Karen Newell

Karen Newell is the co-founder of Sacred Acoustics and co-author with Dr. Eben Alexander, also a Praxis Circle Contributor, of Living in a Mindful Universe. In Salem, Oregon where she spent much of her youth, Ms. Newell developed a deep appreciation for the natural world. This developed into a lifelong interest in spirituality, ancient culture, sacred sites, and ancient mystery schools. Praxis Circle interviewed Ms. Newell because of her knowledge and mastery of spiritual, meditative, and mindfulness theory and practice.

Early Personal Background

Karen Newell:

Well, yes, I did grow up in Oregon from about age 10 on, but prior to that, my father was in the military and I lived in many places. I was actually born in Arizona, moved to several places around the world with my father, and then he was stationed to Vietnam. And so my mother and my two brothers and I, who were all around the same age and they were very young, she had to kind of make do. And we ended up moving quite a lot, just back and forth as my father was moving his work commitments. But in the end, my parents got divorced. And so that caused us to settle in Oregon. And to me, that was a great relief. My family dynamic had not been very stable to begin with because of my father having all of these Army duties.

And so it was quite a relief to settle finally in Salem, Oregon, and there, you have nothing but the experience of nature all the time. I mean, it rains constantly and people complain about that, but that’s what brings the beauty of nature. And so I grew up really appreciating the world, the natural world, and I was raised a Christian. And one of the things that my mother did was she would send us kids to the beautiful Oregon coast, the beach, for church camp. And while I was at the beach, I learned a lot about religion. And what I learned was for example, the ministers, this was in the ’70s, so these were like kind of hippie ministers, young Methodist type ministers. And they would say to us things like, “Go out into the woods and commune with God.” And so I would go out into the woods and loved the woods and I would wait for God. I expected a cloud or a light beam or a voice or something.

I wanted to have an experience like Moses or something. Nothing like this ever happened. And no one told me how to make that happen. And so I began to think this is nonsense. I don’t believe in this. And so I remember asking a minister once, “I don’t think I believe in God. Is that okay?” And he said to me, “You know, it’s not for everyone. Yeah, it’s quite all right if you don’t believe in God.” And I said, “Well, can I still come to church camp because I loved it so much?” And he said, “Well, of course you can.” So for me, it was more about the fellowship. And I was given permission to, instead of commune with God, to commune with nature. And so I would go out into the woods and commune with the ferns and the trees and the bushes and all that is, and that was able to give me this amazing experience of connection with our material world, but I didn’t call it God, and to me, that was associated with a bunch of religious dogma that I couldn’t really get my arms around.

I’ll tell one more quick story, because this is a pretty important story. When I was seven years old, my grandmother who is, was a fundamentalist evangelical Christian sat me and my brothers down, age seven to say, “Now you need to accept Jesus into your heart so that you can go to heaven and not hell because hell is a terrible place.” And I said, “So that’s all you have to do? Just accept Jesus in your heart.” And she said, “Well, yes, that’s how you get to heaven.” And I said, “Well, what if you don’t hear about this? What about these other kids who don’t have a grandmother explaining this?” And she said, “Well, that’s what we have missionaries for.” And as a seven year old child, this was not a satisfactory answer. And in that moment, I rejected what I later learned was kind of the core doctrine of this fundamental Christianity. And so I went through my life, like I say, when I went to church camp, not really believing in the dogma, but really feeling the connection with other people and with the world at large in the form of nature.

You have a unique worldview. What is it?

Karen Newell:

I did form a unique worldview and it stemmed from really being given that permission as a child to not have to believe in the dogma that my family was kind of putting out there, because many of us grow up with the worldview that our family has. And I was kind of given permission that I didn’t have to believe in that. And so because I didn’t believe in that, I was very curious to know what is true. And so everything I believed really from the beginning had to have happened to me. It had to be my own personal experience in order for me to understand it. And again, it’s because I was given permission from an authority figure at a young age I believe, to say, “No, no, no, you don’t have to. Go find out for yourself. You will find out.” And that’s what I did.

