Please Remove Mindfulness Programs (inc. MindUP) from Canadian Public Schools
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Who can sign: This petition is open for anyone to sign, from anywhere in the world.
Addressed to: This petition is directed towards applicable Education Ministers, teachers, administrators, school trustees, and other officials and politicians in Canada. This is a National petition that affects all applicable public schools in Canada.
Summary of the problem: Numerous Canadian public school teachers and officials are requiring students to participate in daily mandatory Mindfulness Meditation sessions. Mindfulness Meditation is incredibly popular in Canada and various other places in the world, but Canada is a Free Country, and we have laws in place that prohibit things like legislated meditation. If legislated Mindfulness Meditation is permitted by teachers as an exception to the rule, then what is to stop them from forcing students to engage in mandatory Transcendental Meditation? Or mandatory hypnosis? Or require all students to eat bacon 3x per day, regardless of their Vegetarian or Vegan status.
Bottom line: Mindfulness Meditation is Buddhist Meditation, with an unassuming name. It is also worth noting that most Mindfulness Meditation sessions (in public schools) involve directions from a Mindfulness Guide, and when it does, those Mindfulness Meditation sessions also qualify as Guided Meditation sessions.
Perspective: Mindfulness Meditation is popular in our society today, and I understand the draw to these initiatives. But, I respectfully hold to the truth that no one has the legal right to be legislating Canadian students into mandatory Mindfulness Meditation sessions. I also think it is an injustice that participating students are generally engaging in meditation without their knowledge, informed consent, awareness of the risks, etc.
How you can help: Please sign this petition and help me persuade applicable teachers and officials to obey the law and stop requiring students to participate in Mindfulness-oriented initiatives. By signing this petition, you would be standing up for public students, human rights, Canadian law, ethical accountability, and for Canada to remain a Free Country. Click the "Sign" button at the right-hand side of this page, and add your name to this important petition. Please also share this petition with your social networks.
If you would like more info, there is more info below.
The following programs are affected by this petition: Mindfulness, MindUP, Mindful Schools, Learning to Breathe, Inner Kids, Still Quiet Place, FRIENDS, etc.
Frequency: Some public school teachers have implemented Mindfulness Meditation in their classrooms, and children meditate once per day. In other places, entire schools are involved. At the K-7 elementary school, where my son attends (in Vancouver, BC, Canada), all students inside the school are enrolled into Mindfulness Meditation sessions 3x per school day (at approx. 9:05–9:08 a.m., 1:05–1:08 p.m., 2:57–3:00 p.m.).
Actual sessions: At Elsie Roy Elementary (in Vancouver, BC, Canada), Mindfulness Meditation sessions take place daily at the same designated times (3x per school day). At the beginning of each session, a specific volunteer student (an unofficial Mindfulness Guide) speaks into the PA microphone (broadcast through every PA speaker in the school) and alerts listeners when it is time to begin Mindfulness. From there, the Mindfulness Guide chimes a meditation chime (which makes a subtle bell sound) into the PA microphone, and following a script, they make various verbal requests throughout the meditation session, including the request for everyone to close their eyes, directions regarding what to think about, directions regarding what not to think about, and directions regarding concentrated breathing. After that, the Guide chimes a meditation chime, which marks the official close of each Mindfulness Meditation session. Note: Some public schools use a Tingsha, instead of a meditation chime. Other schools, such as Dr. Norman Bethune High School in Toronto, use a Tibetan Singing Bowl.
Five reasons why Canadian public schools should not be automatically enrolling, or even soliciting students, to meditate:
1. At the K-7 public elementary school where my son attends, every student (as young as 5-years old) was automatically enrolled into daily Mindfulness Meditation, when it was first introduced (Sept 2015). This widespread enrollment is the norm for every other known participating school in Canada. And, that's a problem because automatic enrollment into meditation sessions qualifies as legislated meditation, and legislated meditation is not lawful in Canada. I say this because Section Two of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms says everyone in Canada has the fundamental right to the "freedom of conscience and religion." And, that freedom cannot exist so long as teachers and officials are automatically enrolling students into daily meditation sessions.
2. All the provinces and territories in Canada have laws that designate public schools as "Secular" schools. For example, Section 76 of the BC School Act says “All schools and Provincial schools must be conducted on strictly secular and non-sectarian principles. The highest morality must be inculcated, but no religious dogma or creed is to be taught in a school or Provincial school.” This means Canadian public school teachers can briefly teach students about what Buddhist Meditation is, but they violate the rights of the students if they automatically enroll them, or even solicit them, into practicing it. Applicable teachers and representatives are currently (often unknowingly) sidestepping the law by saying Mindfulness Meditation sessions are completely secular, non-spiritual breathing sessions. And applicable public school officials usually refer to Mindfulness Meditation sessions as “breathing sessions,” “breathing exercises” and “mindful breathing.” To put it plainly: Applicable Canadian public school students generally do not realize they are meditating within the context of Mindfulness Meditation sessions, and that is unethical.
