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Consciousness

Scientists Show How Gratitude Literally Alters The Human Heart & Molecular Structure Of The Brain

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Scientists have discovered that feelings of gratitude can actually change your brain. Feeling gratitude can also be a great tool for overcoming depression and anxiety. Furthermore, scientists have discovered that the heart sends signals to the brain.

  • Reflect On:

    Every time we struggle with depression, why are we constantly encouraged to take prescription medication when mindfulness techniques actually show more promise?

Gratitude is a funny thing. In some parts of the world, somebody who gets a clean drink of water, some food, or a worn out pair of shoes can be extremely grateful. Meanwhile, somebody else who has all the necessities they need to live can be found complaining about something. What we have today is what we once wanted before, but there is a lingering belief out there that obtaining material possessions is the key to happiness. Sure, this may be true, but that happiness is temporary. The truth is that happiness is an inside job.

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It’s a matter of perspective, and in a world where we are constantly made to feel like we are lacking and always ‘wanting’ more, it can be difficult to achieve or experience actual happiness. Many of us are always looking toward external factors to experience joy and happiness, when really it’s all related to internal work. This is something science is just starting to grasp as well, as shown by research coming out of UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. According to them:

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Having an attitude of gratitude changes the molecular structure of the brain, keeps gray matter functioning, and makes us healthier and happier. When you feel happiness, the central nervous system is affected. You are more peaceful, less reactive and less resistant. Now that’s a really cool way of taking care of your well-being.

There are many studies showing that people who count their blessings tend to be far happier and experience less depression.  For one study,  researchers recruited people with mental health difficulties, including people suffering from anxiety and depression. The study involved nearly 300 adults who were randomly divided into three groups. This study came from the University of California, Berkeley.

All groups received counselling services, but the first group was also instructed to write one letter of gratitude to another person every week for three weeks, whereas the second group was asked to write about their deepest thoughts and feelings about negative experiences. The third group did not do any writing activity.

What did they find? Compared to the participants who wrote about negative experiences or only received counselling, those who wrote gratitude letters reported significantly better mental health for up to 12 weeks after the writing exercise ended.

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This suggests that gratitude writing can be beneficial not just for healthy, well-adjusted individuals, but also for those who struggle with mental health concerns. In fact, it seems, practicing gratitude on top of receiving psychological counseling carries greater benefits than counseling alone, even when that gratitude practice is brief. (source)

Previously, a study on gratitude conducted by Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. at the University of California, Davis and his colleague Mike McCullough at the University of Miami randomly assigned participants to be given one of three tasks. Each week, participants kept a short journal. One group described five things they were grateful for that had occurred in the past week, another group recorded daily troubles from the previous week that displeased them, and the neutral group was asked to list five events or circumstances that affected them, but they were not told whether to focus on the positive or the negative. Ten weeks later, participants in the gratitude group felt better about their lives as a whole and were a full 25 percent happier than the troubled group. They reported fewer health complaints and exercised an average of 1.5 hours more. (source)

Researchers from Berkeley identified how gratitude might actually work on our minds and bodies. They provided four insights from their research suggesting what causes the psychological benefits of gratitude.

  • Gratitude unshackles us from toxic emotions
  • Gratitude helps even if you don’t share it
  • Gratitude’s benefits take time & practice. You might not feel it right away.
  • Gratitude has lasting effects on the brain

The brain part is very interesting. The researchers at Berkeley used an fMRI scanner to measure brain activity while people from each group did a “pay it forward” task.  During the task, the participants were given money by a “nice person.” This person’s only request was that they pass on the money to someone if they felt grateful.

They did this because they wanted to distinguish between actions motivated by gratitude and actions driven by other motivations like obligation, guilt, or what other people think. This is important because you can’t fake gratitude, you actually have to feel it. If you don’t feel grateful or practice trying to feel grateful by taking the necessary steps like keeping a gratitude journal, you may not experience as much joy and happiness.

