The hero’s journey is often thought of as a personal quest. However, when you look deeply, you’ll realize that the hero is just as valuable as the people that allowed for things to succeed. Husband and wife pair of the ShiftIt Institute, Charlie and Maureen Hartwell, show how it is not only an important way to walk the hero’s path but how you can actually walk it together in union. They do that through enlightening us about the intersection between psychedelics technology and meditation, sharing how they invest in consciousness ventures and inspiring people to connect more deeply to themselves so they can live happier and healthier lives. In this episode, dive in deeper into the entire mental space together with the blossoming of their relationship and learn about creating better mental wellness in the midst of the tremendous suffering in the world.
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The Intersection Between Psychedelics Technology And Meditation with Charlie Hartwell and Maureen Pelton
I’m excited to have these two amazing people that I met at the Awakened Futures Summit, Charlie and Maureen. One of the things that immediately impressed me most about both of you is when you speak, you speak your own truth and you don’t shy away from the truth. The love that’s oozing between the two of you is quite inspiring. It’s not only an important way to walk the hero’s path but how you actually walk the heroes’ path in union together. Welcome to the show. Thank you so much, Charlie and Maureen.
Thank you for having us.
Why don’t we start from where we are and then we can drop into your story how that is in relevance to your own hero’s journey. We’re talking about the intersection between psychedelics technology and meditation. What brought you here and why are you here?
Maureen brought me here many years ago and she got me into the space that we’re not working in. What brought me here is I have a connection to Consciousness Hacking. I’m an advisor. I’ve known and advised that group for some period of time. The people who founded this conference are our friends and we want to support this work in the convergence of all three of those things.
I would add that we met Mikey before he started Consciousness Hacking. I felt such intense love for him and from him. We walked away and said, “We love him and what can we do to support him?” Charlie said, “They’re doing this and we could sponsor him.” I’m like, “Let’s do it.” It’s because of our love for Mikey.
Let’s talk a little bit about the origin of the story because you guys invest in consciousness ventures. Tell us a little bit about that. Why not ventures in general? Why specifically conscious ventures?
Our mission is all about inspiring consciousness, igniting human potential and creating paradigm shifts. The work that I do within that framework and within that organization that we cofounded is to invest in the mental wellness space through this group called the Bridge Builders Collaborative. A group of investors that are investing in the mental wellness space and an application that can help people connect more deeply to themselves so that they can live happier and healthier lives. The reason for investing in that space is because we see a great human need to create better mental wellness, this tremendous suffering that is in the world. As investors, we also see an opportunity because the need is so great. The opportunity for scale is significant. That’s why we’re investing specifically in that space.
Is there an origin story behind either mental suffering or mental wellness? Is there anything of your personal narrative that taps into that?
I would say that I am a social scientist who’s been committed to alleviating suffering and have done that in many different ways. I became involved and then invited Charlie into the Mind and Life Institute, which is founded by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and Adam Engle and Francisco Varela. They have so much science around contemplative practices and transformation that we were hungry for applications getting out into the world. In my work, people were changing some, but they didn’t have the tools they needed for the deep transformation. We saw mindfulness and meditation as a way to help with that. I originally got involved in mindfulness, yoga and meditation many years ago because I had a spontaneous mystical experience.
Tell us about that.
Briefly, I had to have back surgery. The night before surgery the physician came in and said, “You may not wake up, you may be paralyzed. All of these things could happen. Good night.” I was in the hospital bed sitting there. I was already very deeply spiritual in my life. I had this experience of saying, “I am completely powerless. I have no control. My only control and power are that I’m choosing to do this. I could choose not to do it.” I surrendered. This is not a word most people understand. They understand it intellectually, but not deeply embodied surrender. I said, “I surrender.” At that moment I went on a trip. I made the decision but I surrendered to it.
When I came back, I had no idea what happened. I had no context for it because I wasn’t meditating or doing yoga or I had never done drugs so I didn’t know what was happening, but I was in tremendous joy. I went right to sleep. They woke me up in the morning to prep me for surgery and I was in this static joy. They rolled me into the operating room. They’re like, “Are you okay? Did you take drugs?” I’m like, “No.” They’re like, “We’ve never had anyone like this before.” When I came out of the surgery, which went beautifully and my recovery was beautiful, I woke up in joy again and I recovered much more quickly than they had thought I would.
My intention at that point was to finish my senior year of college and go on to law school but that changed my life. I then went on this path of discovery. I went to graduate school instead and try to find context for what happened to me. That led me down the path of doing yoga, meditation and all different practices of modalities and it transformed my life. I transcended so much and I continued to have mystical experiences and continued to live multidimensionally without drugs. I believe in psychedelics to help people get there.
Thanks for sharing the journey. If you look at the hero’s journey framework, that was an inciting incident. That was pre-Charlie?
Yes, I had a whole other life. I can say a little bit about that with us. I wasn’t serviced after that point and I wasn’t surrendered to evolving. I started working in the world doing executive coaching and organizational development and bringing new ways and new modalities. I was talking about transformation years ago in the corporate world and that they thought it was a little bit odd. I got married, I had a child. I continued to do my own personal work and continued with my own awakening process and I left my marriage. I knew I wanted something more and I kept opening my heart. Several years later, Charlie came into my life.
Do you want to tell us a little bit about what happened? Was it manifested? Did you make a list or you showed up that way?
No, when I first met Maureen, it was actually through our kids who are in school together. We got to know each other as friends. We understood that we shared this common love of spirituality. We had a connection and we actually started thinking about doing a business together before the relationship turned into a romantic relationship. I was in a marriage that was not working and hadn’t been for some time. I wasn’t able to admit that to myself but at the same time I met Maureen and I was falling in love with Maureen. She had no idea that was happening because she had good boundaries. There was a point in time when I had left my marriage and we realized this divine connection that we have, which when we explored that, people ask us how long have we known each other. It’s like millions of years and multiple lifetimes and now here we are sharing the sacred union that we have in our life.
I would like to add. You forget your awakening.
