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Consciousness

6 Ways To Go Beyond Programmed Conditioning & Change Your Life

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Okay, right off the bat: The choice of title was lofty. I can’t tell you how to go beyond your conditioning, because to completely do so is probably impossible. Whether we identify with or rebel against our roots, those roots are what influenced our earliest conception of reality and will forever be a part of us.

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thinkingFurthermore, to believe with conviction that one has transcended their conditioning—as if it’s some fixed point you can surpass with enough wisdom and vigilance—is to condemn oneself to introspective stagnation. If you ever think you’re a finished product and that you’ve got nothing more to learn about yourself, you’ll stop looking as closely for undiscovered backwoods [or back alleys, if that’s more your schtick] in your psyche, and stop questioning your beliefs and actions. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt; you’ll take your whole lifetime to figure out.

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We are each composites of our subjective experiences, after all. There is no “neutral” upbringing; none of us were raised in a cultural vacuum. The opportunity cost is every other possible time, place, body and family we could’ve been born into and shaped by instead.

So complete objectivity and self-awareness may not be a possible limit for anyone to breach. Does that mean the attempt is useless? Absolutely not. It’s all about the journey. As poet Robert Browning wrote:

A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?

I’d always regarded myself as a pretty free-thinking individual—it wasn’t until I was completely removed from everything I knew that I realized how much my social identity had shaped me, and how my environment molded my incontrovertible [or so I thought at the time] convictions about the world. Learning for the first time that many of my beliefs about the world and myself were subjective—malleable and optional—opened me up both to a newfound spectrum of possibility, and a newfound humility, in navigating the world. Free-thinking isn’t a personality trait—it’s a never-ending process.

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So here it is: as non-partisan and universal a take on methodical introspection and prescribed self-experimentation as this little girl can muster, divided into six parts, none of which require you to spend money, share my views of the world, or reinvent your lifestyle.

The only testimony for these tips I can give is my own—in recent years I’ve developed a healthier relationship with myself—both forgiving and stern, have dispelled much of the formless anger I used to cling to when my life didn’t feel quite right, am prescribing myself a completely customized life rather than one shaped by the norms of my time, and am finally hopeful of managing the depression I’ve long denied being enslaved by.

1. DECONSTRUCT YOUR VALUES
First, some analysis. This may seem tedious or annoying, but it’s worth it. Consider:

  • Topical issues you feel strongly about one way or another, be it venture capitalism, religion, astrology, veganism, manners, psychiatry, social media, patriotism, parenting, push-up bras, censorship, party drugs, human nature, social responsibility…whatever gets you somehow
  • People and groups that you harbor strong feelings toward, from disgust to hopeless fascination
  • “Givens”—principles you think are self-evident, or universal to existence, reality, society, morality, rather than matters of opinion
  • Things that gross you out, annoy you, or make you uncomfortable on a basic, even irrational level: open-mouthed chewing, polyamory, spiders, girls with armpit hair, people who speak in Ebonics—anything that offends or embarrasses you

Dig down to the roots of your beliefs. Ask yourself why and why not—repeatedly. Ask where your attitudes first came from—you weren’t born with them. Take nothing for granted and explain yourself to a blank slate. Note any resistance or frustration on your part, and ask where it’s coming from.

devilsadvocatePlay devil’s advocate and antagonize your views with an equal and opposite force. Push yourself to flesh out perspectives you would normally find reprehensible. Remember that arguing a side in the privacy of your own mind doesn’t mean you have to agree with it at the end of the day—no matter how well you manage to argue it.

Consider which of your beliefs have changed over time, and what prompted the change. Even more so, consider which of your beliefs have stayed consistent—question those hardest. Wikipedia defines confirmation bias as the tendency of people to “favor information that confirms their beliefs or hypotheses”—to the extent of blocking out opposing evidence. Try to catch yourself rationalizing your way out of confronting emotional or conditioned reactions, answering difficult questions, or admitting a gap in your knowledge or logic. Notice when your arguments sound shaky or extreme. Be ruthless and thorough. Deliberately search for cognitive dissonance, and keep asking why like a two-year-old until your head explodes.

2. REPROGRAM YOUR INFLUENCES

We all have a tendency to look at media and news sources that confirm our own attitudes—so make a conscious effort to diversify what information you’re exposed to, even if it frustrates you at first.

This doesn’t have to be dramatic—just small substitutions here and there.

  • If you read Richard Dawkins, follow up with some of C.S. Lewis’ short theological writings [he was regarded as a “skeptical Christian”]
  • Browse news articles and podcasts with a different political slant than your own, or ones from networks in other countries
  • Explore philosophical schools of thought—even if it’s just on Wikipedia
  • Explore history and anthropology to see how value systems have changed over time and place—even if it just means watching the odd documentary or TV show on science or culture when you’re stuck home with a cold [my most recent sick-in-bed favorite was Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown]

In America, we’re often plagued with an assumption that we already know enough about what the rest of the world is like and won’t benefit from further investigation, caricaturizing other cultures with what little we do know, or think we know, about them. Assume ignorance on your part; be a sponge.

Look at how others conceptualize or value things like success, sexuality, philanthropy, natural laws and science, and how the citizens of other developed countries feel about their social and political systems—not just at how you feel about them. Remember that you can be receptive to things, and even accept them, without liking them. If you previously had no interest in such things, this may be a forced effort at first—but over time you may develop more curiosity about history, anthropology, political theory, science, pop culture, mysticism, or philosophy.

