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Brain Development

Dharma Parenting

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CJ interviews two renowned neuroscientists and pioneers in documenting the benefits of Transcendental Meditation give parents a guided tour of their children’s brains through contemporary science and ancient Ayurvedic typology (parents can “type” their kids and themselves) for a wealth of methods and insights to maximize your child’s learning and behavioral style.  Find out more about Dharma Parenting.


What is Dharma? How is this connected to the idea of Prakti?

Dharma is a concept found in Eastern traditions. The word “dharma” comes from the Sanskrit verb dhri, which means to “uphold” or “support.” Our dharma is our path in life—the lifestyle that supports our personal growth, happiness, success, and fulfillment. Dharma is different at different ages, and for different children. One child learns quickly and forgets quickly, while another learns slowly and forgets slowly. One may be content to work alone for long periods of time; another wants to be surrounded by friends. If we are lucky, we find our dharma early in life.

Does our dharma change in life with experience? How much can we change from our innate nature?  

The three doshas are at the heart of the Ayurvedic concept of prakriti (constitution). This is the idea that each of us has a unique combination of vata, pitta, and kapha within us that is

unequivocally our own. According to Ayurveda, our constitutions are established at conception, cemented at birth, and remain stable throughout our lives, serving as a personal reference point for optimal health and informing who we are at the most fundamental levels.

Though imbalances may disturb our systems, our constitutions remain unchanged, influencing every aspect of the mind and body—our physiology, our physique, our likes and dislikes, our tendencies and habits, our mental and emotional states, as well as our vulnerabilities toward imbalance and disease. Throughout our lives, our bodies continually self-regulate, attempting to maintain (or realign with) this natural state of equilibrium. In fact, optimal health is achieved when our systems can return to and maintain the specific ratio of vata, pitta, and kapha that we were born with. But no two constitutions are exactly the same, so your constitution represents perfect equilibrium for you and you alone, and any deviation from this harmonious relationship between vata, pitta, kapha in your mind body organism will result in imbalance.

What Western science supports Ayurveda medicine?

The science of body types from Ayurveda has been investigated in terms of cardiovascular functioning and DNA expression.  We have published a paper that predicts patterns in brain functioning that characterize each state.  We are currently conducting research to test these predictions.

What are the different “Brain/Body Types” and how were they established?

Dharma Parenting draws on the time-tested knowledge of Ayurveda’s mind/body types and combines it with the latest understanding of how the brain is shaped by its natural maturation and by experience. These two factors— natural patterns of response and ongoing brain changes—contribute to what we call brain/body types, which are enormously useful for understanding your child’s behavior. The three main types from Ayurveda are:

  • Vata body type— sensitive, always changing, and creative.
  • The Pitta body type—dynamic, strong willed, and inquisitive.
  • The Kapha body type— is calm, steady, and kind.

The brain/body types also take into consideration the transformation in brain circuits occurring during development. For instance, the frontal connections are the last to mature, and are not yet fully developed in teenagers, which helps explain their sometimes erratic behavior.

How does this map to our emotional states, tendencies and habits? How can it help parents?

Knowing your child’s brain/body type allows you to understand why one child quickly gets their clothes on, while the other seems to just stand around.  It allows you to understand how one of your children is academically brilliant in school and the other can barely keep up.   Knowing your children’s brain/body type—their natural tendencies and changing brain connections—allows you to better understand what your child needs to be happy and successful.

What does Ayurveda medicine say about supporting each type of body type in terms of health  and nutrition? 

Each of the Brain/Body types reacts differently to food.

Vata Types – Need easy-to-digest snacks like fruit, yogurt, and most toasted nuts and seeds. Avoid crisp dried food like potato chips and popcorn because they aggravate Vata and cause imbalance. Vatas do best with warm foods like warm muffins or cookies, and hot liquids like cocoa and soup.

Pitta Types – Have a strong digestion and need sizeable snacks. But avoid hot and spicy. Go for yogurt and granola, muffins and milk, and a sandwich with juice.

Kapha Types – Have a slower digestion and don’t need a large snack. Stay away from cold heavy foods such as yogurt, ice cream, and cheese. Offer a crunchy apple, crisp carrot sticks, or a muffin and fruit juice.

Don’t worry, Dharma Parenting gives you charts to easily keep track of what’s best for each type of child!