I could talk about my own hero’s journey, which was later than Maureen’s. Maureen talked about hers, which was full of surrender. Mine was I was a little bit more stubborn. For me to get to that point where I needed to surrender it took a lot of death. My father and my grandfather died within two years of each other. They were my role models. My business had been successful and everything that I’d done in my business wasn’t working out and that was ending. My first marriage was practically dead for all sense of purposes, but I hadn’t admitted it to myself. For me, I had a dream one night that I’ve climbed in the World Trade Center and I knew what I was going to do when I got to the top. This is after the World Trade Center actually comes down. I woke up and I realized I needed help.
Did that moment scare you a little bit knowing this is what’s happening in my dream?
I was not going to take a step and commit suicide practically, but I need help. I was so stubborn to all of this at the universe actually had to create three different death experiences happening at the same time for me to wake up. Once I got to that point and had that dream that was my opportunity to say, “Something needs to change.” That was my beginning of reaching out, seeking help and going down in my own spiritual journey and path.
If you don’t mind going there a little bit more. How were you able to maintain your own sovereignty during that time? Three deaths, physical and metaphorical deaths are very challenging.The moment of disagreement is when two egos collide. Click To Tweet
In going through the process, there are pieces of myself that I needed to take a look at and say, “This is an image that I had of myself,” and also that many other people had of me and projected onto me. How do I go and say it’s an image only? It’s not my true authentic self. I grew up in a society that was a wealthy society and you’re expected to do certain things. I had to begin to deconstruct all of the impression management. All of the image that you put out into the world and say, “All that matters is that I find out who I am and then act in that way and follow that path.” In that process of awakening for me, there was another piece where I had accumulated so many people in my life that I all thought were important. I came to recognize that many of those relationships were not built on authenticity.
I had to begin to let go of those relationships and find more authentic relationships, find what my purpose was and begin to act differently, not only in my business life but in my personal life. As a father, because in my first marriage, I had not been a good father. I show up differently for my two children and for my third child who was Maureen’s child. I needed a lot of help and support, which I found different people to support me through that journey.
Thank you both for sharing. Confucius had a mental model, which I come to later on in my life I appreciate. He said, “Self-mastery, family, country and world.” The way I interpreted it originally is this is too simple, let me skip a level. Later on, I got a little bit more mature and hopefully a little bit wiser. It was actually sequential but as I’m hearing going through my life, my own journey is actually fractal. It’s happening all at the same time. It’s like zoom in and zoom out all the time. As a part of the awakening process, I’d love to hear from you guys. You mentioned the awakening process, my reinterpretation and translation of this are deprogramming of ideas, beliefs, cultural things that are not of yours. Whether it be from your DNA, from your culture, from your parenting, from your environment and relationships. What are some of the key modalities that you came across that’s very effective for you two and deprogram those things that are not yours? If you can talk about that a little bit, that would be very helpful.
I’ve used a variety of modalities. Yoga and meditation for sure.
Any specific yoga or meditation?
Whatever works for you. It varies. Breathwork is one of my favorite modalities. It can be holotropic, there’s connected breath. Everything is always coming back to the breath. I am a lot about embodiment. It’s not an outward journey. Although as I live multi-dimensionally there are many layers it’s about bringing it here and being in my body with it. The embodiment piece is important and probably our favorite modality is play.
What kind of play?
We are extremely playful because I think this work is intense and we take it too seriously sometimes. For example, when we came together, there were some patterns he had from his past and I had. We played with them and had fun with them. Our kids at the time were pre-adolescent and they came together. They loved each other because they’d known each other. They watched us play with that. There’s never any stress or tension or fighting. We have disagreements, but it’s extremely playful and that helped us release a lot of our patterns and indoctrination. The kids caught on and started adding in. I remember a year or two into our relationship, our eldest Lucy said to her dad, “You are so stubborn.” He starts looking at, “How can I show up differently with her and not be so stubborn?” I can’t stress it enough. Even Tim Chang’s presentation plays such an important part of it. Because so much of what we’re doing is projecting out there anyways so if we can see that or be invited to see that and play with that, then it can shift. When we get defensive or we hold on or attach, it’s a little hard to shift.
We’d been married for ten years. We’ve been together for fourteen years, but we continue to do this work. It’s not like we’ve reached this state.
You haven’t arrived yet.
No, we haven’t arrived. My daughter said I was stubborn. I still have pieces of stubbornness and I still have idiosyncrasies. I am willing to look at them and do the work. Sometimes it’s funny how I do the work. Something hysterical happens and it happens faster and faster. The more you do the work. It’s like the universe is kicking me. I laugh at it and try to do the work the best I can to change the behaviors and then she’ll give me things about it. We’ll laugh hysterically, I’ll catch her doing something and we’ll have fun with it.
We’re talking about the play. I’m a very serious, intense person and that’s something that I do want to work on. Ultimately this is nothing but a dream life in general. Why be so serious all the time? In the moment of disagreement, when two egos collide, it’s challenging to bring the play to that because you have two opposing points of view. How do you bring that moment of play? To top this a little bit tactically, how did you create that environment? Is it an agreement? Is it a safe word? Is it a certain phrase or a certain touch? Share with us, how do you bring the play in one may say an intense moment of disagreement?
It’s probably the way we look at each other. I’m very animated so I’ll make a face and then he’ll start to laugh or we might touch each other and say, “Wait a minute.” We start to laugh. When we were outside I said, “Yes, I know,” and I leaned on him. We started laughing hysterically. There is a touch to it. I think there’s face making to it but I also think we live in joy. One of the most interesting things into our blending the families and living together, the eldest daughter, Lucy, Charlie’s daughter came up to me and she said, “You’re weird.” I’m like, “Yes, I know. What’s new?” I said, “Why do you say that?” She’s like, “It’s because you’re happy all the time.”
It startled me and I said, “What? Yes, I am. Aren’t you?” She’s like, “No.” There’s like, “Is your mom?” She’s like, “No.” I was like, “I want you to be and I want to give you permission to be.” I think even back then we’re holding space here for everyone to be happy and playful and joyful because why wouldn’t we. When we had a family meeting, we would have family meetings and I said, “Do you guys have anything you want to add?” The son, our youngest says, “Yes, dinners aren’t very good.” I started laughing hysterically because I don’t like to cook. When I cook, they’re not very good, “I will work on that and could I have your help?” The kids stepped up.
