Readings — From the July 2016 issue

Om Economics

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From a memorandum sent in February to the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District, in Massachusetts, by the National Center for Law and Policy, a legal-defense organization. The letter, written on behalf of a concerned parent, asked the district to cancel its contracts with Calmer Choice, a program that provides mindfulness training to students starting in kindergarten.

What is mindfulness? Is it safe and effective for children? These are questions that must be answered in the context of evaluating whether children should be exposed to Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (M.B.S.R.) practices.

The Calmer Choice curriculum trains children to listen to, trust, and validate their feelings, without differentiating between good and bad. No evidence is given regarding how to process negative feelings that may result from the indiscriminate affirmation of emotion. Dr. Willoughby Britton, assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University Medical School, reports, “Many of the meditators in my studies are reporting side effects like depersonalization. Derepression of traumatic memories is another common one. People have all this energy running through them; they are having spasms and involuntary movements; they are seeing lights. They check themselves into psychiatric hospitals. They freak out.” A meditator interviewed by Britton describes a meditation-induced “psychological hell” of “confusion and terror,” including “a vision of Death with a scythe and a hood, and the thought ‘Kill yourself’ over and over again.” Britton reflects, “There are parts of me that just want meditation to be all good. But then I meet someone who’s in distress, and I see the devastation in their eyes.”

M.B.S.R. is being imposed upon impressionable, vulnerable children and their unsuspecting families. All taxpayers should be deeply concerned that public funds may be depleted if children start to manifest psychological and spiritual problems as a result of the meditation program.

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