Q&A with Maureen Pelton
Maureen Pelton is the founder of the Shift It Institute, helping students to shift their paradigms, and embrace their truest, essential self. Here she answers questions about how to reveal our authentic self, how to live that truth every day, and how to find our purpose in life. Read on to hear her wisdom.
What is the Essential Self, and how can we awaken this?
I define the Essential Self as our true nature, consisting of intrinsic wisdom, intuition, inner authority, and innate goodness. As spiritual/energetic beings in physical form having human experiences, the Essential Self is our birthright and is accessible through embodiment of our soul essence. Through the human conditioning process, we often disconnect from or diminish our true nature. As we absorb the beliefs, emotions, stories, and constructs within the environment in which we are raised, a false self or ego is programmed into our human operating system. Awakening the Essential Self is when we move beyond this programing and automatic reactions, and into the consciousness of our bodies, energy, and hearts. This can happen by quieting the false self through contemplative practices such as mindfulness meditation or yoga. Awakening can happen when we are faced with major life challenges inviting us to expand beyond our conditioning, and it can happen through spontaneous mystical experiences. Awakening the Essential Self is a process of maturing into personal sovereignty and empowerment by blending our physical form with the energetic essence of our soul.
You talk about integrating and radiating the Essential Self - what does this look like in our daily lives?
As the Essential Self awakens, we are invited to transform and transcend the limitations of the false self or identity that was conditioned by the external world. As we are acculturated, abandoning or diminishing our true nature to fit into our environment, we can become doubtful, confused, and anxious. Integrating and radiating the Essential Self is when we return to our true nature and brilliance by focusing inward, allowing our intrinsic wisdom, intuition, inner authority, and innate goodness to navigate and manifest our lives. In our daily lives, we are grounded, present, aware, curious, and actively participating in the unfolding of our intentions. There is grace, ease, joy, clarity, and focus in our approach to daily living as our purpose continuously emerges.
How important is it to know your purpose in life, and what is the first step in finding this purpose?
I believe we are happiest when we have a purpose that aligns with our Essential Self. When the body and soul are attuned, we have clarity about our brilliance and how to use it to impact the greater good. Life becomes meaningful, joyful, abundant, synergistic, and graceful. The first step is becoming aware of our automatic or reactive conditioning, motivations, and behaviors so we can discern appropriate choices. Since our intentions are powerful navigators directing our energy and action, it is important to be conscious and clear when setting them. Then we need to pay attention to what shows up or what we attract into our lives and respond with curious inquiry.
You founded the Shift It Institute - what are you teaching there?
My husband and I founded the Shift It Institute to invite people to shift paradigms by igniting consciousness and inspiring human potential. My husband, Charlie Hartwell, is bringing scientifically valid, scalable approaches to mind training through the Bridge Builders Collaborative. He is committed to awakening consciousness through mindfulness and self-awareness practices. I am focused on teaching Heartfulness, which I define as transcending human conditioning to move beyond material limitations, cultivating the deepest experience of love through connecting to all that is. While my husband focuses on the brain and intellect, I am passionate about embodiment and the intelligence of the heart. Together, we consult with organizations and coach individuals to reach their highest potential and to impact the greater good.
What prompted you to take self-awareness beyond your own life, and teach it to others?
At the age of 21, I had a spontaneous mystical experience that was my wake-up call and drastically changed the course of my life. Realizing we are energetic beings in physical form having human experiences, I have spent the past 30 years integrating and radiating my Essential Self. I had no intention to teach others. However, people were observing my life and me, and became curious about how I lived. For years, people were asking me to teach what I embodied so I created a course, HeartSight, Embodying Soul Wisdom, which I taught for 15 years. Now, I speak, consult, coach, and provide training about the Essential Self and Heartfulness. My first book on the topic will be released this fall.
What would you say to someone who is skeptical or fearful about this kind of work?
Of course, the false self or ego is terrified of awakening and integrating the Essential Self because it believes it will lose control and fears abandonment. That is why so many people push the snooze button on the wake-up call. It is important to understand the human conditioning process that occurs as we develop. Being programmed by the external world, the false self is attached to automatic thoughts, beliefs, stories, behaviors, and constructs, which created necessary order within the chaos of human development. Transforming and transcending this conditioning, we need to revisit some of that chaos with healthy skepticism. This kind of work can get messy, yet as adults, we can access our true nature and guidance from within to navigate the unfolding, being free to choose what is in alignment with our highest potential. Besides healthy skepticism, most important are the abilities of surrendering to, trusting, and having faith in the unfolding process. Ultimately, liberating ourselves from the false self is worth the effort and messiness.
Any advice for someone who feels stuck and inauthentic in their life?
Feeling stuck and inauthentic happens when the false self is in charge of our life. I suggest finding a contemplative practice (meditation, yoga, mindfulness), or an App (Happify, Headspace, emindful), or a good therapist/coach to become aware of the false self’s automatic operating system. Once you have awareness and support, you can begin to discern and make new choices, which can lead to embodied consciousness and the liberation of the Essential Self.
Any final words or advice for readers?
I caution people about replacing one set of conditioned beliefs, stories, and constructs with a new set of programming. So many of the teachings, practices, and approaches to self-awareness, meditation, and yoga include external beliefs, rituals, and hierarchy that continue to separate us from our Essential Self. Your teacher is within and its guidance includes your intrinsic wisdom, intuition, personal sovereignty, and innate goodness. I invite you on an inward journey of discovering your embodied Essential Self.
Maureen Pelton, Co-Founder of the Shift It Institute, is a social scientist with 30 years of professional experience igniting consciousness, inspiring human potential, and facilitating transformation beyond human conditioning. In addition, she has served as host of the Edge Learning Well Talk Radio Show, and has taught courses at the Integrative Health Education Center, the Penny George Institute for Health & Healing, and the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota. Currently, Maureen serves on the Advisory Board of The Representaion Project, and is Associate Producer of the documentary film, The Mask You Live In, which explores how society is failing our boys.