3. CONNECT WITH THE ALIENS

It’s natural to put certain walls up against people we don’t relate to, to stereotype and dismiss them as dumb or crazy rather than investing our candor: in an era where we come in contact with tens or even hundreds of thousands of people in a lifetime, compartmentalizing people is valuable, and helps us make educated guesses in new situations to avoid wasting time or starting conflicts.

However, with exposure to so many people, and with the increasingly flexible and isolated lifestyles afforded by modern life [frequent career changes, working from home, urban living, and—of course—escaping to the Internet], it’s become much easier to avoid anyone who irritates or confuses us, and to seek out only those who will validate our opinions with their agreement, at the risk of potentially harmful stubbornness.

Wordspy.com defines cyberbalkanization as “the division of the Internet into narrowly focused groups of like-minded individuals who dislike or have little patience for outsiders.”

We do this in person, too—tuning out or even dehumanizing those we perceive as belonging to a stereotype we find alienating: rednecks, bros, New Agers…again, this sort of filter can keep our interactions efficient, even safe.

But look, if all you do is preach to the choir, you’re condemning yourself to intellectual atrophication. How lazy is it to discuss one’s beliefs only with those predisposed to agree? It’s a cushion.

speech

In every camp, there are extremists—and they’re often the loudest members. Just because someone is an extremist or bad at defending their beliefs doesn’t necessarily mean the belief itself is invalid— just as the ability to logically and persuasively present a case doesn’t mean it’s right [ask any Speech and Debate kid]. Ability to argue is a reflection of an individual.

Keep in mind that, within that same camp, there are probably also reasonable people who are probably not that different from you.

Try and find some of them. If you can find people with radically different backgrounds, lifestyles and values whom you can respect, or even relate to, they can challenge you to think and grow in ways your more like-minded friends might never be able to. Having an open discourse with someone completely unlike ourselves—or holding radically different viewpoints—can expose us to our shadow aspects [a la Jungian psychology: the parts of ourselves that we, ourselves, find hardest to see, instead projecting them onto others] and prejudices we didn’t realize we had.

And in general, make a conscious effort to consider what is being said, separately from who’s saying it. Discipline yourself to judge ideas on their own merit—regardless of whether they came from a friend, your mother, an co-worker you can’t stand, someone you look up to, a guy in a Hugo Boss suit, or a bum with “Stupid” tattooed on his forehead [hey, I’ve met him].

4. UNPLUG YOURSELF

You don’t have to meditate or become a hermit, but cultivate periods of passive observation and silence.

  • If you commute, turn off your phone or radio and leave your book at home next time. Even better, do this on your next long stint in a car, bus, or airplane—sit with yourself for a couple hours of more
  • Ditch the GPS and try to find new places the old-fashioned way, paying closer attention to your surroundings
  • Sans-headphones and cell phone, make time to wander aimlessly around familiar neighborhoods, or a part of town you’ve never bothered to walk through. It doesn’t need to be anywhere exciting—the key here isn’t excitement, but observational solitude. Make no plans or expectations, but oblige any whims and see where they take you

Instead of creating your own reality, which we are all doing constantly, give yourself time to be receptive—to observe the world around you, as well as your thoughts and reactions to it. Adapt to what’s around you, instead of forcing what’s around you to adapt to you.

5. GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE

newGo somewhere that freaks you out—even if it’s just the other side of town, or some local establishment you never would’ve dreamed of visiting. Do something that freaks you out—even if it’s just dressing differently or not wearing makeup. Casually reach out to that old friend you’ve thought about lately, even if it feels socially awkward or you’re not sure what to say.

Try a few things, by yourself, that are completely alien and somewhat uncomfortable to you, whether that means exploring soap-making, ecstatic dance, ghost towns, churches, ecovillages, bookstores or hiking trails. If something makes you cringe—but doesn’t completely go against your principles or put your life at risk—and you can sample it in a day, do it.

When you can, plan to go on a trip somewhere new—not necessarily far, or for long, just somewhere unfamiliar—and don’t cushion yourself with plans or money. Allot a small budget—just enough to keep you safe and get you home—but won’t allow you to default to the same old hotel rooms, local friends or relatives, restaurants, or shopping. Be a participant, rather than a tourist. Open yourself up to impulse and coincidence—with no plans in the way, you won’t have any reason to decline good opportunities as they come up.

6. INTERROGATIVE INTROSPECTION

This might be the hardest part—once we become too comfortable seeing ourselves in a certain light, as being this-or-that sort of person, we’re more prone to overlooking evidence to the contrary, which in turn makes us prone to blind spots in our self-perception [circling back once again to confirmation bias and the shadow aspect of Jungian psychology]. In the words of Oscar Wilde, “to define is to limit.”

guesswhoThe 1967 movie “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” is a great example of this: a couple, believing themselves to be very progressive San Franciscans, learn their daughter’s fiancé is black [but otherwise completely perfect by their standards]—and are confronted with racial prejudices they didn’t even realize they were harboring [and so on].

Think of what kind of person you are—according to yourself. How do you define yourself—by your social identity, interests, or personality traits? Do you live up to your own standards? How do you think you come across to others? If you met yourself, what would you think? Is there anything about yourself that you don’t like—and, if so, why not? Can you change it? Should you? If there are traits you can’t stand about other people—see if you can find them in yourself, if you look hard. Are there lies you tell yourself, things you gloss over?