I notice a little bit something that you mentioned a couple of times. It’s almost that improv rule or law, “Yes, I am this way, aren’t I?” Then you continue to add on more. Are you conscious about that or was it more of a subconscious thing that you guys do?
It’s very conscious.
It’s cultivated. Anything you want to add?
The beautiful thing about being in relationship with Maureen is I would have tended to take myself seriously and she doesn’t. Though I have permission not to take myself seriously and at the same time, part of my nature is to be silly. Sometimes I do stupid things because I enjoy doing them and she was like, “What are you doing?” I’m silly and I’m enjoying it and I don’t care if anybody else does. Normally I’m trying not to do that in public, but when we’re at home. When I am falling into the negative patterns, you’ll probably point them out. Increasingly I’m like, “Where are those in my body? What part of my body is participating in that?” I find with my negative patterns that it’s not my whole self that’s doing that. It’s part of me.
I want to add, even Charlie’s very hard on himself. Even when I’ll get up in the morning and I’ll see him, he’s in the state of being hard on himself. I’ll look at him and I will say, “What’s going on?” He’s like, “Nothing.” I was like, “Did you make a mistake?” He’s like, “Yes.” We play with it and then he starts laughing. I’m like, “You are so terrible. You made a mistake.” We laugh and it’s over.
You make a joke out of it.
We are so hard on ourselves. I’m not going to join him on being hard on himself.
Do you guys coach each other? There are some conventional thoughts about this. Being in a relationship with one another is about protecting other entity, therefore people are into certain rules. You don’t want to play the role of a coach in a relationship because lovers are not coaches towards each other. That’s one school of thought. Another school of thought is we’re partnering this life together. When you do some stupid things, it’s not meeting my standards. Let’s talk about it. What’s your collective thought about this concept?Being in a relationship with one another is about protecting an entity. Click To Tweet
We actively call each other out and we have the agreement to do that. I don’t know if I would call it coaching as much as holding space and the agreement to listen. One of my favorite examples is we were seeing his mom and I haven’t seen her in a while because she traveled a lot. We got in a car together to drive somewhere. I talked the entire time to her. We went to this event and I talked to her the entire time back and then she left and he says to me, “I didn’t get to say a word to my mom.” I started laughing hysterically. I’m like, “No, you didn’t. It’s because I haven’t seen her and you’ve seen her.” He’s like, “That doesn’t work for me.” I’m like, “That doesn’t work for me either.” Thank you for pointing that out. I’m going to look at that. We do that with each other in a very receptive, playful way. In a way, there’s some coaching going on but I wouldn’t call it that.
I’d call it our partnership. It’s part of our intention and our agreement and how we operate.
I wouldn’t call that coaching as a coach myself because that’s how you felt at the time. You gave each other feedback about how you felt. There was no directive. What do you think about the idea of marriage being the third entity?
I think of it as intimacy takes you where you can’t go alone. We have to honor that entity and protect it in some ways because it deepens us as individuals. Do you know the vesica piscis?
I do not.
This is one complete. This is one complete and when they come together, it’s the space that they overlap. My personal sovereignty, his personal sovereignty but this is our marriage. In that space, something greater than us comes through. It’s not just the two of us. We do protect that and see that as sacred.
Anything that you do as a way to protect that third entity from your point of view, Charlie?
I don’t know if I would say protect it. I’d say we try to live in it. I suppose in living that and being authentic to that, then that is protecting it. Protecting it is different than terminology than cherishing it or holding true to it. It is being real for us and if there’s protection, we’re not going to let anybody else mess with that.
I think I see this protection from the outside like our business isn’t in there with us.
There are times where the two egos have frictions around a relationship. Washing dishes, the laundry and the mundane stuff, I don’t particularly like doing them. Hence why we hire cleaners to do all that stuff. At the moment, in service of the third entity, I’m willing to say, “Ego be quiet. In service of that entity, do it.” You do it. I’m curious to know if either one of you does that?
In my case, my ego says I want to do the laundry because I want to be helpful and she won’t let me do the laundry because I don’t do it the way that she wants it to be done. To be true and fair, I have wrecked a few pieces of clothing because I’m not a detail-oriented person so I might stick something in that doesn’t belong. It took me a long time to be able to be in surrender to the place of not doing laundry. This is a serious point. I’m like, “I have to stick the stuff in there. I put the blacks with the blacks and the whites with the whites.” She’s like, “You forget to take this out of the dryer and you wreck this,” so I actually had a very different experience of having to confront my need to be helpful with her desire to do the laundry, which admittedly she does it better than I do.
Coming back to the grappling of the ego in service of the third entity, because it’s not about the laundry, it’s not about the dishes. How do you coexist and co-create the third entity together in spite of the nuanced difference at that moment? Grappling with the ego. I’m curious to know the internal grappling at that moment.
This is a good example because this was very early in the relationship and he did the laundry and ruined some things. I’m like, “I like doing laundry. Let me do it. You don’t have to do it. I have the time to do it.” He does other things. He was upset. He’s like, “I want to do it so let’s make a list and tell me how to do it.” I’m like, “I don’t think that’s going to work.” We tried it once and it didn’t work. I’m like, “Please let me do it.” He was like, “All right.” Literally, I was coming home one evening from teaching and I pulled in the driveway and the steam was coming out of the dryer. I was like very consciously, “He’s doing the laundry.” I caught myself and I laughed hysterically. I walked in the house laughing hysterically and like, “You’re doing the laundry.” He’s like, “How do you know?” I owned it and it’s hysterical that I’m so controlling around the laundry. He’s like, “I want to be helpful and I can’t be.” That’s hard for me, so looking at those patterns and having humor about them.
There’s a deeper piece to that, which is I have to look at this pattern of why do I need to be helpful? That went way beyond the laundry. What are the giving and the receiving? I had to look at a pattern of I was a giver and I didn’t allow things to be received. The laundry was only an invitation to look at a pattern that was a much bigger pattern.
