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I Was Living The “American Dream” Then Had A Stroke At Age 30 & It Turned My Life Around

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Apparently surviving a stroke that took half my eyesight and almost killed me would turn out to be one of the greatest blessings of my life. Before I get into how all that transpired, I need to give a little background on how it got to that point.

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Growing up, my parents took the same approach to life that most people growing up in the United States could relate to. Their plan for my three younger siblings and me was simple: Go to school and get good grades so you can go to a good college. Then get a good job and make a lot of money so you can have nice things and then you’ll be happy. This was the mantra that I, like many other kids in the U.S., grew up with; the American Dream. I followed the guidelines and my years of hard work finally paid off when I landed a job working for a Fortune 500 company in Rockefeller Center, Manhattan.

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Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a professional businessman. I wanted to wear nice suits, work in an office with breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline, dine in fancy restaurants, and date women outside of my Long Island gene pool. Each of these I had achieved more and more year after year as I slowly clawed my way up the corporate ladder. One job change, a couple moves from Long Island to Queens then the Upper West side of Manhattan, a few raises and promotions after almost a decade in the corporate finance realm, and I finally got to the point where I felt like I had “made it.”

However, when I got to that point I still wasn’t completely satisfied. In fact, I only wanted more. Then I saw an opportunity to move further up in the ranks when my director informed me that she would be leaving the company. This was the opportunity I was waiting for! I asked for and received more responsibility along with a sizeable increase to my salary. This eventually transpired into a “be careful what you wish for” situation. In the coming months I felt the responsibilities and workload piling up with no relief in sight. So began the silent war within myself that would lead to the event that shattered all that I had built for myself my entire life.

I worked longer and harder than I ever had in order to prove myself. In doing so, my life became completely imbalanced with the scale always weighted toward work. Over the next six months my stress and anxiety levels were higher than ever trying to keep up with my new workload, as the company had not yet found a suitable replacement to fill the empty role in the finance department. My mind began to turn against me and I felt as if I were stuck in the trenches of my work-related stress even when I left the office. Luckily at this point I was about to go on vacation with my girlfriend at the time to visit her parents, who had retired to a small village in Mexico. It was my first time visiting the country and I was delighted by the relaxed and care-free attitude of the locals and blown away by the beautiful beaches and nature that I immersed myself in. This was the vacation I needed! But all good things must come to an end, so on New Year’s Day 2014, we were dropped off at the airport to head back to New York City, or so we thought.

At the airline service counter, I was handed my boarding pass to return home. In that exact moment, I felt a sharp pain on my left temple like I had never experienced before in my life. I shut my eyes, grabbed my head, and let out a grunt. When I opened them, half my vision was gone and everything was blurry. Something was very wrong. I let my girlfriend know what was happening and that I was pretty sure I was having a stroke. I told her to get an ambulance immediately. I lay down where I was, drank some water, and began vomiting as my body convulsed on the floor of the airport. As the paramedics arrived, I began to feel a tingling sensation run throughout the right side of my body and I was starting to lose control of basic motor functions and consciousness. It was in this moment that for the first time in my life I thought to myself, “I might die.” I’ve been afraid before, but nothing could compare to the feeling I had on the floor of the airport on New Year’s Day 2014. The paramedics hooked me up to an IV and took me to the nearest hospital, which was luckily just down the road from the airport.

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I was fortunate to survive with only having partial vision loss and no nerve damage. It was only when returning to New York would I realize the cause of my brain injury. The doctors at Cornell discovered a hole (PFO) inside my heart, which caused the blood clot in my brain. Not too longer after diagnosis, I was on the operating table in Columbia Hospital to remedy the situation. I never thought I’d be having heart surgery in my early thirties. My, how life is full of surprises!