In a world where emotions aren’t really taught in school and the importance is put on striving for high grades, it’s not abnormal to have difficulty feeling grateful. This is especially understandable if you’ve been brought up in the western world, which is full of consumerism and competition, a world where we’re constantly made to feel we are lacking so we need to strive for more.

Participants were asked to rate how grateful they felt toward the person giving them the money and how much they wanted to pay it forward to a charitable cause as well as how guilty they thought they would feel if they didn’t help.  They were also given questionnaires to measure how grateful they felt in general.

We found that across the participants, when people felt more grateful, their brain activity was distinct from brain activity related to guilt and the desire to help a cause. More specifically, we found that when people who are generally more grateful gave more money to a cause, they showed greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain area associated with learning and decision making. This suggests that people who are more grateful are also more attentive to how they express gratitude.

Most interestingly, when we compared those who wrote the gratitude letters with those who didn’t, the gratitude letter writers showed greater activation in the medial prefrontal cortex when they experienced gratitude in the fMRI scanner. This is striking as this effect was found three months after the letter writing began. This indicates that simply expressing gratitude may have lasting effects on the brain. While not conclusive, this finding suggests that practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.

It’s also interesting to note that a recent study just discovered a brain network that “gives rise to feelings of gratitude. The study could spur future investigations into how these ‘building blocks’ transform social information into complex emotions.” (source)

What About The Heart?

The work and research above is great, but where do we actually experience these feelings? They are clearly not a product of our brain, they are products of our consciousness, and when we feel them the brain responds.  Researchers are now discovering that the heart also responds and that it might actually be the heart that’s responsible for sending these signals to the brain.

A group of prestigious and internationally recognized leaders in physics, biophysics, astrophysics, education, mathematics, engineering, cardiology, biofeedback, and psychology (among other disciplines) have been doing some brilliant work over at the Institute of HeartMath.

Their work, among many others, has proven that when a person is feeling really positive emotions like gratitude, love, or appreciation, the heart beats out a different message, which determines what kind of signals are sent to the brain.

Not only that, but because the heart beats out the largest electromagnetic field produced in the body, the Institute has been able to gather a significant amount of data.

According to Rolin McCratey, Ph.D, and Director of Research at Heartmath,

“Emotional information is actually coded and modulated into these fields. 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.” (source)

Another great point made below by the Institute:

“One important way the heart can speak to and influence the brain is when the heart is coherent – experiencing stable, sine-wavelike pattern in its rhythms. When the heart is coherent, the body, including the brain, begins to experience all sorts of benefits, among them are greater mental clarity and ability, including better decision making.” (source)

In fact, the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends in return. What’s even more amusing is the fact that these heart signals (from heart to brain) actually have a significant effect on brain function.

Research findings have shown that as we practice heart coherence and radiate love and compassion, our heart generates a coherent electromagnetic wave into the local field environment that facilitates social coherence, whether in the home, workplace, classroom or sitting around a table. As more individuals radiate heart coherence, it builds an energetic field that makes it easier for others to connect with their heart. So, theoretically it is possible that enough people building individual and social coherence could actually contribute to an unfolding global coherence. –  McCratey

So far, the researchers have discovered that the heart communicates with the brain and body in four ways: neurological communication (nervous system), biophysical communication (pulse wave), biochemical communication (hormones), and energetic communication (electromagnetic fields).

“HeartMath research has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity (which accompany different emotional states) have distinct effects on cognitive and emotional function. During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive function. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions. In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect. It facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability.” (source)

Gratitude and Positive Feelings Can Change The World

It gets deeper:

Every individual’s energy affects the collective field environment. The means each person’s emotions and intentions generate an energy that affects the field. A first step in diffusing societal stress in the global field is for each of us to take personal responsibility for our own energies. We can do this by increasing our personal coherence and raising our vibratory rate, which helps us become more conscious of the thoughts, feelings, and attitudes that we are feeding the field each day. We have a choice in every moment to take to heart the significance of intentionally managing our energies. This is the free will or local freedom that can create global cohesion. – Dr. Deborah Rozman, the President of Quantum Intech (source)

Overall, this type of work suggests that human consciousness in general can change the world.

