Maureen Pelton is co-founder and coach at ShiftIt Institute, a program that ignites consciousness to inspire human potential and creating paradigm shifts at both a personal and institutional level. Using a variety of holistic modalities in her coaching practice, Maureen inspires people to awaken their true nature, take responsibility for their lives, and revel in authenticity. She specializes in Quantum Neuro Reset Therapy, Energy Medicine, Healthy Relationships, Nonviolent Communication, Leadership Development, Life Purpose & Passion, Mindfulness Skills, Breathwork, and Guided Imagery.
Maureen has dedicated her life to shifting the consciousness of humanity and institutions. She is a highly sought after consultant among entrepreneurs, tech leaders, and people on the path of awakening. Her clients describe her as a “force of nature,” and “absolute magic.” Maureen’s work as a change agent and modern mystic supports her clients to become fully alive, embodied, and sovereign. As a paradigm shifter, Maureen has pioneered courses, programs and retreats for universities, healthcare systems, and corporations.
I tracked Maureen down this summer after I listened to her on the Untangled Podcast, where she discussed connecting the head and the heart. The episode served as hope for me that it was possible, and since then we’ve formed a great friendship.
Bryan Wish: Maureen, welcome to the One Away Show.
Maureen Pelton: Hi, Bryan. Thanks for having me.
Bryan Wish: Well, thank you. Thanks for being here. For those that don’t know Maureen, I listen… Maureen, I think I told you this, I listened to a podcast you were on back in June about connecting the head and the heart and living from a heart space. Your words have been with me on a pretty, pretty long journey. I want to just thank you for everything you’ve done and the work that you do. To dive in, Maureen, what is the One Away moment that you want to share with us today?
Maureen Pelton: Well, just checking in because there’s been so many. I think the one I would like to talk about today is the deep experience, and knowing that I have, that I actually had a long time ago and been living my life in this space is that I am an energetic being in physical form, having a human experience, and I am love. That energy is unconditional love.
Bryan Wish: Well, that is a great way to start this show. Let’s unpack that a little bit.
Maureen Pelton: Sure.
Bryan Wish: You said you had this knowing maybe from an early age, how did this come to you? When did you first experience this or understand this insight?
Maureen Pelton: That’s a really good question. When I was born, I had an interesting birth, and then as I was growing and moving through my human development, I always felt a connection. I never lost that connection. I always had a sense and a knowing of this energy, this God, this, whatever you want to call it, that was greater than me. That connection really helped me actually to survive.
I have very clear memories from a very young age of being connected to that and praying. I was born into a Catholic family. For the first 18 years of my life, I practiced Catholicism deeply because it’s all I knew, and it was a way for me to stay connected to this energy that was greater than me.
That was my orientation to it in the beginning, because all of us, from the moment we’re conceived, we are being conditioned, we are being trained, belief systems are being absorbed from those around us. That’s what I had in the beginning. But then I left the church when I was 18 and I went looking around at other religions because in our culture, that’s how we have this spiritual life, at least back then, that’s what I believed. I realized after exploring religion, that religion wasn’t for me, that I was a deeply spiritual person, and that religion was made by man. I’m not criticizing anyone who is religious, but religions are patriarchal and paternalistic, and in many ways they separate us from our own connection within to something greater than ourselves.
I then left the church, explored, became even more deeply spiritual, and then I had a spontaneous mystical experience when I was 21. When I mean spontaneous mystical experience, there were no drugs involved. That really affirmed what I knew, that we are love and we are energy and we are here to be love.
Bryan Wish: Wow. I want to hear about the mystical experience and maybe affirm this belief. But I want to also back up to maybe leaving the church. I have to imagine that could have been extremely hard or a hard transition maybe into the abyss, so to speak, of what’s next. Can you maybe describe that period of your life and that search to maybe find what was right for you?
Maureen Pelton: Yes, it really wasn’t that hard. I think to leave the church and to explore and to find my own way, because I did have this energy, this love guiding me and I really listened internally. I think the part that was hard was for my friends and family, because, they are Catholic, my family. My friends knew me as someone who is deeply involved in the church. In fact, I’m actually named after a friend of my mom who was a mother superior, and my mother actually, when I was in college, had me meet a nun, because she was thinking, I might want to be a nun because I was so spiritual. She didn’t understand. Right.