And so I started exploring all kinds of other world views, different spiritual traditions, Eastern, Western alike. I was more drawn to Western kind of esoteric spiritual traditions because I could understand them. I grew up with a Western mind and Eastern spirituality is often posing questions and I wanted answers. And so the Western tradition is to provide answers. And so I came to realize that many of these traditions were giving contradictory points of view and they weren’t agreeing. And so what I was most interested in was finding the areas where they did agree and these are the universal truths.

So there’s very, very few things that I believe from my own personal experience and all the reading that I’ve done, that we can truly know to be true. And all the rest is a belief system, a structure. And what is so amazing is that we can consciously change our belief structure, not our subconscious beliefs, but our conscious beliefs we can decide to change. And so this was very unique because many people, when I first started talking to Eben about this, he was talking about consciousness is all that exists. And I said, “Well, yes, of course consciousness is all that exists. That’s all we can really know to be true,” simply from all the reading that I had done and discerning that. And firsthand experience was incredibly critical.

And so I did embark on quite a path of cultivating personal experience because I didn’t have that beam of light coming to meet me unbidden. I had to go out and sort of make it happen.

How do you think about God today? Love

Karen Newell:

So as a child, I had made the conscious decision to not believe in God because there was no evidence in my mind or in my personal experience that God existed. And the stories just weren’t enough. I didn’t want to just believe them without that personal experience. And so as I went through life and learned how to cultivate experiences from within, I learned that accepting Jesus into your heart, what he really meant by that was… And I didn’t learn this through scripture. I learned it through experience. What I believe he meant by that is that we all are made of love from within. And in our physical bodies, love resides in the heart.

So it’s no wonder my grandmother was suggesting that I accept Jesus into my heart. And so when I found the discovery of my own heart, the power that exists really within each and every heart on the planet. When I discovered that for myself, I realized that’s what the Christian religion is really fundamentally teaching, is that we are all made of love and that love is within. And each of us has a responsibility to cultivate that. And so I learned that it was my personal responsibility to cultivate that love from within, in order to bring that love into the physical world. And this is what I believe is the God Force. And it’s one that connects us all. And it’s one that we can all touch ourselves personally with the proper teaching and ability of that skill.

Dialogue about Consciousness and Music

Doug Monroe:

Well, we, I personally think music is consciousness, emotional consciousness, and that it is … Several things that stuck out to me in y’all’s books are weird stuff like the importance of electricity and the importance of music. There’s something going on there without question. And I don’t know whether it’s communicating between people, communicating with God, communicating across consciousness from different realms.

Karen Newell:

It’s all the same thing.

Doug Monroe:

But there is definitely something going-

Karen Newell:

It’s all the same thing.

Doug Monroe:

It’s all the same thing.

Karen Newell:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Okay. This is a short, this is just a … How important is music and sound to spirituality?

Karen Newell:

It’s hard for me to answer that generally. Can I answer how it was important to me?

Doug Monroe:

Yes, you personally, yes.

Karen Newell:

Instead of spirituality in general.

Doug Monroe:

Or, yes.

Karen Newell:

Okay.

Doug Monroe:

Take the question and go with it where you’d like, because another thing I want you to know, we don’t always have the quest- that que- We listen to your answer-

Karen Newell:

And then rephrase it.

Doug Monroe:

And then provide the question.

Karen Newell:

Perfect. Okay.

Doug Monroe:

Okay.

Karen Newell:

Okay.

How did you find sound helped to go inward?

Karen Newell:

Music and sound turned out to be an incredibly important thing for me personally, when I was learning ways to explore consciousness. What I learned is, if you want to have any telepathic experience or an out of body experience or anything along those lines, meditation is very key. And to me, I avoided the Eastern types of tradition. And to me at the time, meditation was really associated with a Hermetic aesthetic type of existence, where you went into a cave and spent all your time there and didn’t interact in the world. I was of that mindset, that meditation was not so simple to do. Sure enough, when I tried to meditate, all that would happen for me is my mind would just constantly list things I needed to do, conversations I wanted to have, worries, anxieties concerns. I thought, well, this is a waste of time. Again, I’m a Western person. I want things to happen quickly. This is how we’ve been conditioned. I wanted the meditation to come easy, and it didn’t.