Readjusting to city life after a stroke and heart surgery was by no means easy. At first, it was really bad. I had trouble physically getting around the crowded streets of New York City with only half my eyesight. My personality had changed drastically, as I had become more solemn. My relationships with my girlfriend, family, friends, and co-workers had all shifted to some awkward place that I was unfamiliar with, each in their own way. Invoking intimacy was not what it used to be, as my sex drive was stuck in first gear. I was nowhere near as fun and positive as I used to be when hanging out with friends and family. I had difficulty focusing so my performance at work suffered a great deal as well. My weekly therapy sessions proved to help temporarily, but my mind would constantly return to dark places. After a year of living this new life as a man I was no longer familiar with and didn’t even want to be around, the thoughts of leaving the planet began to cross my mind for the first time ever. That really scared me, so I did something I promised myself I would never do: go on medication.

I went on antidepressants and was also given Xanax that I was instructed to take only when my anxiety levels become unbearable. After just a few days, I levelled out. My depression was gone and my anxiety was non-existent. There was just one little problem: I didn’t really feel anything. Everything was just “fine.” If something good happened, my emotional response was “That’s fine.” Something bad happened? Also fine. At first I was so glad to have rid myself of crippling depression and anxiety that I was satisfied with living as a flesh-covered robot. That lasted only a couple of months. After a while I saw that I was rapidly dismantling into a highly functioning soulless drone. Was this better than living as the strung-out anxiety-ridden person I was before? Were there no other options for me to choose for continuing on with my life?

Related CE Article: Study Finds That Big Pharma Completely Lied About Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors For Depression

After picking up my prescription pills for the third month in a row, I hit the gym and when I got home later that evening, I realized they had slipped out of a hole in the bottom of my gym bag. I took this as a sign and decided to try going off of my meds cold-turkey. I fought through the withdrawals following the first few days then started to feel really human again. At this point in time, it was a little over a year after I survived the stroke and it became abundantly clear that I had a choice between pushing on with the usual day to day or maintaining my sanity. I chose my sanity. It was early 2015 when I officially decided I would quit my job to travel and figure things out somewhere else in the world. I immediately began downsizing my life. Most of my possessions were sold, donated, given away, or put in storage. With each item that left my possession, I felt physically and emotionally lighter, as if I were dropping off weights I had been carrying on my shoulders for years. That’s when I began the journey that would change my life forever.

In the summer of 2015 I bought an RV and my girlfriend, dog, and I decided to leave the corporate world behind and start anew in Mexico. After three months, a ten thousand mile road trip, and just over a month living together in the foreign country, it became apparent to us that our relationship of over three years was not going to work any longer. After it sunk in that everything we were planning for the future fell apart, I was completely lost. At least when I was in New York I had the comfort and stability of my job, family, friends, home country, and a language I was fluent in. Now I fell into yet another dark place, but not for long! I was determined to make the best of my situation, so I grabbed a backpack and began solo travelling for the first time in my life!

In the first month, I was just winging it and hopping on buses to the next stop on the backpacker trail of mid-western Mexico. This was a great experience where I met tons of friendly locals, expats, and travellers from all over the world. For the next phase of my travels, I decided to do a bit more planning. I was still hurting from my break-up and needed some physical, mental, and spiritual healing. So the next phase of my trip included an Ayahuasca ceremony in the Pueblo Mágico of Tepoztlán. My experience with Ayahuasca was very introspective and I kept receiving the same message over and over again: “You are on the right path.”

Next was a ten-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat in Coatepec, Veracruz, another Pueblo Mágico. This was one of the most difficult yet profoundly enlightening experiences I’ve ever gone through. Ten days of being silent and meditating for eleven hours a day really helped silence my mind and take control of my thoughts and actions.

The last stop in my second walkabout was a month-long work exchange stay at a holistic healing retreat center called The Sanctuary in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. Here it took just a few days at for me to realize that the Ayahuasca was right. I was on the right path! I learned new meditation techniques, was doing yoga every day, got a crash course on preparing meals for a high-raw vegan lifestyle, and shared the community house with extraordinary people from all walks of life. We worked, chanted, communed in nighttime ceremonies, shared our most intimate thoughts and feelings, and even cried together. This was exactly what I needed! Not too long after arriving, I ended up joining the team as general manager and The Sanctuary became my home for the next six months. During that time, I helped guide dozens of people through that chapter of their life’s journey, an experience I’ll never forget! It was here where I learned that truly spiritual people are those who have been through hell and have the overwhelming desire to help others out of their own versions of it.