But I think what happened was, I was 18, I had gone to college, I’d started to get involved in the Catholic church on my campus, and I just had this knowing that this was not… Again, it was patriarchal and paternalistic and there was this hierarchy and I just couldn’t do it anymore. I remember going to my parents and saying, “Why are you Catholic?” They said, oh, because their parents were Catholic. “Well, why were they Catholic?” Well, because their parents were Catholic.
I said, “I’m Catholic because I was born into a system that was Catholic. That doesn’t mean it’s my system or my belief.” That’s really the turning point for me, because I knew we are… I told you, like I said, we are conditioned into belief systems and I thought I’m in this belief system because that what was fed to me. Could I go look myself and see what really resonates for me?
Bryan Wish: What a coming-of-age moment though, right? When you can start to look and then question how you were raised and why you were raised and then challenge, perhaps the people you’ve looked up to your whole life to guide you and say, “I need to form my own opinions and my own thoughts.” Good for you. That’s courageous and brave.
We want to touch on this deeper knowing as well, and we’ll get to this mystical experience, that maybe affirms the journey. You talk about having this deeper knowing, and maybe being able to really tune in to things. How would you describe that to someone who says, “Maureen, how do I do that too? How do I tap in and maybe know myself? What does that take? Or is that just something you think you’re naturally gifted with or a combination of the two?”
Maureen Pelton: That’s a really good question, because I think it’s both. I was born into a family, there’s four children in this family and I’m the only one who challenged, questioned, went into what is actually supposed to be part of our human development in our 20s where we question everything and find our own truth. My siblings did not do that, they’re still repeating programming and patterns that my parents set in place, and culture and religion and everything.
But my dad, he likes to joke and say, my first word was why, and he’s not saying that as a compliment, that is a criticism. Because I questioned everything from the beginning. I didn’t just absorb it all. I didn’t just drink it in, from a very, very young age. I was like, what, why? That doesn’t make sense.
In some ways, I do think I came in really trusting my internal compass. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get conditioned, because I did, and I’ve had to work through all that. But I think it’s a both and. I came in that way and partly too, because of my education, I’m a social scientist, I learned to question and I learned to look more deeply. I really understand human development.
We are missing… I can’t stress this enough, we talk about infant development, we talk about childhood development, we talk about adolescent development and it’s all true, and there’s a lot of research and it’s all great. But I think the most important development we don’t talk about, which is adult development, what we’re supposed to be doing as adults to continue to evolve and become conscious and develop.
Our 20s, my kids are in them right now, our 20s are meant for us to really separate from our family of origin, belief systems and our church and schools and culture, and really look deeply at those things and see if they’re true for us, and some of them may be, but a lot probably isn’t. What is your internal compass… This is our 20, what is our internal compass telling us that’s true for us, and can we trust that?
If we are love, which I do believe we are, if we are love, then we love ourselves enough and we love ourselves unconditionally and deeply to trust and listen and explore and know. In my family, they’re good people, but they were not unconditionally loving. I even had to start to experiment with what is unconditional love. I don’t think there’s a lot of that in our world. There’s so much conditional love.
Bryan Wish: Sure. Absolutely. You’re hitting home. I want to acknowledge what you said about, maybe the 20s, and child development. I’m funny, I’m reading a book right now, it’s called New People Making and it’s on childhood development. We’ve got a lot there. But I read a book a couple of years ago called The Defining Decade on 20s… Anyway, I’m fascinated by development, maybes similar to you.
I resonate a lot with this, maybe period in your 20s to break the chains of your parents and belief systems. My question for you, ironically is, you have two kids, right?
Maureen Pelton: Three.
Bryan Wish: Three, okay. Three kids. How do you, as a parent, maybe raise your kids in this way, when you have your belief patterns and systems that are fairly ingrained, I think in a very beautiful way. But then at the same time, what do you say to kids who maybe… Are you encouraging them to take a similar journey? Agree, not agree? What’s it like as a parent?
Maureen Pelton: Well, I’m so grateful that you asked me this question, because I could talk about this forever. This is such a passion of mine. I have one biological daughter who’s 27, and then I have two step kids who are 26 and 28, almost 29. My step kids came into my life when they were, let’s see, like 11 and 13. I raised my daughter very consciously.