One study, for example, was done during the Israel-Lebanon war in the 1980s. Two Harvard University professors organized groups of experienced meditators in Jerusalem, Yugoslavia and the United Sates and asked them to focus their attention on the area of conflict at various intervals over a 27-month period. Over the course of the study, the levels of violence in Lebanon decreased between 40 and 80 percent each time a meditating group was in place. The average number of people killed during the war each day dropped from 12 to three, and war-related injuries fell by 70 percent. (source)

Another great example is a study that was conducted in 1993 in Washington, D.C., which showed a 25 percent drop in crime rates when 2,500 meditators meditated during a specific period of time with that intention.

This type of information is heavily correlated with quantum physics, as many experiments in that area as well as parapsychology (telepathy, remote viewing, distant healing) indicate similar findings. (source)

This holds true as far back as 1999. Statistics professor Jessica Utts at UC Irvine published a paper showing that parapsychological experiments have produced much stronger results than those showing a daily dose of aspirin helps prevent heart attacks. Utts also showed that these results are much stronger than the research behind various drugs like antiplatelets.

This type of work has statistically significant implications, yet is heavily ignored and labelled as pseudoscience simply because it conflicts with long-held beliefs we have trouble letting go of … But times are changing.

“For many years I have worked with researchers doing very careful work [in parapsychology], including a year that I spent full-time working on a classified project for the United States government, to see if we could use these abilities for intelligence gathering during the Cold War… At the end of that project I wrote a report for Congress, stating what I still think is true. The data in support of precognition and possibly other related phenomena are quite strong statistically, and would be widely accepted if it pertained to something more mundane. Yet, most scientists reject the possible reality of these abilities without ever looking at data! And on the other extreme, there are true believers who base their beliefs solely on anecdotes and personal experience. I have asked debunkers if there is any amount of data that would convince them, and they generally have responded by saying, “probably not.” I ask them what original research they have read, and they mostly admit that they haven’t read any. Now there is a definition of pseudo-science-basing conclusions on belief rather than data!” – Utts, Chair of the Statistics Department, UC Irvine (Dean Radin, Real Magic)

The Takeaway

Emotions and other factors associated with consciousness have the power to transform our inner world in ways we don’t fully understand yet. These findings show how consciousness can actually transform the physical/material world, and that’s huge. This validates the idea that if we can change our inner world through gratitude, empathy, compassion, and meditation, we can make our outer world more peaceful.

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Consciousness

Extraordinary Cases of Children Remembering Their Past Lives & Proving It

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

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

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

According to Tucker:

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

Anonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I even know where he buried my body.”

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

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

Sam Taylor

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

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

Pretty remarkable, isn’t it?

Ryan – A Boy From The Midwest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chanai Choomalaiwong

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

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

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

The Case of P.M

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

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

Kendra Carter 

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

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

James Leininger

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

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

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

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

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

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

An Explanation?

My Take On Reincarnation

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

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

Sources:

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

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

http://uvamagazine.org/articles/the_science_of_reincarnation

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Consciousness

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

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

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

  • Reflect On:

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

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

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

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

My Letter to the Trustees

Dear Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board Trustees,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you,

Richard Enos

The Response

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

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

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

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

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

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

My Exemption Request

MASK ACCOMMODATION/EXEMPTION REQUEST FORM

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

REASON

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

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

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

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

The Response

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

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

Hello

Kellen’s mask exemption has been approved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where I am at Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Consciousness

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

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

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

  • Reflect On:

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

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

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

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

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

– John D. Rockefeller

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

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

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

Edward Snowden

Emotions in School

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

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

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

How Do We Go About Doing This?

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s called RULER.

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

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

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

What Exactly Are the Kids Taught? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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