I became very frustrated and thought, well, maybe I can fake my way through all of these types of learnings like I did with the Christian religion. But it’s not so simple, because you need to have experience. People around me were having experiences at workshops I went to, but I wasn’t having what I thought was anything substantial. Sound was an incredibly important key. Now, general music does have an ability to put people in altered states, but it’s not as reliable on every person. Certain music, I know now people tell me bands like Sammy Hagar and Phish and some other rock bands put people in to these states. That’s not what was happening for me. It was a certain type of music, brainwave entrainment, that contains binaural beats. Now these sounds, similar to what you might hear if you hit a brass bowl or a crystal bowl or maybe a gong or a tuning fork, anything that has that monotonous wa, wa, wa sound, that kind of sound was able to settle my mind.

I was able to focus better. My mind would go quiet for longer periods, maybe 30 seconds instead of five. Slowly but surely, experimenting with a very vast library of different sounds, I was able to learn how to quiet my mind so I could get in touch with the inner observer. That, we define as the part of you that you’re not normally aware of but is ever present. Sound helped me get there. There’s many other types of sound that can help. There’s chanting, vocalizing that ohm sound or any sound, anything that creates a vibration. We’re fundamentally made of vibration, and sound is vibration we can hear with our physical ear. It’s no wonder those vibrations interacting can help you get in touch more with that part of you that’s nonphysical.

What are the 5 brainwave states? Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, Gamma

Karen Newell:

Well, it turns out the brain is in a different state based on our daily activities. And it’s really interesting that the brain, each of us has a very unique brainwave signature, very similar to fingerprints. They’ve learned in recent years that our brainwaves are so unique from one individual to the next, they could be used to identify us. So, that’s pretty amazing that the brain waves that are going on can be categorized. The first brainwave I would describe as Delta, and this is the state we’re in where we’re in deep sleep and is measured with an EEG device that measures the electric signal coming out of the brain. That’s around zero to four hertz. And then four to seven hertz, that’s the Theta state. This is associated with deep meditative states. Very often you hear about Tibetan monks who are naturally in a theta state because they’ve spent upwards of 10,000 or more hours meditating.

The next state up is around seven to 12 hertz, and this is the Alpha state. Very often, this will pop up when we’re having dreams. But when we’re awake, it might happen when we’re very, very focused on something or maybe in a state where very often, if you commute the same route every single day, you’ll kind of… Maybe two minutes, maybe an hour has passed, but it only feels like two minutes has passed. That maybe is more like an Alpha state where you’re a little more awake, but very focused. 12 to 30 Hertz is the beta state. That’s the walking around space, the analytical, the worry, all of the concerns, and the figuring things out. That’s the state that we really need to function in the material world, but it can really get in our way when we want to get quiet inside and maybe address some anxieties or just get a good night’s sleep. We want to get out of that Beta state.

The Gamma state is 30 hertz plus, and they’ve come up with all kinds of different names to… Now that we can measure these larger brain waves, they’ve come up with different names to identify it, but basically it’s Gamma above 30 hertz. This is the state that people report when they get into an athletic runner’s high or something like that, where very often they’ll be focused in some activity and then just like that, they’ll go into this Gamma state. And again, Tibetan monks can get into that state almost at will. And so all of these different states that we’ve been learning to identify with a EEG, they produce a different feeling inside, and so it can be very useful to understand all of the different states that we go through throughout the day.

How to quiet our mind(s)?