Just to begin with, I didn’t even want kids until I was about 30, and then I realized that I wanted to have a child because I had something to give to the child. I had done so much of my own work, that I could create a space to raise a healthy member of our tribe and really parented in a very different way. That is not how my stepchildren came into the world.
I’ve worked with thousands of people, and so many people have children because they think they should, or their parents want them, or their partner wants them, or they want children to fill a need of their own. A lot of parenting that I see is all about this little object they have and they project onto it, and they think they know what’s best for it. Very much like I was raised.
How I raised my daughter was in this way, I loved her unconditionally, I gave her the tools and resources I could to reach her highest potential, and then I got out of the way. Every day was an unfolding with my daughter. Who are you? What do you want? How do you want to be in the world? Just one example of that was, she’s very athletic because we are in my family system. She was involved in different things, and she came to me when she was young and she said, “I want to do karate. I want a black belt.” I’m like, where the heck is that coming from? What?
However, her biological father is part Chinese. So, I’m thinking, maybe it’s in her genetics. So, I said, “All right, if you want to do this, let’s do it, but you’re going to have to give up… It’s going to take a lot of time, you’re going to have to chew to give up something else.” She gave up gymnastics, which was fine, and she did this.
For six days a week, for several years, I took her to karate and she has a black belt. I thought this is a fad. She’ll go do this. She’ll give it up. I was… But no, she was clear and I supported that. When she chose which high school she wanted to go to, she chose what college, she chose… Every day, I’m blown away. I’m like, “You’re doing what?” I just let her be who she is, and she is a deeply grounded, secure, capable, young woman, who’s doing amazing things in her world. Then I have my step kids who I love and adore, and when they came into my life, I felt like I was in the social science lab because they were deeply conditioned by both their parents.
My husband left his marriage and was doing his own work when I met him and he wanted to be a different parent. He knew he was limited. So, he started showing up differently for them, and we started showing up differently for them, and they started really having to explore what they absorbed. We’ve continued to support them in doing that, and they have evolved now into amazing young humans because they’re given permission to come up against their belief systems and break through them.
My husband has apologized and repaired their relationships and been a different parent. I do think it’s possible to parent differently. I’ll never forget, when my daughter was three, I know John Kabat-Zinn, I don’t know if you know who he is, but he created mindfulness-based stress reduction, MBSR. He’s a leader in the mindfulness field. Him and his wife wrote a book called Mindful Parenting, when my daughter was three.
I went to see them and I sat in their training in San Francisco. It was an all day training for parents. I just cried through the whole thing because I saw two people who actually knew what I did and how I was, as a parent, and they’re older than me, and they parented in that way, and I knew I wasn’t alone anymore because I was very much alone. I didn’t know any parents like me. I don’t know really any today, actually. It’s a very different orientation to parenting, and it’s worth it, because who these young people become is amazing.
I look at my siblings who are, like I said, are in their same pattern, they had children. They’re raising their children and their children are all struggling, really struggling.
Bryan Wish: Wow. I love what you said. If you told me we were going to start this conversation about parenting, I would have said, you’re crazy, but I guess we’re letting it naturally unfold. I love what you said about you weren’t just checking the box of, I’m ready to bring a kid into the world or something that’s fulfilling a need that you had. It’s, that I could create a space, healthy enough to bring someone into the world and then parent them in a way where they could be conscious and aware and let them decide, maybe, what was right.
You broke the cycle of your own family. That’s really powerful. Speaks to me as of late. I’ll come back to mystical experience, one more question, you said your siblings’ kids are struggling and maybe how you’ve raised your step kids with Charlie and your own daughter, maybe you say they’re flourishing. But what would you say the differences, how would you define the struggle that they had? Because I’m sure your kids struggle too, is maybe just a different kind of struggle.
Maureen Pelton: Well, yeah, no, my children are allowed to struggle, and they learned that they were capable. They faced the world with a lot of strengths, but knowing their limitations and really asking for help. My daughter is dyslexic. She went to college and she graduated Magna Cum Laude, but that’s because she went resource center and got support, and knew how to ask her professors for what she needed, and worked hard. But just knew.