What do you want most in life? Do you have those things? If so, are you happy? If not, can you do anything about it? Whatever you seek in your own life—the pursuit of knowledge, discipline, pleasure, wealth, love, enlightenment, influence, or service, ask yourself why you seek it. What do you stand to gain by attaining it—and what would come next, if you did? If you believe in seeking truth over happiness [or vice versa]—ask why that is, and whether it makes you a better, happier person by your own definition.

While I’m not encouraging self-deception, it can be argued that Virtue and Meaning are subjective and, therefore, personal choices. If your life doesn’t feel quite right, maybe you’re holding onto a paradigm or value system that isn’t helping you. Maybe you don’t need or want what you think you do—maybe you once did, but don’t anymore. Maybe disenfranchisement, even depression, are partially symptoms to a larger core issue.

The point of all this isn’t necessarily to change you in some particular way—or even at all. The trick is to leave no stone unturned, to push your imagination and critical thinking as far as they’ll go, to make no unexamined assumptions about who we are, or take for granted our beliefs of life’s workings. Our minds, our worlds, are inherently subjective. After all, how many times have you looked back on something you’d done in the past and thought, “Damn, I didn’t know anything back then”?

———————————————————
ABOUT THE WRITER
A committed bonne vivante bearing scatological proclivities, Bumpkin Wolfgang quit a cushy office job in favor of running off to the mountains, where she spent six months building trails and digging cat holes at 13,000 feet. The experience irretrievably addled her brains, and she’s since been on an unstructured pilgrimage to nowhere in particular, which has led her to work as a ski instructor, massage therapist, freelance model, golf cart mechanic, and so on. She believes in candor, experimentation, and catharsis, and generally enjoys this whole Being Alive Thing. Her table manners border on obscene. You can reach Bumpkin via email [debonairdirtbag@gmail.com] or peruse her blog [http://debonairdirtbag.blogspot.com].

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Consciousness

Extraordinary Cases of Children Remembering Their Past Lives & Proving It

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Reincarnation is a fascinating subject that has remained on the fringe of scientific study for too long. Fortunately, it has recently begun to attract serious interest from the scientific community. Decades ago, American astronomer and astrobiologist Carl Sagan stated that “there are three claims in the [parapsychology] field which, in my opinion, deserve serious study,” with one being “that young children sometimes report details of a previous life, which upon checking turn out to be accurate and which they could not have known about in any other way than reincarnation.” Fast forward to today, and amazing discoveries have been made, as multiple researchers have taken it upon themselves to study this intriguing and inexplicable — at least from a materialist scientific worldview — phenomenon. Subjects like reincarnation belong to the non-material sciences, an area of research that deserves more attention. As Nikola Tesla himself said, “the day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

University of Virginia psychiatrist Jim Tucker is arguably the world’s leading researcher on this topic, and in 2008, he published a review of cases that were suggestive of reincarnation in the journal Explore.

A typical reincarnation case, described by Jim, includes subjects reporting a past life experience. The interesting thing is that 100 percent of subjects who report past life remembrance are children. The average age when they start remembering their past life is at 35 months, and their descriptions of events and experiences from their past life are often extensive and remarkably detailed. Tucker has pointed out that these children show very strong emotional involvement when they speak about their experiences; some actually cry and beg their parents to be taken to what they say is their previous family.

According to Tucker:

The subjects usually stop making their past-life statements by the age of six to seven, and most seem to lose the purported memories. This is the age when children start school and begin having more experiences in the current life, as well as when they tend to lose their early childhood memories.

Anonymous

Eli Lasch, a prominent physician in Israel who served as a senior consultant in the coordination of health services in the Gaza Strip. He passed away in 2009, but before he did, he was investigating a supposed reincarnation case in which a three-year old boy claimed to have remembered a past life. In this life, he remembered being struck by a big blow to the head with an axe, and having a long, red birthmark on his head.

The present-day boy, whose name remained confidential throughout the entire study, also had a birthmark in the exact same spot, which is interesting because multiple studies, like the one published in Explorepoint out how shared birthmarks are common to children who remember their past lives.

The boy’s father and a number of other relatives in the village decided to visit neighbouring communities to see if his past life identity could be established and Dr. Lasch was invited to join. On this journey, they visited multiple villages until the boy remembered the right one. He remembered his own first and last name, as well as the first and last name of his murderer.

According to the Institute for the Integration of Science, Intuition, and Spirit:

A member of this community, who had heard the boy’s story, said that he had known the man that the boy said that he was in the past lifetime. This man had disappeared 4 years earlier and was never found. It was assumed that this person must have come to some misfortune as it was known that individuals were killed or taken prisoner in the border areas between Israel and Syria for being suspected of being spies.

The group went through the village and at one point the boy pointed out this past life house. Curious bystanders gathered around and suddenly the boy walked up to a man and called him by name. The man acknowledged that the boy correctly named him and the boy then said:

“I used to be your neighbor. We had a fight and you killed me with an ax.”

Dr. Lasch then observed that this man’s face suddenly became white as a sheet.  The 3-year-old than stated:

“I even know where he buried my body.”

The boy then led the group, which included the accused murderer, into fields that were located nearby. The boy stopped in front of a pile of stones and reported:

“He buried my body under these stones and the ax over there.”