Karen Newell:

Well, the idea of controlling our minds, that word is something that I prefer to avoid. I prefer to say that we can manage our minds. Because our minds kind of do feel like they have a mind of their own, don’t they? And it feels like we’re kind of separate from it when we want to wrangle it up. And I had a lot of trouble without myself and a practice of meditation absolutely will help you to learn that skill. But many of us don’t have the patience that the monks in Tibet have to practice 10,000 hours. We have jobs. We have children to raise.

We have hobbies that we want to be involved with, but there are quicker ways to help quiet the mind. And for me, that was the Sacred Acoustics brainwave entrainment technology. That sort of sound really helped to quiet the mind and what’s happening there is these sounds, these particular sounds are designed to put people into what we call the hypnagogic state. So that’s the state where the physical body is profoundly relaxed, but the mind is still alert and aware. And so when the body gets physically relaxed, somehow this seems to send a little signal to also quiet the thoughts so that we can allow our bodies to get some rest.

But the magic is if you can keep your body profoundly relaxed and your mind slows down, then you can start to manage what’s going on in there. And that’s where identification of the inner observer comes in very handy. Because the more you can pay attention to who is watching the thoughts, who is observing the thoughts and by who, I mean that part of that’s inside that, again, we’re not normally aware of. And so quieting the mind with tools like sound, there’s other tools too. This is the tool that happened to work for me. I encourage people interested in this to learn many techniques to find what is that magic that works for you to quiet the brain.

You only find out by trying. People cannot tell you how to do this. When people instruct you how to meditate, this is when I learned that the Eastern masters really did kind of know what they were talking about because while I, as a Westerner, wanted the answers, those wise Eastern minds knew no, no, no, you must find out for yourself, and that in fact is what I ended up doing.

What are the basics of meditation?

Karen Newell:

The very basics of meditation are really to find something to focus on. And most commonly, teachers will tell you to focus on your breath. And that is because your breath is always there, it will never go away and it’s an inherent part of you. Managing the pace of your can actually also bring physiological and spiritual effects, but the very basics of meditation, you’re not trying to manage anything with your breath, you’re simply observing it. And so doing this just for a few minutes, for someone who’s never done it before is very challenging. It sounds quite simple. So I encourage people to try.

Now those who have already have an experience of meditation, of course know all of this. The basics from there, you can imagine your breath moving out of different parts of your body. It doesn’t always have to be moving out of your nose and your mouth, and this teaches you to move your awareness to somewhere else. You can it to move your awareness further and further away from your body. And so you can see where just plain awareness of your breath sets a very important foundation for a much more involved spiritual exploration. And I know for myself I was very frustrated having to learn those basics because I wanted to get to the stuff, I wanted to have a quiet mind, I wanted to know the meaning and purpose of my existence. But first I had to follow my breath and that is the absolute basic for really, I think, any meditative practice.

How important is the heart?

Karen Newell:

Well, my personal journey for several years involved attending countless workshops and exposing myself to a very wide range of different spiritual teachers. And many of these teachers would talk about the heart. And I was very curious about the heart, and I read a lot of books about the heart. And it’s hard to find really good books about the heart that has the answers to the questions I was looking for. And the closest I could find was HeartMath. HeartMath is an institute in Northern California that scientifically studies the heart. And what they found is that the heart emits an electromagnetic field. And it comes out of the heart, it’s always moving around you in the shape of a force field, all directions, but these lines of electromagnetic energy are constantly moving. And as they, a torus is like a donut with a hole in the middle.

And so as it goes out and comes back in, it’s always centered right here in the heart. Now, I also learned in the context of this, that the brain also has an electromagnetic field, but what was so amazing to me is that the heart’s electromagnetic field is much, much larger. The magnetic part of that field is 3,000 times larger in the heart. And the electric part of that field is 60 times larger. Now another school of thought taught me to think of thoughts as the electric part and emotions as the magnetic part. And so I think of this as a model, a useful model to really learn how to manage my thoughts and my emotions. And so as your electromagnetic field is expanding and contracting around your body, it actually does that based on your emotional state. And so emotions like joy and happiness, you’ll have a very expanded heart field and emotions like sadness, grief, anger, greed, envy, those will be a small or more contracted heart field.