If my clothes get ruined, I have to buy new clothes and that’s a money issue. I had to look at what I can afford, “If that gets ruined, I can afford to buy another one.”
Washing dishes, laundry, these type of things or house cleaning, these are household issues. It’s an opportunity to examine our identity. Going back got you, how did you deprogram or at least inventory your identity, your core beliefs and continuing to pull the thread to what empowers you, what disempowers you?
As an investor, I have looked at probably 800 companies over many years, maybe more, maybe less. Lots of companies, just about anybody that’s in the mental wellness space, I’ve gotten to know most of them. My natural inclination was to be helpful to everyone. I needed to set boundaries particularly early on. It was one thing when the space was developing and there were a few companies. It was easy to be more helpful. As things went along, it was a question of how much am I being helpful in service to what my real work is and how much am I helpful because it’s a pattern. I had to look at that pattern about how much of myself am I giving away as opposed to what’s the balance of being in service to a bigger industry that is co-creating and not always giving everyone because they ask? For me, it got to an unhealthy place of I was spending too much time doing that. I needed to set boundaries and Maureen provided some wisdom along the way at times to say, “Why are you doing that?” I had to ask the question and I had to get to this piece of my programming and my family system going way back to when I was little, I needed to be helpful. That was part of my identity. It was about part of my survival mechanism in the family I grew up with so I needed to deconstruct that.
Let’s talk about the deprogramming a little bit. What specific things did you do to help you identify, “This was a pattern. Sometimes it concerns me, a lot of times it doesn’t.” In Maureen’s cases, meditation, yoga and breathwork. In your case, how were you able to actually see the pattern?
In our relationship, Maureen is the wisdom and I am the method. I’m the person that takes. If you think of it like out in the ether, there’s this wisdom that comes down and let’s say it gets channeled through you or that’s who you are. If I’m listening, then my gift is I know how to take things and scale them in the grounded world of how do we build businesses. How do we build infrastructure? How do we launch things? How do we create change in the physical world that we live in? That’s my gift. That’s what I’m good at doing.
Part of this was listening to her. She’s observing my behavior and watching me continue to be helpful in different areas, whether it’s the dishes or whether it’s in my business. She points it out. I have a choice whether to listen to it. I can either listen to it defensively and stubbornly, which I did for some period of time and say, “I have to look at this.” To be open to doing the work and to get down to, “Where does that come from? Where’s the program that created that?” and letting that pattern go and operating differently.
In Chinese, there’s a phrase in literal translation, friction and harmony. They usually use that word during a relationship. It’s a process to harmonize the two egos coming together and serve as the third entity. I’m projecting a little bit. I speculate that you didn’t join together and like, “We’re right away in harmony.” There was a process involved in your relationship. Would you agree with that? Was it a process? Was it a journey? Was it, “We’re perfect for each other?”
Our experience is unique because it was harmony right away. The connection and the deep love for each other were right away and it was before we became involved with each other. He was married so I wouldn’t have anything to do with that level of connection. When he left his wife and that opened up, it was divine from the get-go. Where we had the tension or the friction was the outside world.Being in tune to your heart is very important to the energy around. Click To Tweet
What does that mean?
He didn’t leave the marriage for me. He left the marriage and then we became involved and she became involved with someone else right away who she’s married to. For whatever reason, she created this narrative of punishing and blaming Charlie. It was terrible friction within the community we lived and most specifically for our children. It was painful for us, but we knew this wasn’t about us. It was her stuff. There was a lot of friction, it just wasn’t between us. We had some challenges with the new family she created with her husband and his four kids and for Charlie’s two kids who are my kids but I love them as my own. There’s a lot of friction there and having to show up and be present to them. It probably helped anchor our harmony and playfulness because we want it to them to be in an environment that was safe and life-giving when they were with us.
You had a higher purpose of coming together in service of the people who are dependent on you.
I think it would have happened anyway, but because of the kids that’s probably exacerbated it. I think that was naturally how we were going to be together.
I would say the only one moment of friction I remember was probably six months into the relationship when we had made an agreement to go kayaking with the killer whales in Canada and you weren’t committing to doing it. I booked my flight and scheduled myself to go. He comes home from work and I said, “I’m leaving on this date to go do this.” He was like, “What? You’re leaving?” I’m like, “Yes because you’re not committing.” It invited him into his therapist and it invited him to see that he wasn’t committing to this agreement with between the two of us to go on this journey because he was caretaking his kids. He came home from his therapist and said, “I see this pattern and is it okay if I come?” I’m like, “Yeah, if you can get a flight,” which he did and we went together.
Do you have any tips for people who are reading this as a way to prioritize? Let me share this a little bit of my own mental model. People usually say, “Yes, I prioritize.” Yes, when it’s easy. My integrity versus eating ice cream. It’s obvious integrity comes first. Oftentimes the challenges come when my kids versus a vacation with my spouse. They’re very right next to each other. Which one’s higher, which one’s lower? Do you have any rubric in a way to prioritize or think about when doing these challenging times, what is your higher priority?
We have to include the dog. Kids aren’t the problem, it’s the dog. This is the first time we’d been apart from our dog, Cookie, for some time because she is a priority. She’s like a child to us. I don’t know that we get together and talk about this. I don’t think we’re fixed about it. It’s situational and we’d say what our priority is. If it’s a priority for her but not for me, then we talk about it and we try to gain alignment, but I don’t know if we have, “This is our first, this is our second.” Life is part of our relationship. Our kids, our dog, our work, our vacations are a part of it and we’re in dialogue.
We’re in the flow and we’re checking in a lot and negotiating. Charlie will be like, “I’m going to Switzerland to this meeting. I want you to come.” I’m like, “I’ve got a lot on my plate right now. I’m not going to go.” He’s like, “That’s a bummer.”
Our life is about flow even down to where we’re living.
Say more about that. What’s flow for you and how do you cultivate it?