Sam Taylor

Sam Taylor is one child Tucker studied and wrote about. Born 18 months after his paternal grandfather died, he first began recalling details of a past life when he was just over a year old:

When he was 1.5 years old, he looked up as his father was changing his diaper and said, “When I was your age, I used to change your diapers.” He began talking more about having been his grandfather. He eventually told details of his grandfather’s life that his parents felt certain he could not have learned through normal means, such as the fact that his grandfather’s sister had been murdered and that his grandmother had used a food processor to make milkshakes for his grandfather every day at the end of his life. (source)

Pretty remarkable, isn’t it?

Ryan – A Boy From The Midwest

Ryan’s story began when he was 4 years old, when he was experiencing frequent, horrible nightmares. Once he turned five, he made an announcement to his mother. He told her, “I used to be somebody else.”

He would often talk about “going home” to Hollywood and would beg his mother to take him there. He told her detailed stories about meeting stars like Rita Hayworth, dancing in Broadway productions, and working for an agency where people would frequently change their names. He even remembered that the name of the street he used to live on had the word “rock” in it.

Ryan’s mother Cyndi said that “his stories were so detailed and they were so extensive, that it just wasn’t like a child could have made it up.”

Cyndi decided to check out some books about Hollywood from her local library, thinking that maybe something inside would catch her son’s attention, and it did. Cyndi said that once she found the below picture — of the man Ryan claims to have been in his past life — everything changed.

They decided to seek Tucker’s help, who took on the case and started his research. After only approximately two weeks, a Hollywood film archivist was able to confirm the identity of the man in the photo. The picture was from a film titled “Night After Night,” and the man was Marty Martyn, who had been a movie extra and then later became a powerful Hollywood agent before passing away in 1964.

Martyn had in fact danced on Broadway, worked at an agency where stage names were often created for new clients, traveled overseas to Paris, and lived at 825 North Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills. These were all details that Ryan was able to communicate to Tucker before they learned the identity of who he described; for example, Ryan knew that the address had “Rox” in it. Ryan was also able to recall how many children Martyn had and how many times he was married. More remarkable still is the fact that Ryan knew Martyn had two sisters, but Martyn’s own daughter did not. Ryan also remembers an African-American maid; Marty and his wife employed several. These are just a few of 55 incredible facts that Ryan can remember from his previous life as Marty Martyn, though as he ages, his memories become increasingly dim.

Chanai Choomalaiwong

Chanai is a boy from Thailand, who, when he was three years old, began saying that he had been a teacher named Bua Kai who had been shot and killed as he rode his bike to school. He pleaded and begged to be taken to Bua Kai’s parents, who he felt were his own parents. He knew the village where they lived, and eventually convinced his grandmother to take him there. According to the research:

His grandmother reported that after they got off the bus, Chanai led her to a house where an older couple lived. Chanai appeared to recognize the couple, who were the parents of Bua Kai Lawnak, a teacher who had been shot and killed on the way to school five years before Chanai was born.

The fascinating thing is that Kai and Chanai had something in common. Kai, who was shot from behind, had small, round wounds on the back of his head, typical of an entry wound, and larger exit wounds on his forehead; Chanai was born with two birthmarks, a small, round birthmark on the back of his head, and a larger, irregularly shaped one towards the front.

The Case of P.M

P.M was a boy whose half brother had died from neuroblastoma 12 years before his birth. The half brother was diagnosed after he began limping, and then suffered a pathological fracture on his left tibia. He underwent a biopsy of a nodule on his scalp, just above his right ear, and received chemotherapy through a central line in his right external jugular vein. At the time of his death he was two years old, and blind in his left eye.

P.M was born with three birthmarks that match the lesions on his half brother, as well as with a swelling 1cm in diameter above his right ear and a dark, slanting mark on the lower right anterior surface of his neck. He also had what’s known as a ‘corneal leukoma,’ which caused him to be virtually blind in his left eye. As soon as P.M. started to walk, he did so with a limp, sparing his left side, and at around the age of 4.5 years he spoke to his mother about wanting to return to the family’s previous home, describing it with great accuracy. He also spoke of his brother’s scalp surgery even though he had never been told of it before.

Kendra Carter 

When Kendra began swimming lessons at the age of 4, she immediately developed an emotional attachment to her coach. Shortly after she started her lessons, she began saying that the coach’s baby had died and that the coach had been sick and pushed her baby out. Kendra’s mother was always at her lessons, and when she asked Kendra how she knew these things, her reply was, “I’m the baby that was in her tummy.” Kendra went on to describe an abortion, and her mother later found out that the coach had indeed had an abortion 9 years before Kendra was even born:

Kendra became happy and bubbly when she was with the coach but quiet otherwise, and her mother let her spend more and more time with the coach until she was staying with her three nights a week. Eventually, the coach had a falling out with Kendra’s mother and cut off contact with the family. Kendra then went into a depression and did not speak for 4.5 months. The coach reestablished more limited contact at that point, and Kendra slowly began talking again and participating in activities. (source)

James Leininger

At the time of this case, James was a 4 year old boy from Louisiana. And he believed he was once a World War II pilot who had been shot down over Iwo Jima, an island that the United States fought to capture in 1945.

His parents first realized this when James started to have nightmares, waking up and screaming “airplane crash” and “plane on fire.” He knew details about the WWII aircraft that would be impossible for a youngster to know. For example, when his mother referred to an object on the bottom of a model plane as a bomb, she was corrected by James, who informed her that it was a ‘drop tank.’ In anther instance, he and his parents were watching a documentary, and the narrator called a Japanese plane a Zero, when James insisted that it was Tony. In both cases, James turned out to be right.