And so what’s really the most fascinating about all of this is that our heart fields affect the people around us. Somehow when that electromagnetic energy is going out in the world, it both collects information and brings it back in and also projects or radiates information. So in my mind, as you’re learning how to feel the energy in your heart, knowledge that it’s actually radiating to people around you is very useful. I took that very seriously because I felt that it was my personal responsibility to only put good positive of things in my heart. I did not want to be responsible for affecting people in non-beneficial ways. This is easier said than done because we’re all human and we have these emotions.

How to manage emotions (the heart)? Gratitude

Karen Newell:

Now, the other thing that the heart taught me was how to manage those emotions. We manage our thoughts by getting quiet inside, by learning to recognize the observer. But those emotions are much more challenging to manage. And in my world, in I believe our Western American culture and maybe elsewhere, what we actually learn to do with our emotion is suppress them. We learn, especially young girls who have a tendency of crying or probably boys even more so, if you’re crying or showing emotion, “No, no, no. Don’t do that. Go to your room if you’re going to do that, or simply stop.” We learn how to suppress our emotions and so it’s no wonder that when I started paying attention to the heart in a meditative fashion, what was the first thing that happened is that I started triggering suppressed emotions that I thought I had dealt with long, long ago, but that wasn’t the case.

Now, the first thing I had to learn to feel in my heart, heart math will tell you that the way to become coherent, the way to get your brain and your heart functioning as a team, is to develop a feeling of gratitude, and a feeling of gratitude is different than a thought of gratitude. And when I first tried to generate a feeling, all I could do was have thoughts. But I knew there was something else that I could actually feel and I wanted to be able to generate it unbidden. And so I spent a lot of time trying to generate feelings of gratitude by thinking of things that made me feel grateful. And it was actually puppies that worked for me, because when I was about six years old, my mother took in a stray dog who proceeded to have puppies underneath my bed. And so she allowed only me to touch the puppies, and this was a magical, beautiful moment.

So any of us can think of a moment from childhood or some joyous moment. Hopefully, each of us has at least one. We have met people who do not have that. And so, for others, something else, but a place in nature, a person, an animal, anything like that, that you can generate feelings of gratitude, that’s the beginning. And then once you start to do that, it’s important to realize that, that gratitude then radiates out into the world.

Heart and Mind Working Together: Gratitude Again

Karen Newell:

Now, another interesting thing for us brain lovers is that the heart actually sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. And that is really hard to get your head around at first, because a lot of us have been taught that the brain is in charge of all the physiological functions in the body and everything. But the heart actually has neurons and it has an ability to send information to the heart. So my thought is that we’re gathering information in an intuitive sense, not with our minds, but with our feelings. That information comes into the heart is sent to the brain and then the brain has to select words to define that feeling. And so that’s where the brain and the heart can really start to work together by being aware, first of all, that each other exists and getting them to really start to work in harmony with each other. And feelings of gratitude are the absolute foundation for doing that.

How can heart awareness help meditation?

Karen Newell:

Becoming aware of the heart in meditation is a very useful thing because it takes your awareness away from your thinking mind to a more feeling state. And so, one of the techniques that I learned was to imagine, while I was watching my breath, was to imagine that my breath was moving in and out of my heart rather than my lungs, and my mouth and nose. By imagining that it’s moving here, it actually allows you to move your awareness away from the thinking brain.

Can emotions settle mind chatter? Inner Observer

Karen Newell:

So when I first started paying attention to the heart and imagining that my breath was moving in and out of my heart, I started to have these unbidden emotions. And what I thought was supposed to happen in meditation is that we were supposed to become quiet and rise above all of these emotions. And this is very often what is taught. And instead, the emotions were really getting in the way of my process. And so what I realized, especially when I would listen to the sounds and additionally, simultaneously imagine that my breath was moving in and out of my heart, I started to have this ability to be in touch with inner observer while these emotions were taking place. And so I could be crying or carrying on about something only in my head and maybe my physical body was actually crying, but the goal was to not assign an explanation for it, because once you start to analyze your emotion, you come out of it and you talk yourself out of it and bam, it’s suppressed again.