Whereas, my nieces and nephews, and this is really painful for me, because I love my siblings and my nieces and nephews, but they one of them has depression, and flunked out of college, and he’s really smart. He was able to finish school, but he flunked out because he just didn’t have the skills and abilities. Lots of kids are depressed in college, but they get through it.
I have another niece who’s got extreme anxiety. They were condition into and projected upon to be something that their parents wanted them to be. When you do that, there’s dissonance and they struggle and they were coddled, and they don’t know how to really show up for themselves. That’s really, really painful for me to watch.
My step kids were in that place when I came into their lives, and they’ve moved through all that. They’ve moved… They’ve done a lot of work. They’ve gotten a lot of support. We’re open to therapy and alternative modality… We’ve provided them lots of resources to get through stuff. My siblings won’t do that for their kids because they don’t understand what’s happening, they just see it as like, oh, something’s wrong with them.
Bryan Wish: Given how aware you are, I bet that’s very painful.
Maureen Pelton: It’s painful. It’s really painful.
Bryan Wish: It sounds like you’re saying too, not to draw cause and effect, but they’re affecting cause by the way they’ve parented and maybe coddled or controlled or maybe had this object, and wanted to shape it versus giving them the tools to shape themselves. They’ve been inhibited by more depression and anxiety because they’re supposed to be something, but maybe they’re meant for something different or more.
Maureen Pelton: Right. Exactly. That’s what I see so much of anyways.
Bryan Wish: Fascinating. Well, appreciate the tangent, and maybe we’ll come to this. Let’s go back to where we started. You broke away from Catholicism, you came into your own self in a way and found your deeply spiritual side in a deeper way. Then you said you had this mystical moment at 21, where you realized unconditional love. Tell me more about that-
Maureen Pelton: What this experience was?
Bryan Wish: Yeah.
Maureen Pelton: I needed to have back surgery. I was born with both a reproductive and a spinal anomaly. So, I needed to have back surgery. Before the surgery, the doctor came in and said, “You may not wake up. You may be paralyzed. You may have an indwelling catheter… ” He was giving me all the things that could happen, which I really appreciated.
Then he left. I was in the hospital room and I was going be awoken at 6:30 in the morning to go into surgery. I was a deeply spiritual person at 21. So, I started to pray. I started to pray. I was setting an in tension and I surrendered. Now, this is really hard for people to understand, unless you’ve had the experience. Intellectually, you can understand, but I literally surrendered to something greater than me and said, I’m okay if I don’t wake up. I’m okay if I’m paralyzed. I am not in charge, I am not in control.
I have choice. I have choice to have the surgery, that is my control. I can choose to have it or not to have it. That’s the only control I have, that’s it, and I’m choosing to have it. I surrendered to whatever is and whatever happens. When I did that, I dissolved into something, nothing, everything. I didn’t know what was happening at the time. Stanislav Grof describes it as a spontaneous mystical experience, but I no longer existed.
It wasn’t that I was in the oneness, I was in something I would call dynamic stillness, unconditional love, something beyond duality and even beyond paradox. I was there and I got a teaching, I got a downloading, I got information about unconditional love and being an energetic being. I can’t describe it all. Then, all of a sudden, I’m back in my hospital bed in pure joy, weeping, ecstatic joy, bliss, love, wow.
Then I went to sleep, and then they woke me up and I was still there. I was still in that place and they’re wheeling me into surgery, and they’re like, “Are you on drugs?” Because I was in ecstatic joy. I said, “No, I’m not on drugs.” They’re like, “Nobody comes into surgery like this.” I’m like, “I do.”
I came out of the surgery in this ecstatic joy and recovered quickly and miraculously better than they thought. Since then, I’ve lived in this ecstatic joy and love and have lots of experiences now. I know how to get myself to that place through meditation and intention. Every time I’m put under, because I had my C-section and at my age, I’ve had a colonoscopy, this is what happens, I come out of it in this place.
Just a couple of years ago when I had my colonoscopy, I came out of it in this ecstatic place, and the nurses didn’t know what to do. Then I was leaving with my husband and I was walking through the waiting room where lots of people were there to get their colonoscopies, and I’m laughing, joyfully, ecstatically, just pure love.