James also insisted that in his previous life, he had flown off a ship named the Natoma, which, as the Leiningers discovered, was a WW11 aircraft carrier (USS Natoma Bay). James said that his previous name was also James, and shockingly, in the USS Natoma Bay squadron, there was a pilot names James Huston who had been killed in action over the Pacific ocean.

Dr. Tucker obtained additional documents for several of James Leininger’s statements, and they were made before anyone in the family had even heard of James Huston or the USS Natoma Baby.

Ask yourself, how could a two-year-old in Louisiana remember being a World War II pilot shot down over the Pacific?

The biggest skeptic of this case was the boy’s father, who remarked that he was “the original skeptic, but the information James gave us was so striking and unusual. If someone wants to look at the facts and challenge them, they’re welcome to examine everything we have.” (source)

An Explanation?

My Take On Reincarnation

I personally, wholeheartedly believe that reincarnation is real, but I don’t think it’s the only option for what takes place after death. I believe some souls can reincarnate, as we’ve seen above, into another life. I also believe some can reincarnate onto other planets, as beings we would consider to be alien. Furthermore, I believe reincarnation is just one option for a soul; perhaps they have the option to travel to other dimensions and experience a life there, or to completely forgo reincarnation and experience life in the non-physical realm, free from a physical body. Perhaps a soul must continue to reincarnate until certain lessons are learned to move to another ‘level?’ I also believe that there is a common place where all souls come from, so perhaps some of us go there. I believe, as Plato did, that when the soul enters into a physical body, it forgets where it came from, and has no recollection of that previous experience. I don’t believe this material world is the only one in existence; there are worlds out there that are beyond our physical senses. Perhaps we come to know them in the afterlife?

I can only speculate, of  course, but I truly don’t think reincarnation is the only option for a soul leaving its body. Perhaps the soul has a choice to reincarnate? Perhaps there are other options as well.

Sources:

https://med.virginia.edu/perceptual-studies/wp-content/uploads/sites/267/2015/11/REI37.pdf

http://www.rd.com/health/conditions/chilling-reincarnation-stories/

http://uvamagazine.org/articles/the_science_of_reincarnation

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Consciousness

How I Obtained A Conscientious Exemption From Mask-Wearing At School For My Child

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    I was able to obtain a conscientious exemption from mask-wearing in public school for my 6-year old son.

  • Reflect On:

    Will these Covid measures and the incoming promise of mandatory vaccines serve to push a critical mass of humanity to learn about, and ultimately stand up for, their natural and innate freedom of choice?

I have studied the principles of natural law, and I am clear that the inherent freedom of choice of every individual is the ultimate foundation of life on Earth. How these principles became the basis for real-world action occurred when I heard that my school board had decided, quite of their own accord, while professing to be ‘following the direction’ of the public health office of a neighboring district, that children in grades 1-3 in their schools would also be required to wear masks in school.

I will give you the whole story of my quest for a conscientious exemption from mask-wearing for my son as I am not entirely sure which of my actions actually turned the result in my favor. I do this to empower everyone with a full understanding of what we are dealing with in terms of school mask mandates and the manner in which school boards are trying to implement them. I am in Ontario, Canada so things might be different in different countries, but I believe that the ultimate application of natural law and our natural freedom of choice can and should be pursued anywhere in the world.

My journey began with an internet search of my school board, a phone number of the communications office which undersigned the announcement of the mandate, and my phone call to that office asking how I would apply for a conscientious exemption. Through voice mail the officer said I should be in touch with the principal, who said I should be in touch with the superintendent, who said I should speak to the trustee, who said I should go back to the superintendent. This is a process that went on for two weeks and ultimately gets us to the first day of school and this letter I sent to all the trustees who, it seemed to me, made up the school board and hence collectively made the ultimate decision that was affecting me.

My Letter to the Trustees

Dear Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board Trustees,

Here it is, Tuesday, September 8th, 2020, the day that DPCDSB schools open, and I have not received the information I need to make an informed decision on whether or not I should send my son to school. He is slated to begin the Grade 1 French Immersion program at St. Pio de Pietrelcina.

After initially voicing my concerns about mandatory masking and applying for an exemption on conscientious grounds to a school board representative I was directed to the principal of St. Pio de Pietrelcina. She was polite and took my concerns seriously, but said that she had no latitude to make any decisions on exemptions on conscientious grounds. She suggested I speak to the superintendant.

I spoke first to the superintendant’s assistant, who was polite and took my concerns seriously, and said I would have to speak to the superintendant.

I spoke to the superintendant, who was polite and took my concerns seriously, but said that they had not received any ‘direction’ from health officials about qualification for medical exemptions. When I reiterated the point that I am seeking a conscientious, and not a medical exemption, she said that I should talk to the trustee for my school’s area.

I spoke to the trustee, who was polite and took my concerns seriously, but didn’t feel he was in any position to advance my cause. He referred me back to the superintendant, who, according to him, would contact me to let me know how I can make my request for an exemption to the school board.

I understand that these are trying times and things are changing rapidly, but I still believe you would agree that I’m getting the runaround. And the school year has already started.