After The Sanctuary, I was presented with the ultimate traveller moneymaking opportunity: trimming marijuana in Northern California, so I took it. I spent the next two months hunched over a table as a pot hairdresser. Once again, it was the people I was surrounded by that made the experience a memorable one. Nothing helps the time fly like sharing stories, listening to our favourite music, and laughing together around the fireplace at night when our fingers needed to rest.

With California in my rearview, I made a stop in New York to visit friends and family before heading to Puerto Rico. This was the home of a girl I fell in love with during my time in Mexico. The connection we forged during our short time together was different than any other in my entire life. It was based on a love and respect for who the other person was at their core as opposed to who we wanted them to be. Though the relationship would not continue after my visit, she without a doubt raised the bar in my ongoing search for a partner in life.

Once again I was leaving a piece of my heart behind and continued on with my travel journey! I flew into Cancún and worked my way slowly back to the beach city that helped heal my heart better than any other: Puerto Escondido. This trip was more about the journey than the destination for sure. In the Yucatan peninsula I witnessed and scaled massive ancient Mayan pyramids. While in Tulum I participated in a beautiful and emotional peyote ceremony where I took an even deeper look into the inner workings of my mind. In Palenque, I became one with nature after consuming the local magical mushrooms and bathing in the jungle’s mystical waterfalls near the ruins. As usual, sharing these experiences with travel mates amplified my experience. At this point I was a certified travel junky and never wanted it to end! Good thing I was going to nest in a beach paradise and backpacking hotspot.

Back in Puerto Escondido, I stayed in a Vivo Escondido Hostel for a month until I found a
long-term rental. You guessed it… more awesome people!

I ended up at a gorgeous newly-constructed two-story house where I would spend the next six months pursuing passions that I had been neglecting for years. I learned to surf, explored the local natural beauty, focused on healthy living, caught up on my travel blog, wrote a few articles, DJed at multiple venues, and made sure to enjoy every day as best I could. Mexico gave me the opportunity to let me live my life the way I wanted to for a while without any judgment, and for that I am forever grateful.

Just a few months ago, I took a two and a half week visa-run/vacation to Guatemala to visit my friend Luke Maguire Armstrong in San Marcos. He and I met while I was managing the Sanctuary in Puerto Escondido the year before and ever since becoming friends, I grew ever more curious of his work with a school for impoverished children in Antigua, Guatemala. I spent my first two weeks immersing myself in the raw beauty of the active volcano communities surrounding Lake Atitlán where he lived. Here I would partake in yoga, cacao ceremonies, ecstatic dance at the Yoga Forestand even Bhakti singing at The Fungi Academy. All activities of course were shared with new and exciting traveller friends of various nationalities. For the finale of my stay, I even booked myself a DJ gig at Bar Sublime, a quick ten-minute boat ride across the lake to San Pedro.

After bidding farewell to my new friends I met on the lake, Luke and I headed to Antigua to visit the Integral Heart Foundation’s school. Though I had been helping remotely with fundraising efforts for months before visiting, actually meeting the children I was helping made it much more personal for me. It was incredibly heartwarming to actually see the children in person, knowing the adverse environment they had come from not too long ago. None of them were going to school and many were forced to rummage through garbage dumps for pennies a day due to difficult circumstances. No wonder these were the happiest school kids I had ever met in my life!

A couple days later, I said goodbye to Luke and the kids to return to Puerto Escondido. However, when I got back a shift happened within me and I slipped into another depression. I began to question what I really wanted and needed in my life. I missed my friends and family back home and my funds were starting to run low. After a month of self-reflection, I decided it was time to return to New York.

So now I have come full circle… kind of. Over the course of a little more than two years I have had more adventures and experienced more of what this incredible world has to offer than most people do their entire lives. It’s comical for me to look back at all that happened, remember living in my own personal hell for so long, and to see how far I’ve come since those times of intense despair. It was like a mental quicksand; the more I struggled, the deeper I would sink into it. Of all the lessons I’ve learned, my greatest one is probably this: My mind can be my worst enemy or greatest ally. In the end, I am the one who gets to choose which one it will be. I had to journey into the unknown and experience life firsthand to personally integrate this lesson myself. My experiences and the hundreds of connections I made along the way were what really saved my life. Without them, I don’t even want to begin to think about where I would be right now. I still have no vision on my right peripheral, but I can once again see a beautiful future for myself, something I had lost immediately following the stroke.

