What if, instead of coming at us from our circumstances or from how others are behaving toward us, stress and anxiety are actually created from within, 100 percent of the time, from our own thinking in the present moment? What if resilience, inner peace and calm are freestanding, inherent qualities that are always available to us underneath all that thinking?

These are a few of the questions explored at the first iChoose 2.0 workshop, held under the broad umbrella theme “Victory Over Victimhood.” The three-hour event—led by iChoose Curriculum Director Joel Drazner—welcomed 26 teachers, administrators and office staff of St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey, California.

The purpose of iChoose 2.0 is to build upon the foundation of the original iChoose anti-bullying program and develop a greater vision of eliminating victimhood consciousness. When people understand where their experience of life actually comes from—that they cannot be made to feel badly by the words and actions of others; rather, their internal feelings are only ever generated by their thinking—they become liberated from the impact of external conditions; and, as they come to see that everyone at times operates from the same misunderstanding, they can even feel compassion for the people who are currently acting like bullies. Among the unlimited benefits of the understanding is that it enhances our capacity to engage in dialogue. If we can see that we aren’t experiencing emotional upset from the behavior of others, we are much freer to speak to them from the heart. The mere act of listening and speaking to others from a calm place of non-judgment can frequently transform otherwise challenging situations.

This new 2.0 vision for iChoose will include reaching out to teachers as well as to students, because when teachers and students come more into accord in the classroom, school becomes a happier, more-productive and peaceful daily activity.


In addition to the questions above, over the course of the St. Bernard High workshop, participants took a deep dive into further inquiry, exploring such questions as:

What if by coming to understand that the source of all experience comes to us via thought, teachers could naturally and quickly become less susceptible to burnout?

What if teachers could realize their own innate well-being that is impervious to the day-to-day challenges of caring for and educating children, even those who have been impacted by trauma? And what if by being firmly grounded in their own well-being, these teachers could then catalyze the resilience in their students and colleagues?

What if the school environment became a community of teachers whose clear, stress-reduced minds allowed them to be much more present, and to more easily find solutions to what currently seem intractable problems? And what if these teachers, operating in greater comradeship, could transform the emotional climate of a school and create an environment so welcoming and enriching that it becomes the place where faculty, staff and students most prefer to be out of all the places in their lives? A place that not only brings out the best in students and colleagues, but whose impact is then further felt when the students and colleagues return home to their loved ones.

And what if instead of coping strategies and intermittently successful attempts at positive thinking, merely coming to understand a few simple points about the workings of the mind could liberate chronic sufferers from virtually all inner

Through listening exercises and several vigorous question-and-answer sessions, the workshop participants grappled with the concept of seeing that outside circumstances and the behavior of other people have no direct effect on any of our internal feelings. Rather, but for our thinking in the moment, we would have a completely different experience of the exact same circumstances.

After follow-up interviews with selected participants, all of them received an email with the following points to remember:

After follow-up interviews with selected participants, all of them received an email with the following points to remember:

  1. YOU ARE ALREADY AND ALWAYS PERFECTLY OK — Everyone, without exception, regardless of current behavior or circumstances, possesses absolutely perfect psychological and emotional well-being. It is a quality that can never be destroyed, damaged, diminished or taken from us. It is who we are behind all the many roles we play in life and our ever-shifting self-image. We’ve all experienced a sense of this deep contentment at times, perhaps in prayer or meditation, in a pastoral nature setting, in quiet time with a loved one, while reading an absorbing book, etc. But here’s a deeper truth—that condition exists permanently inside of us, even when there is no seeming external catalyst for it. The more, through gentle reflection, we allow the awareness of this profound equanimity and sense of contentment that is always there—even if we just touch this place inside us for a moment—we will find it a soothing and calming influence on all the situations in our lives that SEEM TO BE causing us stress, anxiety and worry.
  2. OUR EMOTIONS AND FEELINGS ARE ALWAYS, EVER AND ONLY CREATED FROM WITHIN VIA THE SUPREMELY CREATIVE GIFT SPIRITUAL POWER OF THOUGHT — The French philosopher Teilhard du Chardin tells us: “We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience.” As beings formed from spiritual energy, we create an ongoing experience of the world through the powerful, creative spiritual principle of Thought, which is brought to life through our senses and our capacity for awareness. All of our feelings and emotions are created 100 percent from Thought, which means experience is generated from within rather than coming at us from external sources. By seeing the truth of this, we are freed from victimhood consciousness. Our stress and anxiety naturally dissipate without the necessity of a self-help procedure, and we can much more easily access the eternal deep wisdom within, which continually provides us with answers to situations that previously seemed irresolvable.
  3. EACH OF US HAS BEEN ENDOWED SINCE BIRTH WITH THE GIFT OF UNLIMITED NEW THOUGHT — We are never stuck in any circumstance, no matter how solid it seems. We always have the capacity to turn toward the same internal guidance system that taught us how to use our hands and feet, that beats our hearts and breathes our lungs, that turns our food into nourishment and eliminates what isn’t useful. When our thinking quiets down, especially as we naturally come to hold the “world out there” less and less responsible for our feelings, the more and easier access we have to this wisdom that’s greater than ourselves and will allow us to have a different experience of our lives.

The human truth highlighted in these points reach beyond the classroom to suggest a possible solution to almost all global problems. We can see hints of this in the Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO, which (written in a less gender-conscious era) declares: “. . . since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed.”

ICAP thanks Ms. Anne-Marie Cappellano and The Skyscrape Foundation of Saint Helena, Calif., for their generous support and efforts to make this initial iChoose 2.0 event a success.

If you work at or know of a school or group of teachers that would benefit from a similar workshop or would like to know of other programs that can support students and teachers, please contact: info@icapeace.org