So I will simply make my case in this letter, and I hope this letter will be able to cut through the bureaucracy and be read by all DPCDSB trustees, to whom it is addressed. I am requesting an official response undersigned by at least a majority of the school board members, who are directly responsible for the fact that, at present, my son is being forced to wear a mask at school in order to receive a public education.

Request for a Conscientious Exemption for my son from wearing a mask in school  

My fervent belief is that all directives related to ‘mandatory’ mask wearing in Canada are illegal and infringe on the rights of individual Canadians, based on the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

However, in this letter I will speak specifically to my son’s case. At present, the DPCDSB has decided to unilaterally mandate mask-wearing for Grade 1 students (this particular decision was not imposed upon them by Peel Public Health). And so my son, who is supposed to begin the Grade 1 French Immersion program at St. Pio de Pietrelcina in a few days, is being forced to wear a mask in order to get a public education.

I will cite a small portion of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and explain how it applies in this case:

1.      The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

2.       Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

I believe that forcing my 6-year old son to wear a mask may cause psychological and physical harm to him. Therefore, as his legal guardian, I cannot in good conscience allow this to happen. In mandating mask-wearing for my son, you violate my freedom of conscience as well as my son’s freedom of conscience, as he does not want to wear a mask.

Two more points, while not essential to my argument, serve to highlight my belief that the decision by the DPCDSB to mandate masks for young children in school shows an egregious lack of responsibility and concern for the health and well-being of the children who have been entrusted under their care:

1.       There is NO science, meaning no randomized control trials, which suggest that wearing a mask might have any impact in reducing the spread of a virus. In fact, any studies investigating the ability of masks to stop the spread of a virus have concluded that masks are not effective at all in this regard. (source) Mask mandates are based on the ‘opinions’ of Public Health Officers (political appointees) that ‘mask-wearing may have benefits’, opinions which are not grounded in the science.

2.       The statistics, which clearly show that low infectivity rates and a virtually zero mortality rate among children, would suggest that what would really be in the best interest of children’s health and well-being would be a normal return to school, without masks, distancing, cohorting, sanitizing, and any other measures. This has been the belief of many researchers and scientists in that very field of study whose views have been suppressed or marginalized in the media.

In other words, going back to section 1 of the Charter, I do not believe these measures have been ‘demonstrably justified.’

That being said, the main point of this letter is to get an answer to my request that my son be permitted to attend school without a mask, based on my conscientious objection. If denied, my son will not be going to school and I will begin to consider notices of liability to those on the DPCDSB responsible for implementing policy, who in my opinion have far overstepped their authority in attempting to enforce mandatory masking in their schools, especially for students in Grades 1-3 which was not imposed upon them by Peel Public Health and was a unilateral decision.

Thank you,

Richard Enos

The Response

Now it becomes interesting, when you are going about the business of standing up for your inherent rights, to wonder what drives otherwise busy and difficult-to-reach people into responding and suddenly having answers.

It was either the same day or the next morning that the vice-principal of the school contacted me and told me he was going to send the exemption form to me and that I should fill it out. I made it clear to him that I was requesting a conscientious and not a medical exemption, and he told me that I should fill it out nonetheless so that the school authority would have on record exactly what kind of exemption I am seeking, and I agreed I would do so.

Meanwhile, one of the trustees forwarded my email to the school board’s director of education, saying that this would end the ‘runaround’ I had been experiencing. And sure enough, the director of education sent me an email the same day, saying the following:

I am aware that the school has recently reached out to you to provide you with the documentation required to request an exemption. Given that you have identified the adverse negative psychological impact of wearing a mask on your child, I would encourage you to request an exemption.

Now I was intrigued by the phrasing ‘you have identified the adverse negative psychological impact…’ given that all I said was that I believed wearing a mask ‘may cause psychological and physical harm to him.’ So in essence, she reframes my conscientious exemption as a medical exemption.

I nonetheless filled out my exemption form, being as explicit as I possibly could that I was filing a conscientious objection. In fact, reading it, I don’t think that anyone can confuse this with a ‘medical’ exemption (the part I wrote is in bold and italics).

My Exemption Request

MASK ACCOMMODATION/EXEMPTION REQUEST FORM

I am requesting an exemption for my child from wearing a non-medical face mask while at school, (which includes indoor during the school day, transportation and in any before and after school program for the following reason(s):

REASON

I believe wearing a mask is potentially harmful to my son’s psychological and physical health. I cannot in good conscience allow my son to be required to wear a mask while in school. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms indicates the following:

  1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.
  2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms: a) freedom of conscience and religion;

Based on the current science and current statistics I have researched (I do not include them here but would be willing to provide them if requested), I contend that mandating mask-wearing for children in school has not been ‘demonstrably justified,’ thereby liberating me to act in good conscience and demand that my son be exempt from having to wear a mask while in school.

ⅅ I have attached supporting documentation (please note that medical documentation is not required)

The Response

I sent the document and reminded the vice-principal in my email that my son would not be attending school until this exemption had been confirmed.

Lo and behold, this message from the school was in my inbox the next morning:

Hello

Kellen’s mask exemption has been approved.

His first day back at school will be Monday September 14th 2020

But this is not the end of the story. I found this email to be oddly informal for a matter of such obvious importance to me. It was not undersigned by anyone, only the school signature was underneath, and there was no signed copy of the exemption form attached, which on the second page had checkboxes indicating who had been informed of my son’s exemption (teacher, bus driver, librarian, etc.)

This was Wednesday, September 9th, and because of staggered entry my son was only to start the following Monday, having already missed his orientation day. I immediately sent a reply stating that I wanted to know who actually sent me the email, and who had approved the exemption. By Monday I had not heard back from the school, and consequently I kept my son home. The school called and left a message inquiring about my son’s absence. In response, I wrote a rather sharply-worded email explaining that I will not be sending my son to school until my questions were answered.

I received a phone call a few hours later from a very agitated principal. I got her to say that the email was ‘from the school,’ and therefore, yes, ‘from her’. As to who approved the exemption, she said she didn’t know. She said she sent the exemption form to the superintendent and was later sent a curt email that the exemption had been ‘approved’. That’s all she knew. She was not at all happy with the general lack of information she was receiving from the school board. I did my best to help bring a conciliatory tone to the conversation and noted that it seemed like the principal was more a victim than a cause of this confusion.

And so I was left to assume that the Director of Education must have approved the exemption, since the Superintendent told me that she herself didn’t have the power to approve an exemption based on conscience. I sent an email to the Director of Education, demanding to know who had approved my son’s exemption. You wouldn’t believe what her answer was:

I regret the experience you are having regarding your request for a mask exemption.  The principal is the individual who has the authority to approve a mask exemption.  That said, it is ultimately my responsibility to ensure principals have all the necessary information to carry out the responsibilities we task them with.  I will continue to work to ensure that our principals have a fulsome understanding of the process and support them in implementation.

Where I am at Now

This email was the final nail in the coffin for me. I spoke with my wife and we both agreed that we didn’t feel comfortable having my son in an institution that demonstrated such a lack of accountability from top to bottom. We have pulled our son out of public school and have begun homeschooling him. However, I know this is not an option for many, especially for those whose children indicate that they want to go to school and see their friends. So this article is more for those parents, to come to an understanding of what they are dealing with and what their rights are.

The way I see it, these bureaucrats are all part of a top-down control structure, from the Ministry of Education through the public health offices, and down through the school boards’ director of education, trustees, superintendents, and principals. One of the necessary qualifications for these jobs is a willingness to take and implement orders from above, rather than asserting critical and independent thought. At all levels people know that opposing directives from above based on their independent thought would likely mean termination.

Consequently, I see these people are acting (and reacting) from the state of fear that they have been subjected to. I’m not really interested in continuing to investigate these people to try to figure out who is lying and who might be liable for damages. My experience confirms for me the reality that this whole interlocked, top-down system of education, as with other systems under government control, has a clear and specific agenda to augment their control and to willingly deceive people about their rights and freedoms protected by the charter.

The way they are doing it is by forcing those lower down the ladder to actually assume the legal responsibility for enacting and enforcing these measures, without giving those people any choice as to whether or not they actually believe it is good to implement them. Speaking to all levels of the school board was an exercise in a perpetual ‘passing of the buck’ where I could not find a single person willing to stand behind or take ownership of any of these mandates or the justification for them.

The good news here is that this is a situation ripe for all individuals, and particularly parents of young children, to exercise their rights of conscience and request (read: demand) a conscientious exemption from mask-wearing for their child. Of course it requires courage and persistence, and perhaps even a willingness to keep their child out of school as I did until the matter is resolved. But if you feel within you a burning desire to stand up for your rights under these circumstances, I hope my story has helped to equip you to do just that.

This article was originally published on my own website daocoaching.com.

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Consciousness

It’s Time Children & Teachers Learn About The Power of Emotional Intelligence

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Human emotions effect our physiology, state of mind as well as others around us. Modern day education does not teach children about the importance of emotion and how to regulate and deal with it.

  • Reflect On:

    How are children supposed to be mentally 'fit' as adults if they are not taught how to deal with the various emotions they experience throughout childhood?

What exactly is education? Today, many view it as an opportunity to learn, thrive, and excel in the world. Others see it as a necessary step toward obtaining a piece of paper that ensures one’s entrance into the professional world. Regardless of your take on it, however, one thing is certain: From a very early age we are forced into a system that demands our presence and attention for hours a day and for years of our life. Each child is required to learn an accepted version of reality in order to fit into the specific mould desired by the elite. Just like television, a large part of school is simply programming, and we don’t really learn much about the world — or ourselves.

Perhaps this is why Mark Twain said, “I have never let me education interfere with my intelligence,” or why Einstein told the world to “never confuse education with intelligence,” and that “education is what remains after one has forgotten one has learned in school.” 

School these days seems less about learning and more about rote memorization. Are we critically thinking enough, or questioning enough? Or are we simply being bred to become robots, all of us entering into the same human experience, “educating” ourselves in order to further perpetuate a broken system? We learn concepts and ideas that fit within the current paradigm and structure of society, but not about how to care for ourselves and become well-adjusted adults. Are we really being educated? Or simply groomed to become ‘good’ consumers?

“I don’t want a nation of thinkers, I want a nation of workers.”

– John D. Rockefeller

Another problem with the current education model, as pointed out by world renowned education and creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson, is that it was designed and conceived for a different age. Today, new information and discoveries are constantly emerging in all fields, questioning what we once thought we knew, and that includes how people learn. Unfortunately, unless you have an amazing teacher who is passionate about our world and new information, children suffer in this system.

In fact, prior to the late 1800s, education was a private practice that took place in private institutions or through home schooling. That all changed in 1902 when John D. Rockefeller created the General Education Board in conjunction with Frederick T. Gates, a close friend and business and personal advisor. The General Education Board was responsible for funding the American public school system, and provided over 100 million dollars in 1902 while continuing their support beyond 1902. If we follow the money, it becomes clear the general education board was responsible for the creation of the American public school system. Does education not play a large role in manipulating the consciousness of human beings?

“Knowledge has to come from somewhere, and that can’t be a classroom.”

Edward Snowden

Emotions in School

School is an experience primarily comprised of learning information — rarely questioning it, but rather taking it in as fact. While we learn about many subjects, very few of them have any real impact on our lives. There are absolutely no classes dealing with human emotions, for instance.

According to sociologist Thomas Scheff, a big supporter of emotional education from the University of California, many Western societies simply view emotions as an indulgence or a distraction, and less important than other things. And he’s right — we are often taught to bury our emotions so we can be more productive, and we are made to feel as though our emotions are not as relevant or important; they always seem to come secondary, if at all, especially within an educational setting. Scheff, among many others, believes that emotions provide valuable information, and yet we are taught not to listen to them. “Just as dangerous,” Scheff said, “is the practice of hiding one emotion behind another.” He has found that “men, in particular, tend to hide feelings of shame under anger, aggression and, far too often, violence.”

Many of the issues and problems that arise in our lives stem from the fact that we really have no idea how to process or address our emotions. As a result of this lack in our education, a child who has not paid any attention to their emotional body develops bad habits and behaviours to compensate, until they learn how to properly process their emotions, if they ever do.

How Do We Go About Doing This?

The good thing about teaching emotions is, they can be implemented into any class and any grade. For example, if you were trying to teach emotions in a class with a number of kids who are about to graduate high school, a great starting point might be to illustrate just how much of an effect emotions can have, not just on a mental level, where unresolved emotions lead to negative action, but on a physical level as well.  The Institute of Noetic Sciences is doing some great work in this area, creating more awareness about non-material science and how our thoughts/emotions have an observable effect on physical material reality. The mind-body connection is truly powerful, and we should be teaching people how to harness that power.

An internationally recognized nonprofit research and education organization, the Institute of HeartMath dedicates itself to helping people reduce stress, self-regulate emotions, and build energy and resilience for healthy, happy lives. HeartMath tools, technology, and training teach people to rely on the intelligence of their hearts in concert with that of their minds at home, school, work, and play. They’ve discovered that emotional information is “actually coded and modulated” into the magnetic field that surrounds all living things.

As HeartMath Director of Research Dr. Rolin McCratey tells us, “By learning to shift our emotions, we are changing the information coded into the magnetic fields that are radiated by the heart, and that can impact those around us. We are fundamentally and deeply connected with each other and the planet itself.”

All of these facts, published researched papers, and more can be accessed at heartmath.org.

Related CE Article: What Science is Telling us About The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence

One the most popular programs to begin teaching emotions was developed in 2005 by Marc Brackett, David Caruso, and Robin Stern of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.

It’s called RULER.

“The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence uses the power of emotions to create a more effective and compassionate society. The Center conducts research and teaches people of all ages how to develop their emotional intelligence.” 

It’s currently being used in more than 1,000 schools in the U.S., implemented for grades k-8.

The name, RULER, is an acronym for its five goals: recognizing emotions in oneself and others; understanding the causes and consequences of emotions; labelling emotional experiences with an accurate and diverse vocabulary; and expressing and regulating emotions in ways that promote growth.

What Exactly Are the Kids Taught? 

RULER teachers kids to to focus on the underlying theme of an emotion they are experiencing rather than wasting energy trying to define it precisely. Grace Rubenstein from Ted.Ideas reports:

When an emotion grips you, explains Stern, understanding its thematic contours can help “name it to tame it.” Even though anger is experienced differently by different people, she explains, “the theme underlying anger is the same. It’s injustice or unfairness. The theme that underlies disappointment is an unmet expectation. The theme that underlies frustration is feeling blocked on your way to a goal. Pinning down the theme can “help a person be seen and understood and met where she is,” says Stern.

Just taking the time to contemplate an emotion when you feel it, and think about why it might be arising, is critical for emotional health. Typing these words here and now, I still find it unbelievable that we have chosen not to deal with such an important aspect of what it means to be a human being. Emotions are something all of us experience, yet we have no guidelines or advice on what we’re supposed to do with them.

Rubenstein offers an example of how RULER functions in the classroom:

RULER’s lessons are woven into all classes and subjects. So, for example, if “elated’ is the emotional vocabulary word under discussion, a teacher would ask students in an American history class to link “elated” to the voyage of Lewis and Clark. Instruction reaches beyond the classroom, too; kids are prompted to talk with their parents or caregivers about when they last felt elated. Researchers at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence has found RULER schools tend to see less-frequent bullying, lower anxiety and depression, more student leadership and higher grades. So why isn’t emotional education the norm rather than the exception?

Emotions are something all of us experience, all the time, every single day. They can be confusing, and hard to navigate, especially when they’re negative. By including emotional education into the school system, I believe future generations would be far less depressed, angry, and confused. They would be better equipped to handle difficult situations in their lives, and find it much easier to express their feelings in a healthy, productive way.

There’s still a long way to go when it comes to understanding human emotions, and how to teach/discuss them in the classroom at different grade levels, but RULER is an amazing step in the right direction and I hope we see more programs like this being developed in the future.

 

 

 

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