In over two years of travelling I have had many revelations, but none more important than
this: At the very core of my being, I am a traveller. It is one of the few things in life that makes me feel truly alive. By travelling, I saw for myself that so much of what I thought I knew about foreign cultures was wrong until I experienced them firsthand.

Meeting people from all corners of the Earth gave me a new perspective on life. I realized
that although we may have been born thousands of miles away, were raised in completely
different cultures, and in many instances didn’t speak the same native tongue, none of us were that different from each other. In fact, many of us were on our own personal quests searching for a deeper meaning in life.

Living and working in New York City for a decade had put me in contact with people from
all over the world. This, however, was completely different from my experiences travelling, as most Manhattanites had found their way and were usually more focused on their careers than soul-searching. In my personal experiences with the people I’ve encountered, those who travel are seekers, searching for something that was missing in their lives back home. For me, I was missing a greater purpose, something that my fundraising efforts with the Integral Heart Family in Guatemala fulfills.

The best part of my story called life thus far is that it is nowhere close to being complete. I still have many more chapters to write, thousands of new characters to meet, and countless adventures to experience. In over two years of travel, the greatest gifts I have received were the connections I have made with my soul tribe from all corners of the Earth. I left New York to heal myself and find a higher purpose and I feel that I have accomplished these goals. In my experience living over thirty-four years on this planet, I have found no greater healer than creating deep and meaningful connections with other souls. This lesson I promised myself to follow through with and spread to as many other people as possible. What better place to continue this journey than New York!

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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.

Become Part of CE's Inner Circle

Collective Evolution is one of the world's fastest-growing conscious media and education companies providing news and tools to raise collective consciousness. Get inside access to Collective Evolution by becoming a member of CETV.

Stream content 24/7 and enjoy mind-expanding interviews, original shows, documentaries and guided programs.

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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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Consciousness

A Spiritual Perspective On Smoking Cannabis: An Important Viewpoint To Consider

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    In the video below, Sadhguru shares his perspective on smoking marijuana and why it's not truly needed to achieve the feeling one may receive to do it.

  • Reflect On:

    I'm not saying there isn't medicinal value and that we should outlaw this plant, I'm saying we have a very large societal challenge, just like with alcohol, where we are not facing our inner challenges and are using substances to cover them up.

I was having a conversation yesterday about something that has always been a reflection point for me. Since I was a kid, I was never drawn to substances, even alcohol. I always felt great, high even, when just being.

As I got older and I finally tried cannabis for the first time, and then a few more times after that as years went on, I started to realize it actually brought my state of being and clarity down. The tough part was trying to explain that to others when having conversations about how these substances don’t produce a true experience of higher consciousness, but more so give you a glimpse in a sense.

Before we go on, I want to bring something up. The challenge with this topic is that we tend to get very emotional and rigid about it. Not only that, but we aggressively try to lump people into FOR or AGAINST cannabis. I’m not here to do that. I’m simply creating a reflection point as my desire is to help shift consciousness and empower us within to create a world where we can truly thrive. So for a moment, set aside your own hard coded beliefs and just be open to what this article is shining light on.

Societal Cannabis Culture

For the most part society either breaks down into people who judge cannabis as a drug that is for ‘stoners’ and are very against it. These people tend to believe there are no positives to cannabis. On the flip side are the people who feel cannabis is an amazing wonder plant that can do no wrong, and that the “highs” it provides expand the mind and we experience peace.

The truth is, cannabis has good aspects and not so good aspects to it. And while the positives can be really helpful for a very small subset of people on this planet, smoking it is one of the worst ways to use cannabis health wise. Not only that, society is using its medical benefits to turn attention away from the addiction many users have to it. This is a tough pill to swallow and makes many people aggressive and angry when I bring it up, but it’s true. In a big way, but not all the time, we are using cannabis as a society to help cope with feelings deep down that we want to shut off or hide from. As a note, we are also using food, TV and other things in the same way, but right now I want to focus on this reflection.