Let’s talk about that in the context of where we’re living. We had made a decision from a priority perspective. Our kids have gone, they were in college. They weren’t going to be coming back home. They were living in other places and we determined that we wanted to no longer spend winters in Minneapolis. We determined to get a vacation home so we began an exploration. We went and lived in different places for three or four winters and we checked out different coasts of Florida. We checked out San Francisco, we checked out Hawaii, we checked all of these areas. For a few years, we’re in this process, but nothing is quite working out. Together, we continue to explore and the flow moment came from wisdom.
My intuition is I said, “Have you ever been to Palm Springs?” He said, “No.” I said, “I haven’t either. Let’s go there for a week.” We flew in and we got off the airplane at that airport and we were like, “It’s so incredible.” We’re spending a week at a hotel. We left at the end of the week with a house.
We knew the community, but then the other piece was we were looking at houses in different areas and our realtor drove us past this one set of mountains and she started to cry. I said, “This is it.” I knew that was where we were going to be and we found a place within two miles of that.
To answer your question about flow, for 35 years, I’ve done all the things and studied all modalities and I’m studying one now and I’m constantly learning. My work has been about raising the vibratory rate of the body so I can channel, go into a trance and bring in energies. As I’ve done this and continue to do it, it was great because there would be this friction and then I’d have the breakthrough. What it would be as like, “This is too much and my life is chaotic because of it.” I’d have this breakthrough and they would be in this other place. What happened is my vibratory rate kept arising and staying there. It was interesting because I was talking to Rael Cahn about this and he totally got it. He’s a scientist. He’s like, “There’s more synchronicity in your life.” I’m like, “I can manifest just about anything.” I feel like I live in the flow most of the time. I think when I come out of it is when I need to take a break from being in it. I often say this material world can be hard sometimes. When I’m trying to live in the material world and get things done, it can be difficult. I have to take a little break from it and then I can deal with the materialistic things.
I want to follow up on that one. I’ll give Charlie a chance to talk about your definition of flow and how you manage your own flow?
Part of it for me is setting the intentions and a lot of times is listening as things come into my life and how do I get out of the way for the intention to manifest itself. I find it less so over a period of time, but as things come up, I’m expecting them to be a certain way because I set the intention. Then I think God or whatever laughs and says, “You think you know how that’s going to manifest?” Normally, the joke’s on me because something comes out of the left field that I wasn’t expecting and there within lies the answer but I’m sitting there saying, “That’s not what I expected.” A lot of times it’s Maureen who says, “Pay attention to that.” If I’m listening, I will pay attention to that. The flow is already there. I’m just getting in the way of the flow. It’s setting the intention and then watching what happens and paying attention to it and being open to it. From an ego perspective, I think this was a big part of letting go of the ego. It was like when I struggled that I couldn’t imagine what the answer was going to be or what the direction was going to be.
Every time I did that, the more I raised my own vibratory rate, the quicker the universe would send something to say, “You’re full of crap,” and I’d start laughing because I know the answer and you would say, “You’re dictatorial.” I’d be declarative. I know what’s going to happen because I went to Harvard Business School and we were taught to be in command and in control. We knew the answers and that’s the family system I was raised and you’re expected to that. It got to a point where it would be sometimes seconds after I said something declarative and then it would be proven wrong. It’s like how do you get your own self out of the way to let something bigger or more divine or more flow to allow it to come through?
One may misinterpret that as not setting the intention at all. Let me follow the flow and observe. I love the EN sign where there’s a little bit of black and there’s a little bit of white in the black. My own mental model is set an intention but hold it loosely and observe what’s around. I’m curious to know your point of view. How do you actually hold those two spaces together? I also want to come back to you about raising your own vibration. That’s a very juicy topic that a lot of people want to know. If you share a little bit about your own mental model, the intention and the flow or surrendering that would be amazing.
The intention is our choice to a certain extent. It’s here’s who I am, here’s what my intentions are for my life or my work or for whatever. I get to set those and those can change over a period of time, but we get to make those choices. I make those and sometimes we set those together for our relationship or for our work for our own mission, but they’re not fixed in stone. Our choice for my perspective is to set the intentions and then see what happens.
After you set it, you set it aside and observe what happens. Is that what you mean?
We talked a lot about the curious inquiry and we’ve been doing this with our kids because they’re at that age where they’re starting out in their careers and we’re like, “You know what you intend, so be in curious inquiry about what shows up.” It’s essential.Get your own self out of the way to let something bigger or more divine come through. Click To Tweet
One of the conventional ways of thinking, Joseph Campbell, “Follow your bliss or follow your passion.” When they imagine there’s so much pressure like, “I don’t know my passion. I don’t know what bliss looks like. Am I in bliss right now?” Curiosity is this low pressure. Pull the thread of curiosity. You may find bigger and bigger energy and then you call it passion. Bigger and bigger energy and call it bliss. Coming back, it’s a great segue to high vibration living. You were living in a really high vibration. How do you cultivate that high vibration in the body, in mind, in the environment and in the heart?
Very intentionally and I’m committed. I work a lot with subtle energy and we create space. One of the things I need is that our homes be our best sanctuary energetically. That’s why I’m crying when I saw the mountains and I’m like, “This is it.” It’s the mountains. The home is there. To be able to support that, I have to live in such a way in which I’m honoring that higher vibration and that space and I hold space a lot. I do that very intentionally. It’s hard to put into words. It’s very heart-centered. It’s coming from that static love. Not love as we define it but joyful love, which is why Lucy thought I was weird for being happy all the time.
It’s this place of compassion, forgiveness, kindness, unconditional love. That’s where I live. People will come into our home and say, “I could feel this.” People will say to me, “You’re loving.” They do feel it, they don’t quite understand it. We have an agreement that I’m in the background. I used to teach and work like crazy out in the world and I walked away from it all. I stand behind Charlie as he is the method. A lot of what I do is invisible to a lot of people, not to Charlie and to some others. I have the privilege and I feel blessed to be in that place and I prefer it over being out in the world. I used to be on stage. I don’t want to do that anymore. It evolved to this. I know others who have been on their journey and I’m not at the end of mine nor have I reached a state. I continue to keep doing my work, but I know others who feel the same way. I don’t want to be as engaged in the material world. It was a good ride when I was there, but I want to be in this space. I’m grateful I can be.
