Five hundred years ago Descartes introduced the idea that the mind is something separate from the body, and this unfortunate construct had caused mischief ever since. A more modern view is that the mind is not something that our body has so much as something that our body does.
Because our minds are actually “embodied” in our bodies, we daily observe that our minds affect and direct our bodies. But this is a two-way connection, and our bodies less obviously affect our minds. In particular, what we do with our bodies can powerfully influence the workings of our minds. Just ask anyone who meditates.
Because our bodies are designed to move, it’s not surprising that forcing kids to sit still for most of a school day might affect their mental lives, and this can cause problems for at least some students. One such problem is that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may be exacerbated. Indeed, absent our fixation on kids sitting still for most of the school day ADHD might be a much less common diagnosis. Although more research is needed, it seems likely that active sitting may be a drug free approach to helping kids who struggle with ADHD.
And it’s not just kids. Daniel’s observation that sitting immobile for long periods made his body more ridged and his mind more anxious is a story we’ve heard often. By allowing the body to flow, active sitting can allow the mind to more easily find its flow as well.
So, it turns out that ADHD isn’t just a kid thing, and active sitting may not be just an adult thing.