3. Many Canadians practice a Faith, Religion, value system, or belief system that requires them to refrain from practicing things like Mindfulness Meditation (Buddhist Meditation). I am one of these people, and my son is as well. If either of us were to participate in Mindfulness Meditation, it would cause us to violate our conscience in just the same way a devout Vegan would feel violated from eating bacon. In that regard, it is unfair for public officials to automatically enroll entire groups, or schools, to participate in Mindfulness Meditation. Note: For a more detailed explanation of my faith and why I abstain from Mindfulness Meditation, view the “Bio” page of my website: mindfulnesspetition.com.
4. Short-term safety: The Media has reported some people have experienced negative side effects, including serious psychological trauma, from practicing meditation. Four examples are here, here, here, and here. In addition, here is first-hand testimony regarding moderate negative side effects from meditation. And, this 2009 University Case Study outlines risks associated with practicing meditation. This means Mindfulness Mediation is not 100% safe as it is currently being advertised in applicable public schools. Parents and students have not been informed of any risks associated with meditation (I know this to be true because most participating schools have not even disclosed to parents that Mindfulness Meditation sessions involve meditation), and that is a major problem that should not continue. Parents and students have a right to know these risks, and it is unethical for public schools to withhold this information from parents and students. Additional links related to this topic here, here, here, here and here.
5. Long-term safety: While ample case studies exist, there are no known long-term case studies related to young children participating in Mindfulness Meditation.
These five points (above) outline the legal and ethical issues that result from legislated meditation in secular public schools. They also summarize the moral and religious violation these programs pose to a minority of people (from different backgrounds). These points highlight the need for proper disclosure and the need for informed consent. Note: The above list is abbreviated. For a longer and more detailed version of the above list, check out the "reasons" page at mindfulnesspetition.com
What about the Science: Many people believe the science (i.e. case studies) behind Mindfulness Meditation is the proof-positive reason why all public school students should be forced to practice Mindfulness Meditation. In response, I would like to kindly point out the fact that case studies do not include things like law, ethics, or morality, which means Mindfulness Meditation should never be legislated just on case study data alone. Also worth noting is the fact that most (perhaps, all) of the Mindfulness case studies that have come out of Canada's UBC were funded by Mindfulness-oriented organizations. And closer investigation shows some of the "Mindfulness Science" circulating in the Media has been way overhyped.
Opting out: Mindfulness Meditation was introduced at my child’s public school with the expectation of 100% participation. No waivers were sent home, nor were any measures put in place for anyone who may wish to abstain for religious or personal reasons. And, that's not only unfair and unkind, it's unlawful.
New curriculums: BC, Alberta, and the Yukon are all implementing new curriculums that endorse Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programs. And, many people do not realize Mindfulness-oriented programs (such as MindUP, FRIENDS, etc.) are SEL programs. This means tens of thousands of additional Canadian students are set to be automatically enrolled into Mindfulness Meditation within the next year.
Proof that Mindfulness Meditation is Buddhist Meditation: On the 'Buddhism' page of my website (mindfulnesspetition.com), I list 31 articles of evidence that collectively prove Mindfulness sessions are Buddhist Meditation and Guided Meditation sessions. Because of space constraints, here are just a few abbreviated items from that list: 1) Jon Kabat-Zinn is the man accredited with popularizing Mindfulness Meditation. According to Wikipedia, Mr. Kabat-Zinn was first introduced to meditation by a Zen Buddhist Missionary. He later became a meditation instructor, and he reportedly is a founding member of the Cambridge Zen Centre. Another quick online search shows Mr. Kabat-Zinn authored a three-part CD series called Guided Mindfulness Meditation, and he authored a book called, Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life. 2) In Buddhism, "Mindfulness" is #1 on the list of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment. 3) In a 2015 TED Talk (link at my website), a Deputy High Priest in Zen Buddhism says, “Mindfulness has been a part of Buddhist traditions for many Centuries. It’s a practice and a way of thinking that help us be present, with an experience, in a non-judgmental way.” he also says, "The main practice of mindfulness is meditation." 4) A few clicks and you will see that Vipassana, Zazen (Zen), and Samatha Buddhist Meditation are all present within Mindfulness Meditation.
Additional reading: Click here to see a timeline concerning the implementation of Mindfulness Meditation in Canadian public schools.
Dual marketing strategy: This petition highlights the fact that Mindfulness has adopted a dual marketing strategy, within our public sphere. It correctly markets itself as Buddhist Meditation within Community Centers (like the Roundhouse Community Centre, which is located right across the street from my child's school), and, it incorrectly markets itself as Secular Breathing in Canadian public schools, etc. This type of dual marketing strategy does wonders for enrollment and swaying public opinion in favor of Mindfulness Meditation, but it is just as unethical as marketing beef hotdogs as both ‘meat’ and ‘vegetarian.’
Call to action: Your signature would be a big help in persuading applicable teachers and officials to obey the law and stop enrolling students into mandatory meditation sessions. Please click the "Sign" button at the right-hand side of this page, and add your name to this important petition. Please also share this petition with your social networks. Thank you.
tags: mind up canada, mind up vancouver, mindful schools, mindfulness in schools, mindfulness canada, mindfulness program canada, mindfulness vancouver, mind up petition, MindUP teachers, dangers of meditation legislation, mindfulness, problems with mindfulness legislation, social and emotional learning canada, human rights, canadian charter of rights and freedoms
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