Space is very important and being in tune to your heart is very important and to the energy around. For the people who are reading, “I’m in. I want this.” Tactically, what can they do to take some steps to raise their own vibration? Do you have any suggestions for them?
I think any grounding exercise and breath work and the somatic embodiment and all of that. Instead of going out, it’s about creating the container that can bring it all in. It’s both, it’s deep within but it is expansive without that paradox. I would even call it dynamic stillness. It’s getting to that space where it’s here, which is why, for example, I’m good in crisis because I’m not out, I’m in here but I do understand that journey. When I used to teach, we would do grounding and the students are like, “This is uncomfortable. I feel heavy and I don’t like this.” I’m like, “Yes, that’s because you’ve been out most of the time.” It’s going to take a little while to get more deeply in and you’re going to feel that density. It’s not attractive to a lot of people but if you stay with it, the vibration of the body starts to shift.
Have you ever watched the movie, Being John Malkovich?
Yes, because I like John Malkovich.
He’s extremely talented. The thing that came to me, part of the movie there in his head, you can actually see it. It’s almost like they’re riding a robot and looking through his eyes. I would say a lot of my own journey is actually very much like that. I’m not all the way out here. I’m actually a little bit more distant. As I came more in the body, the lens comes closer. I actually had a psychedelic experience where I’m too much out here and I was at total unknown territory. I had no idea. It’s super overwhelming. It was super raw and super sensitive. I’m very curious about the steps one needs to take. I would love to be more in body but I don’t know how actually to take that step. Do you have any suggestions for people like me or me?
I think part of it is that we are so entrained to be out of our body. I call it living above the neck and quieting the mind and getting into your heart space is probably the right to start with most people. This was when I was doing executive coaching. These very successful men wanted to get from their heads to their hearts. Helping them to get there meant you have to examine some of your programmings and be courageous enough to change it and come from the heart. The heart is much more about connection and allowing, emerging and unfolding versus I know the way and this is what we have to do. Practicing that is important.
This was such a good example. We both got in the cab and we wanted to go to the ceremony and we got in and I knew right away we weren’t going to make it. I sat there calmly and said, “Breathe.” The driver was upset and Charlie was upset and they’re both men. I’m thinking, “If they could shift into the three of us our together. Be together and it will all be fine and we’ll get here and it will all be fine and it was.” That was a good example. The attachment to how we want things to be, which is coming from the head interferes with us being in our body.
Because it should be a certain way and it’s not this way. There must be a problem or something’s wrong and you have your anxiety, your anger, your fears and the survival instincts that pops up.
Versus I’m just right here now and this is what it is.
Charlie, going back to you, do you have any specific tactical or any daily disciplines as a way to help you tap into higher vibration every day?
On this topic, I think you’re the one to defer to. I listened to your wisdom and I do have my own practices, but I don’t think this is my area, even though my last name is Hartwell. It’s a good last name. I tried to live in my heart. You embody that and I think you’re more the expert in that.
I don’t know that you’ve lived high vibrationally in which I’m grateful for because he’s my rock.
Can you say more about that? I’m curious. Let’s talk about that.
Here I am in the material world and I’m helping to bring organizations, companies, entrepreneurs, product services that are going to help all of us raise our vibrational rate if we choose to embrace them. I try to help in the grounded, practical, physical world. How do we get those in the healthcare systems? How do we get those into corporations? How do we get the FDA to pay attention and to reimburse things? How do I help an entrepreneur if they have a problem with their team? How do we price things? Those are not all things that if I was at a higher vibrational rate all the time, those would be practically irrelevant or not things that one would focus on. It’s my passion for the work that I do to be able to be in that place so that we can create more chances for humanity to live differently and so that our species can actually survive. There are times when you have said, “I’m so glad that you are my grounding force or the rock that helps to bring you back down sometimes from that.”
It’s not back down, it’s more of you’re an ingenious innovator. You just know how to laser the method. You know how to laser channel that into this material world and get it done and I have no interest in that.
I had an interesting conversation with my Lyft driver that’s may be interesting to this. He essentially says success is being able to achieve your vision and fulfillment is visioning what you achieve. I hear two sides of the same coin. You are about success, achieving all your visions. Set it, achieve it in this material world and you’re more focusing on wanting what you achieve.
We have a foundation called the Eagle and the Hawk. I’m the eagle, he’s the hawk because I soar above and have the vision. He actually listens and it goes down that path.
Talk a little bit about that journey from being very cerebral, HBS to heart-operated and then striking a harmonious balance. The harmony between the two in your own journey. That would be helpful because people like me who is on that journey will love to know your own journey.
I think the way that I framed this a little bit is being in touch with both the masculine and feminine side of myself. While that’s not necessarily the same as being in the head and the heart. Even when I’m in my head, I’m a kind and generous person. I always have been. It is my nature. That is a heart-centered activity, not a brain-centered activity. At the same time, I was trained at Ivy League universities. I worked on Wall Street. I’ve had all these other things that kept me in my head and my family system was very much about being in the head and how do you make sense of this world.Success is being able to achieve your vision. Fulfillment is visioning what you achieve. Click To Tweet
There are times where in the business world I have to be in my head and make sense of things. At the same time, how to be in your heart and be kind and generous and use my gifts to increase the chance of success of something. Doing it from a place of generosity versus a place of greed. Doing it from a place of kindness versus I have to use you to get what I want to be done. Using it from a place of collaboration versus dominance and suppression, which is what they taught at Harvard Business School. When I went there, it was a dominant suppression model. I struggled to be there because that’s not the way I operate.
In the world that I live in, my play is how do we, I being part of it, co-create a new global industry around mental wellness. That’s not about me dominating. That’s me about unleashing and collaborating and being able to see different people’s gifts and to say to a certain extent it’s like, “You should connect with this person, this idea should connect with this capital, this idea should connect with this insurance system. This gift I have is to see on some other plane how to connect energies of people, ideas, products, services to distribution systems that help scale things.” A part of that is the knowledge that I have in my head and my learning and part of it are if I’m in my heart, it’s like, “This makes sense to connect this to this and who do we collaborate with to make this happen?” That’s my modus operandi on how I operate.
