Photo by Lisa Reagan

Celebrating The Shift To Conscious Choice: Highlights From The 2010 Freedom For Family Wellness Summit

Editor’s Note: This article appeared in the winter 2010 issue of Pathways to Family Wellness. At the time, Kindred World (formerly Families for Conscious Living) partnered with the International Chiropractic Association to create the Pathways Connect parent education and support groups (400 internationally) and to co-sponsor this summit. Lisa Reagan was the associate editor of Pathways from 2007-2013 and the director of the Pathways Connect educational program. Learn more about Kindred’s long history of service to family wellness here.

The Freedom for Family Wellness Summit: Celebrating the Shift to Conscious Choice delivered an energetically charged journey, guided by more than 40 speakers and leaders, through the global shift in consciousness—from an industrial worldview driven by Newtonian science and materialism to a wholistic worldview enlightened by Einstein’s energy-based science and the concept of vitalism. Hosted by the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA), the groundbreaking gathering near Washington, D.C., brought together scientists, researchers, practitioners, parents, journalists, activists and more than 600 participants. The summit’s four days of events included seamless, mind-expanding presentations, interactive audience play times, and a VIP dinner and dance. Altogether, it generated an unforgettable celebration of our individual and collective shifts to conscious choice.

The summit began on Thursday, October 21, with a presentation by Peggy O’Mara, publisher and editor of Mothering magazine for three decades. She encouraged practitioners and parents to “find their tribe,” and to consciously create communities that would support the unfolding of their full potential. O’Mara pointed out that this need for community was great among parents, and Mothering’s online discussion board was helping to fulfill this need.

Guy Riekeman, D.C., visionary and president of Life University, kicked off the summit from the vitalistic perspective of chiropractic’s major premise: There is an intelligent force within all matter, continually giving to it all its properties and actions, thus maintaining it in existence. This basic principle of vitalism is that this inherent intelligence within the body animates, motivates, heals, coordinates and inspires living beings. Riekeman encouraged practitioners to embrace their roles as qualified spokespersons and leaders in the family wellness movement of healthcare.

The first full day of events began with presentations on the vitalistic perspectives of conception, pregnancy and birth, and moved through the essence of family wellness. Then Friday’s headline presenter, Bruce Lipton, Ph.D., took the stage and, during a three-hour recap of civilization as we know it, annihilated any shred of doubt that the old, materialist science based on Newtonian beliefs has lost its unquestioned authority. Lipton’s selfempowering and rollicking tour of the shift from old to new-edge science toppled the philosophical underpinnings of conventional medicine and urged chiropractors and wholistic practitioners, grounded in the truths of vitalism, to “navigate civilization through the upcoming turbulent times.” Now that we know what is really happening, Lipton said, we no longer have to move to fear. “When you see the institutions and flawed structures of industrial, material science collapsing, you can say ‘YES!’” he cheered. Lipton’s new book, Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future and a Way to Get There From Here, expands on the shift in detail, and the myriad reasons for celebrating conscious choice.

The experience-born revelations of how empowered families make conscious choices about conception, pregnancy and birth were presented by numerous natural birth advocates and educators. Suzanne Arms, author of the New York Times bestseller, Immaculate Deception: A New Look at Women and Childbirth in America, opened the Friday-morning session sharing thirty-plus years of experience and knowledge. Ina May Gaskin, considered the grandmother of midwifery, and author of the classic Spiritual Midwifery, warned that, in an age where nearly a third of all Western women are cesarean bound, “Midwifery stands on the cusp. In the immediate future, it will either flourish or be wiped out.” Gaskin encouraged all practitioners and parents to go to the Internet and watch videos to find out what a healthy, natural birth looks like. “Even if it is an elephant giving birth,” she said. “Practitioners today are traumatized by witnessing medicalized births. We, as practitioners, are supposed to know how to lay our hands on a woman. Insurance companies have stopped this.”

Jeanne Ohm, D.C., producer of the film Birth Trauma: A Modern Epidemic and a family wellness chiropractor specializing in perinatal care for nearly three decades, connected the chiropractic philosophy, science and art to its practical application for natural birthing. Patrick Houser, founder of Fathers-to-Be, brought the role of the father during pregnancy and birth to the forefront, comparing it to the ancient archetype of the “protector of the cave.”

Elena Tonetti-Vladimirova, a Russian documentary filmmaker who has worked with the water-birth pioneer Igor Charkovsky since 1982, showed the spellbound audience footage of birth camps at the Black Sea, where mothers delivered babies among wild dolphins. Tonetti-Vladimirova’s insights were the foundation of Birth Into Being, a program of birth-trauma release for adults and babies. She also shared her research into the Biblical passage Genesis 3:16, which pronounces that “a woman shall suffer in labor,” finding evidence of a common mistranslation. The word “labor,” she said, was intended to be “‘labor,’ as in a labor of love and of investing and paying attention” during birth. “The word ‘suffer’ doesn’t exist in the original Biblical text. So, why do we need an imprint of suffering at our birth?” Tonetti-Vladimirova asked. “Camels, horses and elephants are trained to be servants by early programming. Introducing suffering and pain to our birth field is the perfect crowd control, as it produces slaves and soldiers.”

