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You probably have noticed, even if you just flip through an issue of Pathways, that we’re not an average parenting magazine. Unlike a mainstream ad-driven magazine, Pathways states in its mission that we, as a nonprofit, are here to support your exploration of wellness and individual, informed choices. In building our local wellness communities through our growing Pathways Connect groups, together we explore questions like:
What is wellness?
How can we discuss the many issues of conscious living and informed choice confidently and respectfully, and move beyond initial reactions of feeling overwhelmed or fearful?
Can we learn to “see the forest for the trees”? Meaning, can we develop our capacity to see the Big Picture, the interconnectivity of life that naturally supports our wellness choices, and respect one another for our individual paths? (No How Crunchy Are You? Internet quizzes.)
Are there simple practices to develop our capacities for connecting inner wisdom to outer wellness?
In the first part of this column, I shared the early years of my “natural” mothering aspirations and my realization that, while my intentions were good, I was operating out of a culturally conditioned blind spot that left me despondent and exhausted. As I wrote in part one: “My unexamined, unconscious programming of performance, evaluation, and production was a value system straight from my formal education and work world—which was now the dominant, unsustainable industrial paradigm I sought to undermine with my ‘natural’ parenting efforts. Yikes! Echoes of Einstein’s famous quote rang like tolling bells through this new thought, ‘We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.’ Oh. Right.”
As I shared in part one, a personal shift in awareness provided a foundation that allowed my “natural mothering” efforts to become “conscious parenting” insights. This ongoing and practical shift in awareness allowed me to make peace with my blind spot, or as I jokingly refer to it, my personal CNN: my Calcified Neural Network. Today, neuroscience shows us that 95 percent of our actions originate in our unconscious belief systems, which reside in our brains as physical ruts or calcified neural nets. These personal CNNs limit our ability to take in new information, and therefore limit our perception of reality.
Collectively, these blind spots converge into cultural beliefs that are unquestioningly passed down through generations and even blasted through airport terminals and restaurants via our collective source of sanctioned information—conveniently also called CNN! Consider Ina May Gaskin’s interview on page 12. As Ina May states, women in the 1950s and 1960s submitted themselves to brutal medical birth practices because “they didn’t know any better.” The obstetricians, who had built a medical culture around birth as being abnormal and in need of intervention, were in truth impaired in their judgments by an academically reinforced blind spot. What happened when a few women, as Ina May says, shifted their worldviews and began to question the traumatic effects of the separating ritual of
medical birth, and instead allowed birth to be the connecting and empowering event it could be? What would happen today if American culture woke up to the possibilities of “normal” birth? What other cultural blind spots do we share and reinforce with social acceptance or threats of social ridicule? Where does the path to wellness, for individuals or society, ever begin, if not with a shift in individual perceptions?
Simply put, the Big Picture, the interconnected one that supports our life-affirming pursuit of wellness, is always available to us. Acknowledging and illuminating our personal blind spots/CNNs not only frees our inner wisdom to align with this greater context, but inspires those around us, including our children, to take up this challenge of conscious living as well.
During the decade I spent as an activist for natural/holistic parenting, two of the coolest moms I have ever met were compiling their own research data into paradigm shifting, or, as they call it, Worldview Literacy. Clinical research scientist Marilyn Schlitz, Ph.D., president of the Institute for Noetic Sciences (IONS), and the institute’s director of research, Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., released the results of their decade-long study of the most “powerful force of change” known in their book, Living Deeply: The Art and Science of Transformation in Everyday Life in 2007.