Cannabis can assist people with autism, people who have seizures, and in some cases it may have helped people cure cancer. There are benefits that can come from this plant being used in a proper medicinal way, but we must remember to look at the downsides that come from regular cannabis use that many simply don’t want to acknowledge.

A Note On Legalization

First off, I do not believe the plant ever needed to be illegal to begin with. In fact I’ve done much research on how it became illegal and it really had more to do with protecting an industry more than anything else.

That said, there is something to consider here that many of us aren’t looking at too clearly when it comes to what legalization really means. It means that powerful people are going to be the ones who profit most from it, that’s why it’s becoming legal. Not only that, but the reason it is taking so long is so they can get in place the many aspects required to make sure they achieve what they want: stripping medicinal aspects out of the plant profiles, controlling the seeds, and ultimately feeding society cannabis focused solely on creating a THC based ‘high’. This is no different than controlling alcohol and feeding it to society in the ways we currently do.

The cannabis industry is worth over $40 billion, making it the second-most-valuable crop in the U.S. after corn. As stated in a powerful article by GQ, “And even though weed is still federally forbidden, it sounded like whoever was behind BioTech Institute had spent the past several years surreptitiously maneuvering to grab every marijuana farmer, vendor, and scientist in the country by the balls, so that once the drug became legal, all they’d have to do to collect payment is squeeze.”

Humans should be able to make choices as to what they want to do to themselves and their bodies i.e. smoke cannabis or consume alcohol, but I believe greater education needs to be placed behind both and ultimately: we must start looking at the real reasons as to why we use both of these substances so often.

Looking At Cannabis Differently

I see that in many ways the use of cannabis is making the average user numb, in the same way alcohol does. I’ve used cannabis before, in a number of ways -smoking, edibles etc. I’m not saying the feeling is the same for every single user, but I’ve also been around thousands of cannabis users in my lifetime while they were high and you notice the same ‘vibe’ virtually every time. Perhaps there are varying degrees, but for the most part it numbs us out and sometimes quiets the thoughts to create a calmness. Is this like meditation? No, but it can be confused as that. I know, I’ve been there too.

Below is a video of a perspective on cannabis I feel is very important for us to consider. Let me be clear, I’m not saying there isn’t medicinal value and that we should outlaw this plant, I’m saying we have a very large societal challenge, just like with alcohol, where we are not facing our inner challenges and are using substances to cover them up. I am inspired to help create a world where we can truly empower ourselves form within, move beyond our mind and egoic challenges that help us grow and do just that – grow. But if we continually bury our challenges in substance, we won’t.

I believe it’s time we come to the uncomfortable truth and face the fact that as a society we have not done the greatest job in encouraging one another to truly explore, express and move beyond many of the emotional challenges life’s experiences have provided us, that are there for our growth. Think about it, do we want to just cope through life? Or do we want to truly move beyond our stuff? There is SO much suffering we can prevent by making it a societal norm to work through our challenges on a deep level. This is where I believe we must go.

Note: You can try meditation to help calm the mind and move more clearly through challenges. Here are more tools as well.

Lost relationships, divorces, losing jobs, feeling unloved, lack of confidence, depression etc. All of these things are not here so that we can use bandaids everyday to cover them up and get through them, they are here for us to learn more about ourselves, grow and evolve as people and as a society. To create a world where we can truly thrive. To get there, we must begin to face our challenges.

I made this choice 10 years ago when I started to discover meditation and inner reflection, and although I wasn’t a user of substances like alcohol or cannabis, I would use food to cover up my emotions or I would distract myself with TV, whatever worked. But I can share from experience, the incredible changes that come from shifting those stories within and gaining true empowerment will change everything in your life, and everyone can do it.

Become Part of CE's Inner Circle

Collective Evolution is one of the world's fastest-growing conscious media and education companies providing news and tools to raise collective consciousness. Get inside access to Collective Evolution by becoming a member of CETV.

Stream content 24/7 and enjoy mind-expanding interviews, original shows, documentaries and guided programs.

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