Marcy Axness, Ph.D., explored the provocative, vitalism-friendly ideas of “thought as an organizing principle” on the tiny biological system of the fertilized ovum; of conception as the vitalistic “big bang” that echoes lifelong; and the opportunity we have as members of the human family to participate in our own “spontaneous evolution” through offering the incoming physical being thoughts and intention—such as gratitude, wonder and presence—that may invite more coherent, harmonized organization and growth.

Emboldened by Einstein’s admonition that “if at first the idea is not absurd, there’s no hope for it,” Axness proposed an alternative to the Cartesian notion that size equals significance, and suggested, according to chaos theory’s principle of “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” that a small shift in how we look at conception would have big results. “Wouldn’t it make sense that the influence of a very positive, or very negative, environmental message would be relatively much more powerful upon a very small system, at the very beginning, when each cell division will replicate that cell’s knowledge again and again?” she asked. “What would happen if we conceived our babies with the same mindful intentionality we bring to so many other projects that we do deeply believe in? Might we spontaneously unfold a whole new unimagined realm of evolutionary potential for our global human family?”

On Friday afternoon, practicing physicians Joseph Mercola, D.O., Jonathan Breeding, Ph.D., Larry Palevsky, M.D., and Lauren Feder, M.D., presented their experiences assisting families in making informed choices and creating a wellness lifestyle. Mercola, a leading educator of natural health, offered essentials for longevity. Breeding introduced the concept of freeing ADD/ADHD children from the confining rails of the current system, introducing his perspective that the wildest colts make the best horses. Palevsky, of the Holistic Pediatric Association, connected the dots between the hallmark of the industrial paradigm, whose values include conformism and compliance, to the confusion parents feel when caught between paradigms: One rewards their compliance with social acceptance, and the other rewards them with true health. Both Palevsky and Feder shared their practice protocols of working within a wholistic team and employing a variety of wholistic modalities, including homeopathy, chiropractic and energy work.

Barbara Loe Fisher, president of the National Vaccine Information Center, addressed the “number one public health controversy” in America today—the right of parents to make informed choices for childhood vaccinations. “Does the state have the right to force vaccines on individuals against their will?” she asked. Fisher pointed out how vaccine policy impacts the lives of families and healthcare professionals when it conflicts with conscience and the right to exercise voluntary, informed consent. The NVIC’s new Advocacy Portal helps practitioners and parents become active in preserving and expanding their right to choose in their states by alerting them to pending legislation and policy changes. (You can sign up for the Advocacy Portal at

To help summit participants understand the personal challenge of shifting from one paradigm to another, Michael Mendizza, author of Magical Parent, Magical Child, took the stage in big-nosed and bushyeyebrowed Groucho Marx glasses, and asked us to consider an unusual possibility: “You are not who you think you are,” he said. Mendizza pointed out that the most basic human instinct is “bonding, belonging, fitting in, acceptance and approval. This is true for children and adults. Survival depends on it. As children, we discover what is acceptable or not by looking in the mirror of relationship. We create an ‘image-of-self’ based on what we see. What we see is not our true, authentic nature. What we see is the other’s approval or disapproval, and that became our image. The key insight is that our true, authentic nature needs no image to express.” Mendizza encouraged the practitioners in the audience to reconsider the need to be accepted by a mainstream medical paradigm whose foundation is now known to be obsolete, and instead, to embrace their full potential through a shift in awareness.

For two days, the summit exposed the limitations of old science and its institutions (like the mainstream medical models of care of babies, children and families), and urged us to leave behind us a “cultural image” that might trap us into wanting approval from those still operating unconsciously inside the old worldview. On the third day, the summit asked the next obvious question: How do we explore this new realm of science? What are the tools for tapping into its possibilities…and what will it look like when we do?

Neil Z. Miller, author and educator, opened this session by addressing pseudo-science, and the ability to discern which studies could be trusted and which are designed to manipulate public opinion— especially studies conducted by the vaccine industry. Christopher Kent, J.D., D.C., founder of the Foundation for Vertebral Subluxation, outlined current research protocols that support wholistic care and the practitioners who are participating in the research. He commended the direction of Practice-Based Research Networks, the avenue which the ICPA has used to publish significant research for family wellness.

Cassandra Vieten, Ph.D., has been the research director at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, IONS, since 2001. IONS was created by former astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Ph.D., for the sole purpose of answering questions about the emerging wholistic paradigm. In addition to being a research scientist, Vieten is also an author of family wellness books, including Mindful Motherhood: Practical Tools for Staying Sane During Pregnancy and Your Child’s First Year, making a unique contribution to the family’s exploration of the shift to conscious choice. Vieten presented the current and forthcoming protocols that serve as a model for the future of vitalistic research, but warned the audience that human brains did not like change and would resist it, no matter the evidence or reasoning offered. She listed the known impetuses for a person to change his or her mind: direct experience (difficult to come by in a culture that demands conformity); pain; the influence of a relative or friend; repeated experience; and a safe environment where people can go to repeat the experiences. The above presenters on new science research were joined in a panel discussion by ICPA research director Joel Alcantara, D.C., and Matthew McCoy, D.C., editor of the Journal of Maternal and Pediatric Health: Chiropractic. Led by ICPA president Stephen Marini, D.C., Ph.D., this panel opened possibilities and directions for much-needed research in vitalism.