The people in the waiting room are like, “I want what she has. I want what she got.” It stays with me. It comes down some because I have to operate, but it is this knowing that this is not it. I have this physical form, I am having a human experience, I am here to have an impact, but that’s not who I am or what this is about. I am just pure, unconditional, ecstatic joy and love.
Bryan Wish: Wow.
Maureen Pelton: Yeah.
Bryan Wish: To talk about the colonoscopy, I have to get them every few years just because we have a gene. I wish… I’m okay, we’re fine, but I wish I came out of those or went into those with pure joy and happiness. I want what you have too, or maybe I just not had the wisdom to appreciate it. Wow, very interesting on the surrender image of letting go.
I think in this Type A, Western-driven world that is something many struggle with, to maybe have that experience young and be like, wow, do you… Just to question that maybe be an insight, giving your maybe spiritual journey, going into that experience, were you reading things around that time? Were you in conversations with people or it just happened? Then it maybe led you to deeper insights to ask why you were able to experience that?
Maureen Pelton: No, I’d not. Like I said, from 18 to 21, I had been exploring religions. I had some different orientations and I believed in past lives. I had a belief already, that we weren’t just this physical form, but I remember, I always felt that connection to something greater than me. That’s all I had. But coming out of this experience, I was really confused. I was confused before, but I was really confused about what happened.
Instead of going to law school, which I had planned, I went to graduate school so I could start to really study human development, psychology, sociology, all of that. I started exploring all kinds of different things and breathwork, meditation, yoga. I was doing yoga when it was yoga, and not westernized yoga, because it was 38 years ago.
But that is when I really started to explore, because I needed a context for what happened to me. I was involved… For many years, I went to Wisconsin, Richie Davidson is at Wisconsin. He is his holiness, the Dalai Lama’s neuroscientist, studying the brain and compassion and meditation. I’ve been in [inaudible 00:29:34] with his holiness.
I learned that Buddhists spend years meditating and preparing to get to where I got, spontaneously. Stan Groff, I don’t know if you know who he is, but he was one of the leading researchers around psychedelics and then it all got shut down, and then he went to [inaudible 00:30:01] and created holotropic breathwork.
I know you can get to this space through deep meditation for many years, and I know you can get to this space through holotropic breathwork, and I know you can get to this space using psychedelics. I know that, because those things, done right, done well, help you to surrender and get to this place. I just did it spontaneously for whatever reason and can do it just through setting intention and going into that place.
But what it really is, and I tried to teach this, I did, I taught for a long time. It is surrender. It is so difficult for our egos to surrender. It’s really, really difficult to let go. For some reason, I was able to do it. I really thanked the doctor because I think him being so honest with me helped me to do it, but you have to let go of everything. It’s just really hard for the ego to do.
Bryan Wish: Totally. That’s incredibly powerful for you to have that experience. The fact that you said that it takes people many years through meditation, psychedelics, holotropic breathwork, but you got there so quickly is fascinating. You said something earlier about past lives. Have you read the book Many Lives, Many Masters?
Maureen Pelton: Yeah.
Bryan Wish: Well, not shocked here. But I just wonder, you say you came out of it, you say your dad’s first words were asking why. You all almost came in, maybe, with a soul that was maybe a bit more evolved. My train of thought… My question for you is how do you… For those listening, let’s just say those in their 20s or core audience, that’s pretty ambitious, how do you consistently let go? It’s one thing to let go and surrender to circumstance A, but how do you practice that daily throughout your life?
Maureen Pelton: The bottom line is trust, and trusting. Trusting yourself, trusting something greater than yourself. I think the challenge, in my work, in my research and all the work that I’ve done, how I can best loop that back is if you are raised, which very few are, but if you’re raised to really trust what you know, to really trust your experience, then you have that trust, and you’re able to just trust and it gets easier and easier and easier.
However, when we’re trained and we’re conditioned as objects and little people that are a reflection of our parents, we… Our parents, they’re good people, they don’t mean to do this, it’s not malicious that it happened to them, it’s the conditioning. But every time, as a child, you are talked out of your experience or your experience is diminished or you’re not allowed to feel what you feel, you start to disconnect from that trust. You don’t trust yourself.