I want to add. He’s so empowering. It’s all about empowering the other. The way he works with his entrepreneurs or even the boards, they all love him because he’s kind and empowering. It’s never about Charlie.
For entrepreneurs, that’s reading this and there are a lot of them who want to operate from that bigger model. There’s also a lot of noise from the media, from our prior training, wherever they get it that you got to outcompete and you’ve got to force your way through this. You need to step on other people as a way to get to the top. It’s difficult because they’re birthing a new idea, a new product and new service into the world without actual evidence yet. There is that cognitive dissonance and to be a visionary, you got to hold that and continue to generate momentum towards that. At times, it’s a lonely journey. How do you have faith going towards your purpose, your mission, birthing the idea into the world? At the same time, everyone else is telling you got to out-compete. You got to be profit-driven. Any suggestions for them to continue to walk their own hero’s journey as entrepreneurs, as high impact leaders who are birthing this new model in the world without evidence yet?
In 1998, I met this woman who was the first woman that had ever crossed the ice to go to the North Pole. Her name’s Ann Bancroft. She’s the only woman in the world that ski both the North and South Pole. She’d come back and been financially unsuccessful, but it created such inspiration for girls and women. She sat down and talked about this expedition that she wanted to do to cross Antarctica. I had this professional emotional moment where she told me her vision and it was channeled. How do we do this? How do you cross this? How do you not go into debt? How do you create a global impact? She describes how after meeting me, her fax machine was like I had a business plan. I was writing it out and she decided to partner with me. We cofounded a company together, which turned out to be the first for-profit expedition in US history. What she wanted to do only made sense to me if we looked at making it bigger than it wasn’t doing it as a for-profit model.
It was her mission, but it became our mission. How do we inspire girls and women around the world through this incredible expedition? In order to do that, you’re facing elements of the actual expedition. It was about 90-days. It’s pulling 25-pound sleds across Antarctica. 1,700 miles are going from sea level to 10,000 feet. There are no other humans that they run into the entire time except at the South Pole. It’s minus 20 all the time. How do we do that and then how do we create a global movement about the empowerment of women and girls through that at a time when women’s sports were not what they are. The WNBA was starting and there was no sponsorship for girls or women. In order to do that, we could have a vision, but we needed a team. I needed to find people who were better than me at all of the areas that would create this global movement. We need to do it in a couple of years. I can’t ski across Antarctica, nor did I care too.
I only use my leadership gifts to go find the best people in certain areas of technology, marketing, sponsorship, to help take this expedition and create and find sponsors like Volvo, Motorola, Apple, the Girl Scouts, CNN and raise more money competing against the Olympics. We’ve found these sponsors and we created a global event that generated three billion media impressions. Three million kids from 65 countries were following along through an educational curriculum that we developed. When I look at that, I can’t do any of that but you find people who can help you. For entrepreneurs, what I’d say if you are the vision holder. You are the leader. Who do you go out and invest with that’s actually going to support you? As an investor, when I find somebody that says, “I want to find people that are better.” I may be an A-minus entrepreneur. I want to find A-plus people that are on my leadership team. That’s when I actually get more interested in investing in them. If it’s about the entrepreneur, you’re not going to go that far. You need to trust people that are better than you at the areas that are going to make your vision successful.
It’s definitely beautiful and there’s a phrase that goes if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. You illustrated that with your powerful narrative. Let’s use that example. When she came to you, did she have that vision crystallized or you helped her broaden that vision to inspire girls in sports and all these things? Did she have that powerful narrative?
She had a vision. My vision was how do we accomplish it and how do we make it bigger than you think it can be.
She had a glimpse of a vision. You helped her develop it.
She had a mission. She wanted to be the first all-women’s expedition across Antarctica. She knew she wanted to do that. She was a schoolteacher. She knew she wanted to empower girls. That’s what she had done for a living. This was actually her classroom. What she trusted me to do is actually say, “Let’s make that much bigger. Let’s use that event to make it much more scalable than you thought it was before we met.”
You helped to operationalize that vision with a business plan, with the team recruitment and all these other things.
I was talking to my daughter who is working for La Liga and to helping to bring Spanish soccer to North America. She’s developing sponsorships. I remembered back when we went out with this idea to sponsors. We’re sitting there talking to the CEO of Volvo and vice president of marketing at Apple. We were trying to create tangible things, but we were selling a vision. We not only had the passion that people believed in. For entrepreneurs, your vision is what people will believe in. The team that you hire will help you to make that. Investors, if you’re looking for them, they will come because of that. In doing that, I’ll never forget sitting down with the CEO of Volvo after the expedition, they paid us a good sum of money. They were our lead sponsor and I sat down and I dumped all the media on his desk. It was two feet high. The major articles. They’d been on David Letterman. He said it’s the highest return on investment of any sponsorship in Volvo’s history. That comes from a vision and then creating something that’s not there yet and all of a sudden it happens. It became bigger than we ever thought it could be.
How do we find more Charlie Hartwell and Maureen Hartwell? That would be a natural question. Get it, enroll. Do you want to go far? Find a confident team to help you develop your vision into an operationalizable way to make a change in the world.
You know your question of, “How do we find more of those?” I think it’s finding it within everyone. Everyone has this gift and it’s not our gifts. My gifts are not Maureen’s gifts and your gifts are not my gifts. How do you find your gifts? Whatever it is that you intend to do, that’s all inside you. I’d say everyone has this, not just different.
I’ll speak in terms of manifesting. I do think setting an intention and to get out of the way so it can manifest, it does also mean you’re going to be shown what needs to be changed within you for that to happen. Before we became a couple, I’ve been divorced for several years and I wanted a partner. I had set a very clear intention about wanting a partner who I could play with. He wasn’t descriptive. It wasn’t him. It was about me. How I wanted to feel in a relationship, free and playful and met. Charlie at the same time was married before we met. If I can share this, we had wanted more intimacy in my life thinking they would manifest with his wife. It did not, which is why he left his marriage.
