "Eleanor" is continuing to improve and cope. This has been a very exacerbated time of heightened and prolonged realizations of absolute separate realities.

My Question is: Could you suggest a specific approach using the three principles in helping the family unit as a whole deal with a diagnosis of ADD or other mental illness's with children/teenagers?

Dear "Helen,"

Thank you so much for your letter. There is actually no such thing as a “specific approach” from a 3 Principles understanding to the issues you bring up here. It seems there is a great deal of conflict and confusion about what to do with your daughter, and even about the “separate realities” you have noticed, and that you say have led to “prolonged realizations.” I am assuming a “prolonged realization” here is not a breakthrough (bringing relief and understanding), but rather just seeing that everyone is in a separate reality, with no movement forward, or toward peace of mind. Is this correct? On the other hand, there is improvement and coping on the part of your daughter.

If this is all correct, then what seems to be very clear is that there is still a lack of clarity. Regardless of the situation, it is insightful simply to notice the lack of clarity. When there is lack of clarity, often there is urgency, and as I said on the Teleconference call with Greg, “If it feels urgent, it isn’t.” (Please note: this is barring actual physical emergencies!)

The reason I cannot recommend a specific course of action is because only your own Wisdom can do that. And right now, without clarity, Wisdom is not speaking loudly enough for anyone to hear. Actually, Wisdom is speaking, but the more fearful, ego-based and urgent thoughts are just “noisier” right now.

If one can start to become more present—not projecting into the future, not regretting, perhaps, parenting or relationship “mistakes” in the past—Thought starts to slow down, to quiet down. When the mind becomes quiet, insights emerge. The feeling of an insight (as opposed to worry, anxiety, projection, judgment) is quite distinctive—there is a calm and peace that accompanies an insight. No one is held “to blame,” not even oneself!

It seems to me that since you are the one who is inquiring (and are therefore receptive), becoming quiet, being patient, trusting your inner Wisdom to emerge at the right time is the best “three principles approach” I can recommend. Do you see how I would recommend this to anyone, in any situation?

When thoughts arise (and it seems that there are thoughts of regret about the past for you), can you see them as just thoughts—notice how they are not helpful in this moment, notice how we all punish ourselves through self-blame, although we are all quite human and subject to many flaws? Forgiveness for oneself can ignite forgiveness for others, including (believe it or not) ex-spouses! We have all done the best we can with the thinking we had at our disposal at any given time. We are all just trying to make it through life.

As parents, we are likely to engage in a great deal of worry and anxiety about our children, especially if they have a frightening "diagnoses." Can we see that this worry and anxiety is helping neither them nor ourselves? Can we allow ourselves the space and time—even while our loved one seems to be “suffering”—to calm down and experience our own mental health and peace of mind?

Truly, a parent’s ability to find their own peace of mind is the absolute best parenting “technique” on the planet. If you can discover your own peace of mind, Helen, this peace will spread with ripples throughout the family and this situation. Peace for you brings peace between you and your former husband, brings peace to your daughter. Answers spring from peace, and just as often, "problems" simply dissolve.

So, the answer, as always, lies inside of you.

Can you let go, and trust yourself fully?

Yours Truly,