Following the panel discussion, the new ICPA Diplomate graduates and research contributors and ICPA staff were recognized and honored. The ICPA Diplomates participate in the profession’s most comprehensive and successful pediatric diplomate program. Graduation signifies the practitioner’s desire to offer the best possible care for pregnant women and children; graduates are awarded the initials DACCP.

And then, something magical happened. A play professional turned more than 600 people into springing tigers, dueling cowboys, and back to people talking in gibberish to strangers. Howard Moody, a veteran leader of adult “play groups,” led a variety of creative play exercises to shift the energies of the audience into a highly focused and alert place just in time for the venerable consciousness pioneer and author of Magical Child and The Crack in the Cosmic Egg, to share with us his life experiences of witnessing the possibilities of the full human potential. The audience members, who moments before had been running from one part of the massive hall to another and growling to their play partners, settled into their seats, and for the next hour, there was a breathless stillness as Joseph Chilton Pearce told his personal story of awakening.

Pearce, who was born in 1926 in Kentucky, has spent his lifetime exploring his own mystical experiences in meditation and through scholarly research. Pearce shared memories of his childhood, including a confession to his sister that he was “homesick, even as I sat in my parents’ living room listening to the long vibration of notes from the piano.” He told the harrowing story of being picked up by high winds and blown about the desert when he was a young man, and then deciding that “God was playing with me.” After this experience, Pearce entered an ashram, where he meditated for 10 years on the bond between the head and the heart. In the end, he said, he learned there is only one heart: “It is the same one beating in me as in you, but there are billions of egos in the head.”

Pearce’s lifelong quests have led him to exotic and shrouded spiritual centers around the world. He described watching monks, after weeks of deep preparation, walk through fire pits that would melt aluminum or incinerate a nonbeliever. He spoke about friends who gave up eating food (indefinitely) after a specific ritual cleansing of their bodies. As he described this unlimited potential, waiting just on the other side of a shift in awareness, he quoted a friend who had spent decades in the company of a rainforest tribe: “We have no idea what we have lost.” Our connection to the divine, to our natural potential and our true destiny, is blocked only by the illusion presented by the limited, materialistic worldview, based on a now-disproven 500-year-old model of science.

Pearce’s integrated, scholarly work led to the revelation that active, imaginative play is the most important of all childhood activities, because it cultivates a mastery of one’s environment and, as an adult, the ability to create one’s own reality. He also believes that child-parent bonding is important, and blames both a lack of breastfeeding and modern childbirth as obstructive to that bonding. You can read more about Pearce’s belief in our “Amazing Capacities and Self-Imposed Limitations” in his interview with Michael Mendizza on page 20.

So, how do we get there from here? And what are the practical tools needed to make the shift and apply its insights to our daily lives?

Joe Dispenza, D.C., author of Evolve Your Brain and featured in the far-reaching movie What the Bleep Do We Know!?, offered us Ten Quantum Laws to Liberate Young Minds and Hearts. His ability to bring practical application to quantum science riveted the audience for two hours.

To help us take the message home, day four of the summit offered twenty workshops with a variety of tools for cultivating mindfulness, community and wellness, featuring practitioners and authors who brought hands-on experience and lived wisdom to propel the celebration of our shift to conscious choice into our personal and family living.

One of the many tools for bringing the celebration home is the new Pathways Connect program, a community education and outreach program made possible through the collaborative resources of Pathways to Family Wellness and the 12-year-old nonprofit, Families for Conscious Living. The simple, turnkey tools of Pathways Connect, with its Gathering Guide, monthly group teleconferences and online discussion boards, are designed to jump-start a self-directed Gathering Group. Pathways Connect’s Discussion Questions and Resource Guide is intended to help shift our thinking out of fear and dependency toward confidence and sustainability of the wholistic paradigm. Practitioners who wish to start a Pathways Connect Gathering Group can sign up at

As many presenters over this epic summit illustrated, the shift to conscious choice is ongoing, with or without our participation or awareness of its impact in our lives. As individuals and society moves from the unsustainable worldviews of materialistic science and industrialism toward a sustainable worldview of interconnected wholism and full human potential, there are sure to be challenges. But for those who are aware, there will be more reasons to celebrate.

If you didn’t get to join us for this celebration, there are audio recordings available through the ICPA website. Outstanding presenters are already confirming for the next Summit, to be held in two years. We look forward to meeting you there…and always on our pathways to family wellness!

This article appeared in  Pathways to Family Wellness magazine, Issue #28.

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