Originally published in Homeopathy Today, Autumn, 2017 and included in The Joy of Homeopathy: Mental and Emotional Healing, selected articles 1997-2021 *
The label “Attention Deficit” is being thrown around way too much. Given the very general process that determines whether a child has it or not, most of our citizens (young and old) would easily fall within its “official” definition. Any label, especially if it hints at a deficiency, is scary. If you are a parent or grandparent, you can feel helpless when it has been placed on your child.
Well-intentioned school personnel may be advising you to pursue the quick fix of traditional medication, however, it is best to stop and pause. Remember the “name” is not the thing nor is the “map” the territory; don’t get overwhelmed by generalized labels.
We are all different; we have our own temperaments and learning styles. Regardless of what the pharmaceutical companies advocate as a solution, there are alternative ways to address the situation. Here are suggestions that will enable you to develop a plan and make a positive difference in your child or grandchild’s life if there is a concern about attention deficit.
Our attention and concentration depend on our readiness to access the present moment. Get involved with them by participating in such exercises as being “mindful,” which encourages learning to breathe and focus, as well as relaxation and visualization techniques. In most cases these will result in an increase in a child’s awareness and ability to concentrate.
Some helpful books include Mind in The Making, by Ellen Galinsky, Child’s Mind, by Christopher Willard, The Mindful Child, by Susan Kaiser Greenland and The Healing Power of the Breath, by Drs. R. Brown and P. Gerberg.
Don’t blindly depend on the “experts.” You know your child or grandchild much better. Be positive and think outside the box. Perhaps the best way to assist is to participate in a support team for your child. Schools can easily coordinate this, with those involved having clear roles and responsibilities.
In addition to school personnel, your team can include grandparents and trusted community members. Other resources, such as meditation, Coherent Breathing, vitamins, diet and of course homeopathy, all have a proven record of success. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose by trying a more holistic approach, based on a child’s individual needs.
What follows is the homeopathic framework that I use when assessing someone presenting with ADD issues, which can be adapted based on the age and developmental needs with the person involved.
By way of a starting point, let me share with you what I ask those of any age seeking help in my practice. My initial question, is simply: “What is it that you are not getting in life that causes concern and stops you from being who you want to be?” Next, I ask them to think about this for a minute or so. When they have defined this concern, I suggest focusing on the consequence of what they are not getting?
At this juncture, I introduce Coherent Breathing with the instructions: Breathe through the nose, fill up your stomach and then gradually bring your breath up to your chest to the count of six seconds as you slowly raise your arms above your head. Exhale through your mouth, lips slightly pursed, to the count of six seconds and then slowly bring your arms down while thinking of something positive during exhalation. This is repeated for five minutes and activates the Vagus Nerve, the nerve of compassion which regulates one’s metabolism, heart rate and emotional wellbeing.
Coherent Breathing was developed by Stephen Elliott (www. CoherentBreathing.org) and involves five breaths per minute as compared to the average 15 breaths that we usually take. I suggest adding a simple Qigong movement (a system of physical exercises and breathing skills) that allows the Parasympathetic, (calm part) and Sympathetic (revved up part) of your nervous system to be more in harmony.
Research clearly supports that this breathing pattern helps alleviate symptoms such as anxiety, ADD, depression, and trauma. Coherent Breathing enhances awareness of your environment and stimulates the release of Oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, something we can always use. It also complements and supports the use of homeopathy by strengthening the immune system.
After the initial breathing exercise, I ask that they relax their body from head to toe while creating a peripheral view as if widening the lens of a camera; trying to see beyond the confines of their surroundings. After a short pause, I suggest that they think about what is happening in all aspects of their lives. Kids love this exercise as it breaks the ice and inevitably brings up many personal issues and in most instances, some humor.
The above sets the framework for homeopathic inquiry by having them bring their lens back to their original concern and asking how it affects them throughout all aspects of their life. What insights, sensations, modalities and strengths arise in them as they consider their concerns from a wider perspective?
Widening one’s lens gives context and allows for ecological thinking. It also encourages us to see how we are all connected by the energy in our relationships and that we are made up of molecules traceable to high mass stars as physicist Neil DeGriase Tyson believes. This sets the stage to determine the impact of not only family of origin dynamics but the “not well since,” unique and striking symptom patterns that are the basis of homeopathic case taking.
Sharon, who is 14 years old, was referred to me by her school counselor who believed she had ADD. She presented with patterns of poor concentration and procrastination. She articulated that her concern was not being worthy and the consequence being that she could not get higher grades.
Her dreams were full of self-reproach. After some Coherent Breathing Sharon quickly shared with me her sense of low self-esteem and fear of failure. She also articulated how she compensates by acting “foolish.” Although her humor was very creative, she tended to lose her focus when describing events.
She felt better by dancing. Her temperament was one of being an extroverted/ feeling person with much empathy. She was very thirsty and felt worse with heat and being in the sun. Other symptoms that were described were her bouts with eczema, headaches above her eyes during menses, memories of being made fun of and a feeling of being trapped.
The remedy for Sharon was Natrum Muriaticum taken twice a day in a 6C medicinal solution for ten days. She was instructed to continue the Coherent Breathing after each dose for five minutes and record her feelings. During a follow-up appointment six weeks later, she reported that her eczema had subsided and she had not experienced any headaches during her recent menses.
She recorded a slow but definite improvement with her self-esteem, emotional attitude and as well as putting less pressure on herself regarding grades. Although she placed importance on getting better grades, it did not seem to affect her confidence as much as in the past.
During a family session, her mother confirmed that there was less tension in the family dynamics and that the school personnel who were helping Sharon felt she was more focused and social. It was suggested that she take a dose of Natrum Muriaticum 30C potency as needed and practice Coherent Breathing on a regular basis.
A second follow up visit six months later showed that there were no instances of eczema nor headaches during menses. She still had moments of self-doubt but showed more ease and acceptance in her life. Her concentration issues subsided, and she could get her grades up without the past pressure and concerns.
I have worked with the problems of attention and concentration in my practice for over thirty years. Given the individualized approach of homeopathy, my cases have been resolved with different remedies based on the presenting context, temperament and other existing symptoms and modalities.
It is always best to look for the totality of symptoms that exist at the time of the assessment. By adding other skills such as Coherent Breathing, Yoga, Qigong, Tai Chi or Aikido, (all mind/body techniques) the energy inherent in homeopathy can better balance the immune system.
All in our society will benefit in the long run by addressing the needs of our youth systemically, and who amongst us is not concerned about them and their future. In this seeming “epidemic” of ADD, you will be helping your loved one, yourself and other parents/grandparents as they learn of your efforts. You are about to embark on a possible life-changing journey for your child, with the bonus that you can have a lot of fun while helping them.
The main tenet of being mindful is to pause and focus while viewing the world as a part-to-whole interconnected process. The consequence of not recognizing our mutual interdependence with nature and others can and has led to stress, which is linked to a compromised immune system and other health threats. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk who helped popularize Mindfulness, urges us “to be fully alive, to be mindful you need a beginner’s mind,” or as Shunryu Suzuki asserts in his classic Zen Mind, Beginners Mind (Shambhala Publications: New York, 1970,) “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s, there are few.” Through being at the beginning we can form an attitude that emphasizes strong confidence in our original nature. “If you fix your mind on the activity with some confidence, the quality of your state of mind is the activity itself.”
* (E-Book) The Joy of Homeopathy: Mental and Emotional Healing
(Selected Articles 1997-2020 and media presentations)
By, Kenneth Silvestri, Ed.D, CCH
Introduction and Table of Contents: