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Why I Chose To Un-School My Son

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Now more than ever before our society is seeing the need to take matters into our own hands and not rely on others to get the job done for us. The topic of un-schooling has become quite popular and with good reason.

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According to Wikipedia:

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“Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. Unschooling students learn through their natural life experiences including play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the most personal learning is, the more meaningful, well-understood and, therefore, useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in the education of each unique child.”

I couldn’t agree more. It’s about taking the reigns in our children’s education to ensure that they are not just getting a good one but they have the opportunity to see the great joy of learning. After six years of leaving it up to the system, my son lost that great joy.

All Children Love To Learn

All kids love to learn and my son was not excluded from that. After a couple years of school, I noticed that school didn’t feel like a place of learning for him. Learning was something that naturally manifested into his life. I taught him sign language before he ever said his first word. He loved books, songs, art, counting and all the stuff a child his age liked to learn about.

As early as grade one, he began showing signs that he would prefer not to go there. Recently I saw an episode of The Simpsons titled, ‘Lisa’s Sax’ from Season 9, which shows a flashback to Bart’s first day of kindergarten. Some of you PicMonkey Collagemay know the one. In the episode, Bart starts his first day saying, “School will be fun.” Shortly after, his initial enthusiasm is crushed by an uncaring and bitter teacher who says that he would be a failure at life, and he draws a violent sketch of his feelings. I feel that’s what it was like for my son (and many other kids) when they entered school for the first time. They go in with enthusiasm and excitement and end up with disdain and confusion.

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In grade four, he began to ask me questions regarding the structure of school. He told me he didn’t like that the kids were constantly being told to be quiet and sit still. He didn’t understand why he couldn’t eat when he was hungry. He was confused why he couldn’t learn about the things that he liked or was interested in. He asked why the teachers stopped using games and songs and kept play time to a scheduled time once a week. Prompted by my son’s inquires, I was compelled to do research about public education and its origins which I will share my findings later in this article.

When my son was in grade 5, I noticed that he didn’t understand basic math concepts. Concerned, I reached out to his teacher who told me that she hadn’t noticed. She said she would look into it and I put my faith in her that she would get to the bottom of the problem. She never did and before I could follow up with her as to why nothing had been done, the teachers went on strike until the following school year. My son entered grade 6 and more problems regarding school began to arise.

The Move That Changed Our Lives

By February of this year, school had created a horrible rift in our home life. When I would try to help my son with his homework, he would become extremely emotional and shut down. This made it almost impossible to help him. Eventually he had an emotional breakdown. He began by telling me that he was not going back to school. After asking him why he felt so strongly about this, he listed numerous reasons over the course of two hours. The things he brought up were that he felt like school was militarized. When asking why he felt like that he said because of the rules, the loudschools-as-factories sound of the bell and that they made them run outside in the winter rain and cold everyday even if they didn’t want to. He felt like school was boring because he never had the opportunity to learn what he was interested in. How many of you reading this ask your children what they learned about in school when they come home and they reply with, “Nothing” or “Boring stuff”? My son disagreed with how the kids were treated, specifically that the teachers were above the students and that they were like masters and the kids were like slaves (his words). He didn’t feel like what he was learning about would benefit him in any way, not now, not ever. He felt stupid and the pressure of “competing” with his peers was unbearable.

This incident deeply saddened me. From what I could see, my baby was suffering and as his mother, it was my duty to find a solution to this and I feel I have. I had been toying with the idea of home education for years. Every day after school, I would tutor my son on things he would never learn while attending school which I think was the basis for him to be able to have an awareness that something just wasn’t right at that place. I so badly wanted him to see the joy of learning and how beneficial it is to be educated but felt with the lack of funding and set curriculum that was not possible. After laying out my options with home education and studying the philosophies and methods of un-schooling, I pulled my son from the school.

The Teachers Know That Public Education Is Horribly Flawed

I sent an email to his teacher explaining a bit about why I was taking my son out of public education which prompted the teacher to call me. We had a very long, enlightening conversation regarding the school system. The teacher told me that he completely supported and agreed with my decision to educate my son at home. He knew that the system was out-dated at best and the kids are not benefiting from it in anyway. He stated that most kids in his class were having meltdowns at home and in school regarding it. He agreed with me that the system doesn’t teach the kids how to be critical thinkers and that can be very dangerous for a society as a whole. He told me that he will not be putting his kids in public education. That statement alone was enough to tell me I was doing the right thing. My son was in a split class and had two teachers. Between the two teachers, they shared 65 students. That is unbelievable! The teacher stated that he so badly wants to teach but it’s so conflicting because as a teacher, his hands are tied. He has to stick to a set curriculum and can’t really go outside of it. He said that there literally is no funding. Most teachers pay for a lot of school supplies out of their own pockets. This morning I read a Polk county public school teacher’s letter of resignation. To me it’s more proof that the teachers know that the system is horribly flawed!

How My Son’s Life Has Changed

 cartoon-thinking-outside-box_final

Since we started our journey of un-schooling, he now understands basic math concepts. His mood has also improved greatly. When I first caught wind to him being behind, I knew that it stemmed from his grade two year and he couldn’t get caught up because the teachers unfortunately don’t do one-on-one help. He got behind in the first place because he was being bullied and his teacher at the time was also doing questionable things like not letting him go to the bathroom. That was a bad year for him. I know that experience had a part in his perception of school and him falling behind. Regardless, nothing was done on the teacher’s part to rectify the problem and how could they if they don’t have the time or resources to give one-on-one help. The principal of my son’s school said that they don’t offer one-on-one help at that school and most public schools.

The change from my son while he was in public school to un-schooling is like night and day. Now, he has complete say in what he learns about and because I know his interests, I can incorporate them into all subjects that he’s doing for that week. For example: he is completely obsessed with Samurais. So he completed math worksheets that had samurais on them, we explored the science of making katana swords, the geography of Japan, the history of the Edo period (time of the Samurais), writing assignments based on monks and Buddhism, the culture of Japan throughout history and now, and lots more. I couldn’t believe how I could incorporate samurais into every single subject.

Eventually, he started having self-directed days where he is his own teacher. He has the reigns and can decide what pace to go at and how much he wants to complete in one day. Some people have asked me if he does anything on the days when were not working together. Through un-schooling he has learned the importance and magic of learning. It’s all centered around his interests, passions, and curiosities so of course he does. He has the awareness that learning can manifest in anything. Whether it’s practicing his archery, tending to the plants, cooking, travelling, engaging in his passions and spending time with the ones he loves; he knows anything he engages himself in can teach him. When he was in school, he never set goals. Since we’ve been working together he sets goals and achieves them all the time. We have no set curriculum; he is in control with me as a guide.

The greatest thing that I’ve learned through this experience is that we must be engaged in our children’s learning. Even if un-schooling doesn’t seem like an option. We can’t expect that all their education needs will be met at school. For example, the things he has learned through un-schooling that he could not learn while attending public education include: cooking, the Japanese language, Nikola Tesla, how to take notes, the power of one, philosophy, philosophers, astronomy, Gandhi (and other greats like him), quantum physics, Buddhism, Jesus, yoga, meditation, critical thinking, archery, how to grow food, laws of attraction, the power of gratitude, wilderness survival, various conscious documentaries like “I Am”, in depth political history and how society was built, natural healing and medicines, knowledge of self and so, so, so much more! As a parent and an enthusiastic student of the universe, I believe all these things and more should be taught through public education! We must fill in the gaps whatever way we can in our current situations. The system is broken and the children are suffering.

The Evidence That Something Needs To Change

Aside from my son’s personal experience with school, there are other reasons that pushed me to make the move into home education. The most important one is the origins of public education. I truly believe that if parents knew what public education was really created for, they would never enrol their children in it.

Horace Mann

I wrote an article regarding the origins which you can view here. I highly recommend that you read this article which highlights John D. Rockefeller’s investment of and his involvement in it (to the outcry of parents and education professionals alike) as well as Horace Mann’s (“The Father of Education”) role in it and his ties to Prussia.

A notable person I have come across who has actually taken the time to study the long term status of the un-schoolers is Peter Gray. He is a Boston College research professor who has studied how learning happens without any academic requirements at a democratic school. In 2011, he decided to conduct a study with his colleague Gina Riley regarding a question he had that was centered around the outcome of the 10% of un-schoolers from the estimated two million children who are home schooled. He was prompted to conduct the study after finding no academic studies that adequately answered his question.

“In 2011, he and colleague Gina Riley surveyed 232 parents who unschool their children, which they defined as not following any curriculum, instead letting the children take charge of their own education. The respondents were overwhelmingly positive about their unschooling experience, saying it improved their children’s general well-being as well as their learning, and also enhanced family harmony. Their challenges primarily stemmed from feeling a need to defend their practices to family and friends, and overcoming their own deeply ingrained ways of thinking about education. (The results are discussed at length here.)”

Prompted by his own curiosity about how un-schooled children felt about their education experience and how this may have impacted their ability to pursue higher education and obtain gainful and satisfying employment, he conducted a study in 2013 in which he surveyed 75 adults ranging in age from 18 to 49; almost all of them had 3 years of un-schooling experience. The results and Gray’s remarks on the findings of the survey are quite long. You can read the entirety of the article and results here. Below I will paraphrase some of the points that really stood out for me in regards to questions I have been asked regarding my son’s future (going to college or finding employment).

All but three of the 75 respondents felt the advantages of unschooling clearly outweighed the disadvantages. Almost all said they benefited from having had the time and freedom to discover and pursue their personal interests, giving them a head start on figuring out their career preferences and developing expertise in relevant areas. Seventy percent also said “the experience enabled them to develop as highly self-motivated, self-directed individuals,” Gray notes on his blog. Other commonly cited benefits included having a broader range of learning opportunities; a richer, age-mixed social life; and a relatively seamless transition to adult life. “In many ways I started as an adult, responsible for my own thinking and doing,” said one woman who responded to Gray’s survey.”

“Very few had any serious complaints against unschooling,” Gray says, and more than a third of the respondents said they could think of no disadvantages at all. For the remainder, the most significant disadvantages were: dealing with others’ judgments; some degree of social isolation; and the challenges they experienced adjusting to the social styles and values of their schooled peers.

What stood out, he adds, is that “many more said they felt their social experiences were better than they would have had in school.” Sixty-nine percent were “clearly happy with their social lives,” he says, and made friends through such avenues as local homeschooling groups, organized afterschool activities, church, volunteer or youth organizations, jobs, and neighbors. In particular, “they really treasured the fact that they had friends who were older or younger, including adults. They felt this was a more normal kind of socializing experience than just being with other people your age.”

Three people were very dissatisfied overall. In all three cases, the respondents said their mothers were in poor mental health and the fathers were uninvolved. Two of the three also happened to be the only ones who mentioned having been raised in a fundamentalist religious home, though the survey didn’t ask this question specifically. It appeared to Gray that the unschooling was not intentional—the parent had aimed to teach a religious curriculum, “but was incompetent and stopped teaching,” he notes. In all of these cases, the children’s contact with other people was also very restricted; moreover, they were not given any choice about their schooling and therefore felt deprived of school.

Overall, 83 percent of the respondents had gone on to pursue some form of higher education. Almost half of those had either completed a bachelor’s degree or higher, or were currently enrolled in such a program; they attended (or had graduated from) a wide range of colleges, from Ivy League universities to state universities and smaller liberal-arts colleges.

In the words of one woman: “I already had a wealth of experience with self-directed study. I knew how to motivate myself, manage my time, and complete assignments without the structure that most traditional students are accustomed to. … I know how to figure things out for myself and how to get help when I need it.” Added another: “I discovered that people wanted the teacher to tell them what to think. … It had never, ever occurred to me to ask someone else to tell me what to think when I read something.”

More Evidence

 Jeff Bliss – A  Voice From The Front Lines

Hackschooling Makes Me happy | Logan LaPlante | TEDxUniversityofNevada

High School Valedictorian Speaks Out Against Schooling

4th Grade Student Sounds Off On State Testing

What Is The Solution?

I’m all about creating sustainable solutions that we can start implementing today. I wanted to share my story about my son in hopes that it will help other parents who are watching their children suffer in the school system and to know that there are other options. I believe that our children are the future and as such, it is our duty to make sure they have not just a good education but an inspiring and enlightening one so they don’t make the same mistakes my generation and generations before me have made. There has been a large increase on discussions regarding public education and the effect it’s having on our children. I personally believe that the whole system needs to be changed. It’s outdated and has sinister roots. We have the power to change things and talking about the solutions is a good start.

Recently, I read an article titled, ‘Why every parent should consider un-schooling’. In it, it states that with programs519dde98cf479_image_ like No Child Left Behind (millions of children have actually been left behind) and Common Core (otherwise known as Common Conformity) in the United States, parents are finding the educational climate so unacceptable that they are willing to take a radically different path. Upon reading that, I was reminded of another article I read regarding director James Cameron (Titantic, Avatar) and his wife Suzy Cameron creating an innovative school called Muse. The concept behind MUSE came about after Suzy, a global environmental activist, mother of 5, and proud wife, grew tired of watching her older children struggle in the traditional education system, and sought an alternative and more environmentally aware option.

I definitely think creating new schools with the basis of the “un-schooling” philosophy is what we need but for many parents that can seem like light years away especially when our children are suffering now. I’ve written many articles on how any parent can adopt the philosophies of un-schooling or home education even if they have to work during the day. There is always a way. It really depends on how much work you are willing to put in. I will list the articles below as well as some other resources about un-schooling. I hope they are helpful for those who are considering like I was. Above all, I think if we work together, we can create a better, happier and more sustainable world for ourselves and generations to come and I believe the key to this is conscious education rooted from passion and expansion with no child ever being excluded or left behind.

Un-Schooling Resources:

For Those Who Are Considering Home Education <- Click to Read Article

Home Education For The Conscious Parent <- Click to Read Article

Dayna Martin

 dayna-martin-unschooling-home-640-e1361236441611Dayna Martin is an activist, educator and author of, Radical Unschooling: A Revolution Has Begun. She does Unschooling and Peaceful Parenting coaching. You can learn more about Dayna at her website: http://daynamartin.com/

petergrayPeter Gray, Ph. D, research professor at Boston College, is author of Free to Learn (Basic Books, 2013) and Psychology (Worth Publishers, a college textbook now in its 7th edition).  He has conducted and published research in comparative, evolutionary, developmental, and educational psychology. He did his undergraduate study at Columbia University and earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences at Rockefeller University. His current research and writing focus primarily on children’s natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. You can learn more about Peter and his work at this website: http://www.freetolearnbook.com/

Sources:

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/09/02/how-do-unschoolers-turn-out/

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/01/07/this-is-what-happens-when-a-kid-leaves-traditional-education/

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/03/08/high-school-valedictorian-speaks-out-against-schooling/

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2015/04/21/4th-grader-rocks-common-core-education-by-asking-school-board-one-question/

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Consciousness

Super Moon In Capricorn: Proceeding With Changed Perceptions

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We are having a Full Moon in Capricorn on June 24th/25th, which will appear the brightest on the night of the 24th throughout the world. This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began with a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Gemini on June 10th which is still affecting this period and beyond. It will also be a ‘Supermoon’, which is when the Moon appears larger and brighter due to its closer proximity to the Earth.

The energies of a Full Moon are strongest in the days surrounding it yet its astrological configurations also play a part over the following two weeks. You may start to see its themes slowly build up after the New Moon prior.

This is a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Capricorn and the Sun in Cancer. It can play out as either a conflict, an integration, or some sort of dynamic between the energies of both signs. The Moon reflects the expression of feeling and emotion while the Sun reflects the expression of ego and conscious self.

We may feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us; with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Capricorn side and others expressing the Cancer side. In some cases, Full Moons can also reflect/trigger some sort of change or release.

Sun In Cancer Opposite Moon In Capricorn

Cancer season began when the Sun entered this sign on June 20th/21st which will conclude on July 22nd. Cancer is associated with family, domestic life, security, emotional needs, emotional sensitivity, nurturing, and nostalgia. It is caring, personal, motherly, empathic, vulnerable, instinctual, intuitive and protective. Cancer can also be moody, clingy, insecure, as well as overly subjective.

This Full Moon is in its opposite sign of Capricorn, triggering a push-pull or integration effect between both of these signs. Capricorn is associated with ambition, achieving, duties, career, productivity, and discipline. It is responsible, cautious, prudent, practical, orderly, masterful, worldly, business oriented, realistic, and a social climber. Capricorn can also be cold, narrow minded, controlling, pessimistic, cynical, and overly concerned with status.

Although Cancer is the emotional sign here, the Moon rules emotions and the sign of Cancer. With it being in Capricorn, emotional drive will generally lean towards Capricorn needs and expressions. The Cancerian themes will generally be more expressed externally or through ego, even though they can be emotionally oriented. However, these are all generalizations, and each of our experiences and perceptions of this polarity actualizing will be different from each other.

Full Moon Sextile Jupiter & Trine Uranus

This Full Moon is in a sextile with Jupiter in Pisces which has begun its retrograde four days prior and is nearly stationary. Jupiter ruled areas of education, beliefs, experiential pursuits, and travel may be more prominent. Business wise, it could have to do with marketing and publishing. Considering it is in Pisces with Neptune also about to retrograde here, themes or manifestations pertaining to spirituality, compassion, creativity, escapism, or idealism may also come up.

This Full Moon is also in a trine with Uranus which brings the potential of originality, positive surprises, or perhaps experiences that can be liberating, stimulating, new, or unconventional. This can be good for changing things up, experimentation, or some sort of renovation. This energy will come up more so on July 5th/6th when the Sun is aspecting Uranus.

Mercury Is Now Moving Forward, Applying Square To Neptune 

Mercury in Gemini ended its retrograde on June 22nd/23rd and is now slowly starting to move forward (from our Earth perspective) as it gradually increases in speed. The areas of our lives that have been affected by this retrograde and pre-retrograde shadow since mid-May will go through a conclusion process over the next few weeks. This may start to become apparent over the coming days.

We will have a better perception on how to proceed forward in regards to certain circumstances and developments that come up over the last 5-6 weeks. Things can fall into place more easily and we may experience resolutions. We can feel that we are in a better place to move forward in the areas of life that have been impacted (reflected in our individual astrology charts) and pertaining to how Gemini themes played out for you.

As Mercury moves forward it is applying towards a third square with Neptune. Although we are in this post-retrograde period, in some ways it can still feel somewhat like retrograde until July 5th/6th when the square occurs and is most potent. This can play out as some confusion, lack of focus, scatteredness, unrealistic thinking, missing details, or complications involving communication, misinterpretation, or technology. Due to this. it would be best to wait until after it is done (from July 7th/8th onward) if you need to make important decisions.

Saturn Sextile Chiron,  Mars & Full Moon Also Aspecting Chiron 

At the time of this Full Moon and the weeks before and after, Saturn in Aquarius is in its second exact sextile with Chiron in Aries. This is part of the astrological backdrop all year as the first sextile was in February and the final one will be at the end of the year. Although this isn’t a very strong aspect, it can be supportive depending on how we apply ourselves.

This is good for taking a disciplined approach to healing, overcoming negative patterns, and addressing some of our core wounds. It can also be good for efforts that are integrating, bridging, holistic, unorthodox, or reflective of our natural gifts. Mars is in the mix this time around, peaking July 2nd, which emphasizes being proactive in this way. This Full Moon is in a square with Chiron as well, and perhaps some of the themes or potential conflicts we experience at this time may require some sort of bringing together of opposing or fragmented factors.

Mars In T-Square With Saturn & Uranus

Mars in Leo is moving towards an opposition to Saturn in Aquarius and then a square to Uranus in Taurus, creating a T-square pattern. This combined energy peaks from June 30th-July 4th and Mars will also be making its trine to Chiron (mentioned above) at this time.

On the days leading up to July 1st/2nd, and especially at that time, we may experience our actions being blocked, restricted, resisted, or limited in some way as Mars’ opposes Saturn. We can get frustrated more easily and we may need to do things with caution, better structure, or extra effort. Conflicts around boundaries may also come up.

Mars’ trine with Chiron in the first few days of July and square to Uranus in the following days can be good for taking an unorthodox approach or applying creative solutions. However, Uranus in the mix can also play out as rebellious and impulsive energy.

Mars here is also triggering the Saturn square Uranus aspect that is happening all year. As a result this can also play out as conflicts around, or assertiveness towards, ‘old versus new’, ‘restrictions versus freedom’, ‘the status quo versus revolution’, ‘commitments/responsibilities versus liberation’, ‘elder versus youth’, ‘progressiveness versus tradition’ and so forth.

Things To Consider

What have been the main themes for you over the last month and is there anything coming up now that could point to some sort of conclusion or an important next step forward? What area of your life is calling for more determination? Is there something that you need to achieve? Should you be experimenting with new or unusual approaches to things?

These are just some examples of themes that could come up or ways to approach this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out as well.  If you wish to do any sort of intentional release, it is best to do so after it begins to wane following the peak or during the two weeks afterwards when it is waning before the next New Moon. The exact peak of this Full Moon is at 6:40pm Universal Time on June 24th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

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Consciousness

New Study Finds Humans Can Access a Higher Level of Consciousness

Gautam Peddada

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new study sheds light on the existence of a higher level of consciousness in humans that is accessible.

  • Reflect On:

    Does consciousness originate in the brain or somewhere else? What does this say about who 'we' are as humans?

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New research has discovered verifiable evidence of a higher level of consciousness. Researchers used brain imaging equipment to analyze the small magnetic fields created in the brain and discovered that, across three psychedelic substances, one measure of conscious level — neural signal diversity — was consistently greater.

Neuroscientists discovered a prolonged increase in neural signal diversity — a measure of the complexity of brain activity — in persons under the influence of psychedelic substances as compared to when they were awake.

The variety of brain impulses gives a mathematical indicator of awareness degree. People who are awake, for example, have more diversified brain activity than those who are asleep, according to this measure.

However, this is the first study to show that brain-signal diversity is more than baseline, that is, greater than in someone who is merely ‘awake and aware.’ Previous research has focused on decreased states of awareness, such as sleep, anesthesia, or the so-called vegetative state. More research utilizing complex and diverse models is required, according to the researchers, who are cautiously hopeful.

Professor Anil Seth, Co-Director of the University of Sussex’s Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, stated:

“This discovery demonstrates that the brain on psychedelics functions quite differently than usual.”

“As evaluated by ‘global signal diversity,’ the electrical activity of the brain during the psychedelic experience is less predictable and less ‘integrated’ than during regular conscious wakefulness.”

“Since this measure has already shown its value as a measure of ‘conscious level’, we can say that the psychedelic state appears as a higher ‘level’ of consciousness than normal — but only with respect to this specific mathematical measure.”

For the study, Michael Schartner, Adam Barrett, and Professor Seth of the Sackler Centre reanalyzed data that had previously been collected by Imperial College London and the University of Cardiff in which healthy volunteers were given one of three drugs known to induce a psychedelic state: psilocybin, ketamine, and LSD.

Using brain imaging equipment, scientists examined the small magnetic fields created in the brain and discovered that, across all three medicines, this measure of conscious level — neural signal diversity — was consistently greater.

The researchers emphasize that this does not imply that the psychedelic state is a “better” or “more desirable” state of consciousness; rather, it demonstrates that the psychedelic brain state is distinct and can be related to other global changes in conscious level (e.g., sleep, anesthesia) by using a simple mathematical measure of signal diversity.

“That identical improvement in signal diversity was discovered for all three medications, despite their rather distinct pharmacology, are both quite remarkable and also encouraging that the results are robust and reproducible,” said Dr. Muthukumaraswamy, who was involved in all three original research.

The findings might help feed ongoing conversations concerning the strictly supervised medical usage of such medications, such as in the treatment of severe depression.

“Rigorous research into psychedelics is garnering greater interest, not least because of the therapeutic potential that these substances may have when taken wisely and under medical supervision,” said Dr. Robin Cahart-Harris of Imperial College London.

“The current study’s findings assist us to comprehend what happens in people’s brains when they experience psychedelic consciousness expansion. People frequently report having “insight” when using these substances, and when this occurs in a therapeutic setting, it can predict beneficial outcomes. The current discoveries may help us understand how this is possible.”

In addition to informing potential medical applications, the study contributes to developing scientific knowledge of how conscious level (how conscious one is) and conscious content (what one is conscious of) are connected.

According to Professor Seth:

“We discovered links between the intensity of subjects’ psychedelic experiences and variations in signal diversity. This shows that our metric is closely related not just to global brain alterations caused by medicines, but also to features of brain dynamics that underpin specific kinds of conscious experience.”

The study team is currently concentrating their efforts on determining how particular alterations in information flow in the brain underpin certain components of the psychedelic experience, such as hallucinations.

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Consciousness

Does Consciousness Create Our Material Reality?

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CE Staff Writer 7 minute read

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    A new study authored by Robert Lanza suggests observers" are responsible for determining physical reality, and that conscious observers themselves generate and create the structures of time and space.

  • Reflect On:

    We observers, people like you and I, are responsible for how consciousness forms into physical matter, what does this say about the power of our individual and collective beliefs?

Before you begin...

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Where does the “physical” world come from? Matter at its smallest observable form, atoms, pop in and out of existence all the time. The idea that physical matter is birthed from a non physical realm, such as the “quantum vacuum” or the “void”, or something else we are unaware of is not novel.  Nikola Tesla himself believed that “all perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha, or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving Prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never-ending cycles all things and phenomena.” (Man’s Greatest Achievement, 1907)

A paper published by Parahamsa Tewari in the journal Physics Essays explains,

“A century from now, it will be well known that: the vacuum of space which fills the universe is itself the real substratum of the universe; vacuum in a circulating state becomes matter; the electron is the fundamental particle of matter and is a vortex of vacuum with a vacuum-less void at the center and it is dynamically stable; the speed of light relative to vacuum is the maximum speed that nature has provided and is an inherent property of the vacuum; vacuum is a subtle fluid unknown in material media; vacuum is mass-less, continuous, non viscous, and incompressible and is responsible for all the properties of matter; and that vacuum has always existed and will exist forever….Then scientists, engineers and philosophers will bend their heads in shame knowing that modern science ignored the vacuum in our chase to discover reality for more than a century.”

This non-physical “field” may also be dark energy, we don’t really know or understand it quite well, but we know it exists. A declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document touches on this,

“We do not understand why it exists or how it is created; we simply know it provides an ever-present force on spacetime, causing the universe to expand. Indeed, recent high-precision experimental observations indicate dark energy may be a cosmological vacuum energy.”

So, if our material world is birthed from this non material “stuff”, does consciousness play a factor? It’s interesting to contemplate, especially given the fact that consciousness is not a physical thing, nor is it the result of any known physical process or biology. You cannot pinpoint or find the source of consciousness within the brain. Even at the quantum level, factors associated with consciousness have been known to change the behavior of matter, like photons, suggesting that matter itself may be a conscious perceiving thing.

Does this mean that all “physical” things possess some type of consciousness? Photons don’t have a brain, do they? What about plants? There is a growing amount of evidence suggesting that plants act and behave in ways suggesting that they are a thinking things, capable of feelings, emotions, perceptions and thoughts.

If consciousness can have such an influence over matter, and is a non physical property that exists within all physical things, could it somehow be responsible for the creation of reality? This has been a common theme discussed within the realms of quantum physics for quite some time. In fact, the discussion of “ether”, this non physical, indescribable “stuff” has been the subject of contemplation for thousands of years. Plato wrote about the ether  in his work Phaedo, and explained how life exists within it. He believed what air is to us, the ether is to them. Is the ether alive? Is the universe itself, which could be primarily made up of this non-physical stuff, a conscious living entity?

You cannot explain consciousness in terms of the existing fundamentals like space, time, mass,  and charge. As a result, the logical thing to do is postulate whether consciousness itself is something fundamental to the existence of reality, to view consciousness itself as one of these fundamentals.

“Why do you insist the universe is not a conscious intelligence, when it gives birth to conscious intelligences?” Cicero, c. 44 BCE 

A New Paper

Another paper has emerged claiming that “observers” are responsible for determining physical reality, and that conscious observers themselves generate and create the structures of time and space.

What’s interesting to contemplate here is that, if this is true, it would include all “observers” within the universe itself, not just human observers. It reminds me of the double slit experiment, where tiny bits of matter are shot through a slit forming what’s called a wave pattern of probabilities and possibilities, but when an observer is introduced the wave function collapses.

One of the authors of the paper, Robert Lanza, told Big Think that observers can dramatically affect the “behavior of observable quantities” both at a microscopic and massive spatiotemporal scales. In fact, a “profound shift in our ordinary everyday worldview” is necessary. The world is not something that is formed outside of us, simply existing on its own. “Observers ultimately define the structure of physical reality itself.”

How does this work? Lanza contends that a network of observers is necessary and is “inherent to the structure of reality.” As he explains, observers — you, me, and anyone else — live in a quantum gravitational universe and come up with “a globally agreed-upon cognitive model” of reality by exchanging information about the properties of spacetime. “For, once you measure something,” Lanza writes, “the wave of probability to measure the same value of the already probed physical quantity becomes ‘localized’ or simply ‘collapses.'” That’s how reality comes to be consistently real to us all. Once you keep measuring a quantity over and over, knowing the result of the first measurement, you will see the outcome to be the same

The implications of this are and have always been quite large. The idea that consciousness itself is fundamental to reality suggests that it must have played an integral part in the creation of reality, that consciousness itself had to exist prior to the birth of physical material reality. One could go on and on contemplating things like: if consciousness is fundamental to the creation of physical matter, then what created consciousness itself? Where does consciousness itself originate from? Does existence itself even have a beginning? Can the future change the past, can the past change the future?

Who knows, but the most important point to takeaway here is that consciousness itself is fundamental to the creation of our physical experience. If we want to change the world, ultimately we have to change the way we think, feel and perceive. This is a key factor that is directly intertwined with the type human experience we create for ourselves.

This is why, perhaps, sometimes it seems that the greatest resource for powerful people, politicians and corporations is human consciousness itself.  If we ourselves determine what direction humanity heads simply by what we think and feel, just imagine what somebody could do if they could manipulate that aspect within us? The state of the world today, some might say, is chaotic, and that could be a direct result of the fact that the collective mind and heart is not in a state of coherence.

You might say “we are all over the place.” We’re separated by our beliefs and unable to come together in understanding and harmony. This collective state of being in turn will create a physical experience that reflects that, which is exactly what we are seeing today and have seen throughout human history.

Below is a great little documentary from a colleague of mine, it’s based off an essay he wrote for his philosophy master’s degree. It dives a bit deeper into this discussion.

Dive Deeper

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