The work for your 20 somethings, whatever age, the real work is to go inward and trust yourself. Sometimes you’ll be wrong, and I put that in quotation marks, but more than anything, it’s to trust yourself, that’s unconditional love, trust yourself, what you know, what you experience, what you’re being drawn to. Like the karate thing with my daughter, where did that come from? I don’t know, I trusted it. I trusted it, and she learned to trust what she knew.
Bryan Wish: Wow. Powerful.
Maureen Pelton: That piece of trust. I will say one other thing, when I got divorced, I let go of everything, everything except my daughter. I gave up, I let go, I walked away from everything. I’m not saying it wasn’t scary, but I did. It was challenging those initial years when I was a single mom, but I had faith and I trusted and I knew, and I knew that I didn’t want my daughter to be witnessing the type of relationship I had with my ex-husband, who is a good person, he has his limitations, but then what ended up happening is my current husband came into my life and it is sacred union, it is divine. I could never have had this, had I not walked away from my first marriage.
What we have is amazing, it’s mind-blowing. People tell us that, but it’s because I had the faith and the trust and he did too, to let go, and allow something greater to happen.
Bryan Wish: Well, it’s funny… Well, not funny, you bring that up and clearly you can just tell the passion and truth behind your statement. When it was on your website in the summer, I noticed that immediately, just the connection you guys shared. Most people don’t talk about that in the professional sense, and you were out there saying, this is who we are. I admired that in a deep way. Just for the audience’s sake, how did you meet Charlie?
Maureen Pelton: Our kids. All three kids were in a private Montessori school. My daughter was with his son, they do first, second and third grade together. My daughter was with his son one year, and then the next year she went to fourth grade and she was in fourth, fifth and sixth grade with his daughter, and she loved his children and they loved her.
Bryan Wish: Oh, wow.
Maureen Pelton: Coming together… It was a few years later we came together, but coming together, the kids were just amazing and easy. He adopted my daughter and our daughters live together in New York and they have such a strong… The three of them, it was just easy.
Bryan Wish: Wow. So special. Wow.
Maureen Pelton: Yes. Then my husband and I started working together, which, in the beginning, he was the CEO of an ideation company and I was doing my thing, but eventually we started working together. Now, we even work together, which is awesome.
Bryan Wish: Totally. I want to dive into that a bit. I just want to tap on one more question and I would love to share more about your guys’ career, which I think are pretty fascinating as well. You said trusting is unconditional love. Just for the audience’s sake, can you maybe give some definition to that and what you mean by that?
Maureen Pelton: Right. What I mean is trusting yourself is unconditional love. Unconditional love is all in. Even when we make mistakes, even when we hit our limitations, even when it’s messy, and it can get really messy, we love ourselves unconditionally, and we trust. That inner wisdom, that intrinsic wholeness, that intuition that we all have, when we stay connected to that, it is unconditional love, and then we can trust ourselves and then we know who we can trust outside of ourselves.
It’s that commitment to trusting that, to trusting what we deeply know and where we resonate. I’m saying, sometimes it can be messy, but really that commitment to… I would even say, with my siblings and my nieces and nephews, I love them unconditionally and so much that I will not participate in their pathology and patterns, I will set clear boundaries with them around those, because I love them too much to engage in that. Just like with myself, I love myself way too much to lie to myself or be in destructive patterns or play games or manipulate. I just trust what I know.
Bryan Wish: Yeah. No, I really appreciate you clarifying the context on… Love what you said about loving yourself so much that you’re not going to put yourself in harmful situations or you’re not going to broach topics with family members that maybe are going to be destructive for both sides, because they probably will never be able to see what you can see, because they’re not evolved in the way you are.
Well said, and thank you for clarifying. I know we’ve been back around, to some pretty organic. Thanks for riding the rollercoaster with me. I would love for you to share a little bit more about your professional work and your career, which seems so alive and connected to who you are as a person. Just feel free to answer how you’d like. I know you probably do a lot of different things, but whatever calls to you at this moment.
Maureen Pelton: Right. Professionally, I would say, as I am personally, I’m a wanderer. I’ve taught at university, I’ve worked in the healthcare system. I’ve worked in the corporate world. I am a licensed psychotherapist, but I’ve never practiced traditional psychotherapy. I’m trained in a lot of modalities. I’ve done a lot of coaching.
