The United Nations General Assembly meets once a year, gathering 193 states to put their heads together to solve the world’s problems. As the main deliberative, policymaking and representative organ of the United Nations, the General Assembly provides a unique forum for multilateral discussion of the full range of international issues covered by the UN charter. The assembly meets in regular sessions intensively from September to December each year, and adopts numerous resolutions to be applied by its member states. Gender equality, eradication of poverty, rights of indigenous people, weapons of mass destruction, international terrorism, the Cuban embargo and the situation in the Middle East are just a few examples of what fills their discussions.
In the midst of it all, a small three-month pilot project in El Salvador ignited action from the UN Mission of El Salvador to share what Brain Education (BE) is and does for its colleagues around the world, and to propose that they consider it as a tool to advance UN goals for global peace and development.
Representatives of 12 countries, WHO (World Health Organization), UNEP (UN Environmental Program), UNCTAD (UN Conference on Trade and Development) and civil society gathered around a table, and Carlos Enrique Garcia, deputy permanent representative of the Mission of El Salvador to the United Nations, opened the discussion. “We want to share with you what we’ve witnessed in our country in a very particular school surrounded by high levels of violence through a three-month initiative on Brain Education,” he said, referring to BE as a type of education that “contributes to the UN Millennium Development Goals, global peace and development.” He emphasized how the government of El Salvador, in particular the Minister of Education, has followed the project closely and wants to expand it to eight more schools in the Salvadoran capital, including schools with high violence indicators. What they seek is to reach a larger-scale impact of Brain Education on their youngsters. If they can do this with a critical number of young people, they envision that the future of the country could eventually be influenced for the better.
A speaker representing IBREA (the International Brain Education Association) explained Brain Education thusly: “Our brain contains everything. When we live, our brain waves are alive. When we die, they stop. We think, speak, and move through our brain. With our brain, we solve problems, we love and dream dreams and make plans for the future. Our brain is the place where dream and reality come together. And yet, we live our lives not knowing the brain.” BE is based on the belief that every human being is born with an immense potential in their brain and that we all share the same nature, which is pure. But the information that we receive beginning at birth and all the experiences we go through often make us lose our awareness of that infinite potential. “Brain Education does not provide ethics or morality to be this way or this other way, a good person or a better professional,” stressed Ju Eun Shin, IBREA’s Director in New York. “It simply helps people remember their humanity.” She went on to explain how the BE methodology combines different mind-body techniques that help develop and sustain optimal health conditions at physical, emotional and cognitive levels, “with the ultimate aim of optimizing the brain’s potential and connecting with our deeper nature inside our brain”.
By doing that, IBREA believes, we realize our natural desire for peace and harmony inside of ourselves, within our communities, in our countries and in the world. And immediately, motivated by our conviction, we start to act and live that way. This, according to IBREA experts and representatives of El Salvador, is why Brain Education can play a role in solving our global problems. This change in mentality and culture among the people can have a particularly positive impact on the conditions of the developing world, IBREA representatives emphasized, and thus contribute to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). “Unfortunately, today there exists a victim consciousness and passive approach in many developing countries,” Shin continued. “They continue to receive technical assistance from the developed world, but the goodwill behind those actions does not solve all the problems.” Brain Education can give young people in developing countries the opportunity to recover and build up their confidence, take ownership of their problems and find their own creative solutions.
An independent researcher measured the impact of the three-month pilot program, including collection of quantitative and qualitative data on focus and control groups among teachers and students before and after the project. The results showed significant positive changes in peer relationships, anxiety, symptoms of trauma, self-regulation, stress management and levels of violence in the school and the community. Among the qualitative data, the testimony of one of the girls who received BE spoke to her loss of fear and the recovery of her dreams and the confidence to achieve them.
What might be the most remarkable aspect of this event is how a mind-body technique is placed within the global scenery. Traditionally understood as a self-development tool, it is taken out that framework to suggest a possible large-scale impact. After all, an individual’s change impacts the community, and a community’s change impacts a nation, and a nation’s change impacts the world. Following a Salvadoran success story, a number of country representatives, notably from Latin America and Africa, are ready to experiment and give this innovative approach a chance within the UN agenda.