I believe there are seven billion people on the planet. There has to be one partner out there for me. I didn’t know what he would look like. How we would show up, when it would be but I believed it and it happened and not exactly how I would have wanted it to happen. That commitment to the intention and the belief that it would happen. When it did, the first few months, I would say to Charlie weekly when we were dating, “I can’t do this, I’m too vulnerable.” I was like, “What’s up for me to get out of the way here is how strong I had been and not willing to be vulnerable.” I had to go down that path.
Meaning to your discomfort?
Yes and start going interdependence because I’ve been so independent and I had to do some work around that. If I hadn’t, I would have gotten in the way of the relationship.
You let your ego get out of the way in service of this new third entity that you’re doing together.
Every time I’d say, “I can’t do this, I’m too vulnerable,” he would laugh and go, “I love you,” which was helpful. I can’t say enough for the entrepreneurs. If they have a vision and an intention and they want to manifest it, they do you have to believe it can happen, but they also have to be observant of what is subconscious or unconscious in them that are getting in the way if it’s happening.
I love the ethos of this organization called EO, Entrepreneurs Organization. My understanding of their ethos is it’s never about the business. You want to change in business, change an entrepreneur. Change your internal lens on how you look at this reality. It starts from within. Going back to Confucius. It’s like self-mastery, family, countries and the world. We covered a lot. Thank you so much. I appreciate both of you being so generous with your wisdom, with your story, with your narrative. For someone that’s reading, what’s one actionable thing that they can take from all the different angles that we’ve covered? From self-mastery through relationship to building businesses. What’s one actionable tip that you would give them and say, “Do this, start here?”If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Click To Tweet
Do your own work. Set the intention, pay attention and then go after what shows up.
I would say always return to your breath in your body. Experiencing breath in your body.
Is there any specific technology that you come across or you bullish about? You’d look at 800 different things. Is there anything that will enable us to set your intention, get in the body and get out the way?
We’ve invested in several companies that can help with that. There are others here that also can help that. I think a great tool that we invested in is called Insight Timer. Insight Timer is a meditation app or a consciousness app that’s got 3,000 teachers from around the world teaching in their own native language. Maybe they’re musicians or they’re meditation teachers or maybe they’re scientists. With 350,000 people every day using it or maybe 1.8 million to 1.9 million people using it on a monthly basis. What I find is that tool can help people down this path because you find what works for you on the platform versus here’s our prescribed path for you. There’s a wealth of different teachers that you can find to meet you at the moment that you’re at. I think that’s a technology that we have found that I’m pretty excited about.
Since we are in the intersection between meditation and psychedelics and technology, we definitely need something like the Insight Timer for a psychedelic journey. What happens afterward? How do you actually integrate the peak experience into our daily lives? One thing that one may look at is to have an Insight Timer to help you integrate everything that you learn because everyone is different. People may resonate with me the way that integrates it, but they resonate with you the way you integrate things.
I have two technologies. If you’re wanting to connect more deeply to your body so that you can start checking in with it more, I think Muse. Ariel from InteraXon was talking about what she didn’t mention is that besides the brain waves, there’s heart rate variability, movement and breathe. If you’re starting to check-in and go in and be present to yourself and your body, you’re going to get data on all of those things. I don’t know why she didn’t mention those other things. It helps you to go, “I thought I was in that state and here’s what my body was doing.” I think that’s helpful for that embodiment piece. In terms of technology, if you want to transcend some of this subconscious belief and core drivers and negative patterns.
There’s this amazing technology that is about ten-years-old and there are only about 70 of us in the world who are certified in it called Quantum Neuro Reset Therapy. We use neurological testing with light and we use muscle testing. We use lasers and basically the body tells us what the subconscious imbalance in the brain, the belief in the body, and we do a reset to the emotional pathways in the nervous system that clears it. I’ve never seen anything like it in many years. I have been doing it and it’s mind-blowing. It’s 20 to 40 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve never seen a change in people the way I have seen with this.
Have you experienced other modalities like transformational methodologies?
More than dozens.
We were joking, “After someone has used psychedelics coming through that and reintegrating their body is going to be in this place of processing, wouldn’t it be great to do Quantum Neuro Reset Therapy then?” Because what’s probably going to show up is what showed up in their experience, whatever that was that needs to be cleared. The thing I like about this is it’s clearing it on a biological, chemical and physical level. It’s quick and efficient.
Some of the stories that you have an instant shift and how it manifests itself are remarkable.
Thank you, both.
- Consciousness Hacking
- Bridge Builders Collaborative
- Mind and Life Institute
- Entrepreneurs Organization
- Insight Timer
About Charlie Hartwell
Charlie is a change agent who shepherds ideas, resources and talent to drive sustainable growth. Passionate about transformation and innovation; he is a leader who ignites teams to accomplish remarkable results. He is a Harvard Business School graduate who has led, founded, run and worked in organizations in 16 different industries. He’s served in various organizations including corporate, small business, start-up, non-profit – and in leadership roles such as President, Chairman, board member, founder, consultant, coach, and trustee.
About Maureen Hartwell
Maureen has a Masters of Science in Social Work degree. Her 30 years of professional experience includes integrative psychotherapy, coaching, consulting to over 150 organizations, training health care professionals, facilitating workshops, and leading spiritual retreats. She was the host of the Learning Well Talk Radio Show and taught courses at the Integrative Health Education Center at Normandale Community College. Maureen has created curricula and taught at the University of Minnesota through the Center for Spirituality and Healing. Maureen continues to expand her consciousness by integrating a variety of modalities, which include: Quantum Neurological Reset Therapy (QNRT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Touch for Health, Energy Medicine, Navigating the Soul’s Journey, Igniting the Creative Spirit, Professional Training with the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, HeartMath, Nonviolent Communication, Homeopathy, Yoga, and Meditation. She has been mentored in intuitive reading, energy healing, breath work and past-life regression facilitation.