But really where we landed, and my husband’s a Harvard MBA guy who was running an ideation company, and I’m a social scientist, where we landed was like I said, I was involved with this holiness the Dalai Lama and Richie Davidson and The Mind and Life Institute. I landed in this place 10 years ago. I was like, “Wait a minute, we have all this science around compassion and meditation and neuroscience and plasticity, we need to get this out to the masses. There’s like 25, 30 years of science around this.”
My husband was leaving his job because the company had been sold and he’s like, “What do I want to do next?” I got him involved in Mind and Life, and then a couple of wonderful men, Scott (inaudible), Jeff Walker, and Austin Hearst, who are all meditators and a part of Mind and Life approached my husband and said, “Let’s see if there’s anything out there to invest in and bring to the masses around kindness, compassion, spirituality, meditation.”
They found Headspace, 10 years ago. They were the first investors. Since then, we’ve invested in 22 companies and our… How do I say this, our intention is… And we have now 12 partners, I think. We’re a collaborative. My husband’s the managing director, but we invest in companies that are trying to raise consciousness, improve human flourishing, shift the mental wellbeing, mental health space, and really have an impact in the world.
Yes, of course, we want them to be viable companies and have some return on their investment, but really our intention is more to have an impact in the world, and we have. Insight Timer is one of our investment, the Muse Neurofeedback. We’ve gotten involved in PARO Therapeutics, which is a digital therapeutics, happify. All of these companies are bringing a new way of connecting to ourselves, taking care of ourselves, managing our whole person health. They’re all still viable, and they’re all… It’s just exciting, they’re all having major impact in the world, and people are gaining tools and resources to really do what I call adult development well and have their experiences.
We just have a lot of fun. I love working with entrepreneurs. I love the investment team. My husband just left today to go to New York to the Horizons conference on psychedelics. We’re looking at the ecosystem around psychedelics. How do we move this forward with the proper setting and people really benefiting from plant medicines? Not just having journeys or experiences, really, how do we shift? How do we help people so they don’t need the plant medicines? We’ve been involved in that and we’re just looking at trauma and just going deeper, how do we go deeper and how do we invite humanity to do that?
Bryan Wish: I love that. What a conscious way to go about building a career and looking at these portfolio of investments of how do we… They’re successful, right? They’re going to impact masses in their own ability to develop awareness and unfold and go through their own adult development. Maybe another question within it, within maybe the portfolio, or maybe just what you’re seeing in the landscape, if you can pick one or two, what innovation is happening right now and in your space that maybe gives you the most excitement? That’s on one end and the other end, maybe what is not maybe being innovated on that you would love to see maybe problems entrepreneurs would work on for you to invest in?
Maureen Pelton: Okay. I’m going to name two, although I love them all but happify.health Happify Health, happify.com. They’re really creating a new mental health system, a new mental wellbeing system, and they’re partnering with pharmaceutical companies so that you can use meditation and positive psychology and games, actually, to diminish the need for the medication, and to really… There’s something called digital therapeutics, which is what they’re part of, which is using technology to treat conditions, not just medications or instead of medications.
That’s exciting to me. PARO Therapeutics, which is going public this month, that’s all they do is use games to address conditions. That’s exciting to me. I know medication is appropriate at times, but the pharmaceutical world has… We won’t even go there. The other one that I’m really excited about is a company called TRU LUV.
Brie Code is the founder, CEO. They’re out of Canada. She was a leading gamer developer woman who realized that games are developed for fight or flight, which is not attractive to everyone and can actually be harmful. She realized that we could develop games out of tend and befriend and help increase oxytocin, rather than cortisol and adrenaline.
We invested in her, and we just had a meeting with her last week, she’s doing amazing work around bringing these apps and a platform really to be an unconditional love and to be in tend-and-befriend and to move into this Web3 that we’re moving into, where it’s all about community and everyone thriving and… I’m so excited about TRU LUV. Where do we need to go? If you’re an entrepreneur out there, what are we needing?
Well, we are needing, and we are looking for applications, platforms, technologies that help people go deeper, that really invite us to go deeper into deeper levels of consciousness, into deeper connection to self, into deeper connection to others. We also have a company that’s about social wellness, that’s a big field coming up, I see, because so many people have been meditating and changing and evolving, but now they’re really looking for that deeper connection, and how do we have that deeper connection?