Author Keith Wallace

Dr. Robert Keith Wallace is the pioneering researcher on the physiology of consciousness, opening the door of science to the study of the mind/body connection and its application in behavioral medicine.

His findings describing a fourth state of consciousness (beyond waking, dreaming and sleeping) supports a new paradigm of health and human development, and his most important papers have been published in eminent journals such as Science, American Journal of Physiology, and Scientific American. Dr. Wallace received his B.S. in physics and his Ph.D. in physiology from U.C.L.A. and conducted postgraduate research at Harvard University.

Dr. Wallace is the founding President of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa.

Dr. Wallace established the first Maharishi Ayurveda Clinics in the United States—in Fairfield, Iowa, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C. He has traveled around the world giving lectures at major universities and institutes on consciousness-based health programs. Dr. Wallace is currently a Trustee of Maharishi University of Management, Co-Dean of College of Perfect Health, and Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physiology and Health.

Over the past 40 years, Dr. Wallace has studied the stages of brain development in children as he parented a combined family of four children through the shark filled waters of adolescence. His findings led him to the conclusion that if more parents understood what is going on in their children’s brains, they could do a substantially better job of guiding them and reduce their own frustration and disappointment at the same time.

Dr. Wallace is the author of a number of books available at Amazon and Dharma Publications. These books include:

An Introduction to Transcendental Meditation: Improve Your Brain Functioning, Create Ideal Health, and Gain Enlightenment Naturally, Easily, Effortlessly by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, and Lincoln Akin Norton, Dharma Publications, 2016

Transcendental Meditation: A Scientist’s Journey to Happiness, Health, and Peace, Adapted and Updated from The Physiology of Consciousness: Part I by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, Dharma Publications, 2016

The Neurophysiology of Enlightenment: How the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program Transform the Functioning of the Human Body, Updated and Revised by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, Dharma Publications, 2016

Dharma Parenting: Understand Your Child’s Brilliant Brain for Greater Happiness, Health, Success, and Fulfillment by Robert Keith Wallace PhD, and Fredrick Travis PhD, Tarcher/Penguin 2016

Maharishi Ayurveda and Vedic Technology: Creating Ideal Health for the Individual and World, Adapted and Updated from The Physiology of Consciousness: Part 2 by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, Dharma Publications, 2016

Dharma Health and Beauty: A User-Friendly Introduction to Ayurveda, Book One of the Smith Family Saga by Samantha Wallace with Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, Dharma Publications, 2016

 About Author and Neuroscientist Dr. Fred Travis

Dr. Fred Travis is a world-renowned neuroscientist who conducted ground-breaking research on the study of consciousness, the mind-body connection and child development. He has lectured extensively on how to combat the harmful effects of stress by changing the state of our brain and consciousness.

During the last 23 years Dr. Travis has authored or co-authored 70 papers that investigate the relationship between brain patterns, conscious processes, and states of consciousness throughout all stages of the development of the brain from children to adults. His recent work has demonstrated that young and old people with higher level of EEG coherence perform better in sports and business, and report frequent experiences of higher states of consciousness. Dr. Travis received his Masters and PhD in Psychology from Maharishi University of Management in 1988. After a two-year post-doctoral position at University of California at Davis exploring brain changes during sleep, he returned to Maharishi University of Management to direct the EEG, Consciousness and Cognition Lab.

Dr. Travis accompanied film director David Lynch and physicist Dr. John Hagelin on a lecture tour, entitled “Consciousness, Creativity, and the Brain,” to a number of universities, including University of Southern California, UC Berkeley, the University of Oregon in Eugene, the University of Washington, Emerson College, Yale University, and Brown University where Dr. Travis gave live demonstrations showing how we can change our brain wave activity to create a more coherent and creative state of mind.

Dr. Travis has discovered brain wave patterns that characterize the growth of a more integrated and coherent style of brain functioning that is correlated with higher moral reasoning, higher happiness, greater emotional stability, and increased academic performance in children. This pattern is also seen in highly successful athletes and businessman. Dr. Travis is continuing to research the different style of brain functioning in children using a wide range of physiological and psychological test. When he is not in the lab, Fred plays tennis with his daughters, camps with his family, works in the garden, and remodels his home.  His rich home life permeates his writing and brings a smile to discussions of science.