That’s a big one, I think. What is collaboration and compassion, and what is that Web3 or metaverse out there that isn’t in the dominant suppression model of the patriarchy, but really in that nurturing, collaborative, evolving, innovative space?
Bryan Wish: Totally. Well, I love your insights. TRU LUV, just real quick, I want to jump to what you said at the end, TRU LUV, do they measure… You said it’s not fight or flight, but maybe is they measure the games and how that impacts the human with biofeedback sensors. I’m just curious to the technical nature of how they design the games.
Maureen Pelton: Well, they’re very early. We’re typically series A investors, but then we find these that we really love that are earlier. They’re earlier. They’re in that process. Their product right now is #SelfCare, and that is a game that they have. I don’t know how many users they have, but they haven’t even marketed it yet. They’re still in the innovation stage, the imagining stage and starting to… That’s all happening.
Bryan Wish: Got it. Very cool. I love what you said too, it’s where things are going in the Metaverse community, Web3 community, it is fascinating, you’re right, and it’s creating this way for everyone to play, if done right, because we’re all learning the limitations, but also things aren’t much different than maybe how people succeeded on Web2. That’s very exciting and also just like your point about people, you want to find the companies that are the people that want to go deeper inward and create innovations around that to drive greater awareness.
I think that’s just a beautiful kind of message. It’s funny, well, I’ll just tell you now, I wrote this piece on presence, the short piece. This guy reached out to me from Claremont Colleges, it’s more liberal arts. He’s like, “I want you to expand on this because I think it would really help entrepreneurs because most don’t think in this way, because they are so type A and they are so trying to control.
I actually think that… Not think, my sense tells me, that just the more you’re getting in front of people with your work [inaudible 00:50:52] you’re going to help just entrepreneurs, but maybe help entrepreneurs think about, as they do the work, think about ideas where they can innovate in the space and realize how valuable this journey is for them. I just want to… Go ahead.
Maureen Pelton: Can I ask, was it Jeremy Hunter that reached out to you?
Bryan Wish: Miles Bird, he’s building a VC fund to invest out of Claremont entrepreneurs, and his partner… Miles is a good friend from chiro days when I ran their community. Then his partner, Josh, we developed a friendship with, and he said, “Hey, I think this would be really interesting.” Happy to make-
Maureen Pelton: But no, because Jeremy Hunter’s at Claremont, he’s part of the director MBA program there and he is deeply passionate-
Bryan Wish: Interesting.
Maureen Pelton: … and he’s a dear friend, but anyways.
Bryan Wish: Okay. Well, you’ll have to ask him if he knows Miles, when you see him.
Maureen Pelton: I will. But I also wanted to add, because I didn’t say this and I think this is an important piece. In our work, our partners, like I said, we’re up to 12 now, they have to be doing their own work. We have turned away partners because they’re not doing their own work. With our entrepreneurs, we assessed the investment. Part of it is, is the entrepreneur, even is the team doing their own inner work? We have not invested in startups, because they’re not doing their own work.
I just want to stress that all of this, the investors, us, the entrepreneurs, we’re all committed to doing our own work, first and foremost, and I think it has to be that way, and it is about presence. But it’s also about we can’t take people where we haven’t been.
Bryan Wish: Right. You can’t give way what you don’t have.
Maureen Pelton: Right.
Bryan Wish: Love it. No, I think it’s powerful, you’re living your values out with how you make decisions externally, not just for-profit and will lead to great long-term outcomes, I’m sure. Maureen, this has been a joy, a treat to do this. Thank you for making the time. If people wanted to reach out, find you, explore your work further, where would you send them?
Maureen Pelton: Good question. I’ve had a blast too, thank you. I really did. This was really fun. Our website is shiftit.com, shiftit.com, and the investor website is with Bridge Builders Collaborative. So, it’s bbcollaborative.com. I’m on LinkedIn, Maureen Pelton, and my husband is too, Charlie Hartwell. Any of those places.
Bryan Wish: Awesome. Well, thank you. Thanks for making time and I’m excited to share this.
Maureen Pelton: Thank you. Thank you, Bryan.