And so the tones allow this observer thing to happen, quieting that analytical mind and then the emotions arise. And I quickly learned that this was a beautiful way to release these old traumas. And so when I would go into a meditative state in the beginning and maybe I would, my observer after I practiced recognizing the observer, my observer would note, oh my gosh, I’m feeling a little emotional. Oh, wow. This is going to be a good one. And so then I would just allow it all to happen. And the more emotions I would release over time, kind of like peeling layers of an onion, the more it would get replaced and it get replaced with something wonderful, something that didn’t have anxieties and fears and concerns, but something that was more purely a part of maybe who I was as a child before I learned how to be worried and concerned about things.

And so the more I learned to release these kinds of feelings, and this is what I mean by managing them by consciously triggering them and then allowing them to be expressed and then releasing them all just through a process in my own physical, energetic makeup, things started to shift in my external world. And it was absolutely an amazing process as much as we struggle with trying to fix all the things around us, if we would only take the time to go within and develop that connection to our inner world, the outer world seems to have a way of taking care of itself.

Dialogue: How to turn mind off and be calmly conscious? Practice

Doug Monroe:

I’m going to call that forget turtles all the way down answer. It’s like you got a fish in the water. Right?

Karen Newell:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Well, am I a fish outside looking at the fish in, or am I a fish looking at the fish, looking at the fish, looking at the… Forget it.

Karen Newell:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

You know? And so I just want to clarify, do you focus on the I, the inner I? How do you release that? How do you stop doing what I just said, which is constantly figuring it out? What are you focusing on?

Karen Newell:

The process to get out of that…

Doug Monroe:

You got a great smile there.

Karen Newell:

It was funny. The process to get yourself out of that analytical mind really takes a regular routine and practice of watching the breath and doing all of those fundamental things. That’s the only way to get there.

Can we connect with the other world? Love

Karen Newell:

You know, I’ve met a lot of people who’ve had near death experiences and many of them talk about this amazing love that they touch on the other side. What they say is you can’t bring that love back here. That’s just too powerful for this world. When I met Eben Alexander, he told me the same thing. Oh no, you can’t have that here. I said, well, wait a minute. Yes, you can, because I’ve touched it. I’ve touched what you all have described.

I can’t know for certain because of that neuro scientific term, qualia. I can’t know that my red is the same as your red. I can’t know that my love is the same as those near death experiencers love, but boy, it sure made me feel good and it sure sounds the same. It may not be the huge power that they’re talking about, but not only myself, but many people that I’ve met along the way, teaching these workshops and being out in the world, occasionally we will meet someone who has also touched that love.

For some, it does come unbidden, similar to a near death experience. Maybe during an emotional, addiction hitting bottom moment or an experience of nature during a beautiful expedition out in the world. For me, I cultivated it on purpose and it all started with generating those feelings of gratitude. When you can tap into that magical feeling of gratitude, many people ask me, well, what does it feel like instead of what does it think like? What does it feel like? It’s hard to think of words to describe it.

The words that I’ve come up with are words that describe light. Glowing, shimmering, radiant, sparkly, warm, any word like that. That’s what it feels like. When you touch it, you know it. It can be cultivated by feeling the gratitude, by releasing our emotional traumas, by paying attention to the heart, by cultivating that connection. If you can generate it from within, remember that you then can attract it to yourself. The more that you become the love, the more that you create that love from within, the more that the world brings more love to you.

I know this from personal experience. I would not even begin to start telling people this is how it works because I read it in a book. This I learned through my own personal experience and so if I can do this, every person on the planet can do this.

Can love of self help others?

Karen Newell:

Well, we often talk about the Golden Rule. This is one of those universal truths that I discovered when I was looking through all the different spiritual traditions out there. It very often will talk about the scripture and dogma will talk about, we need to treat others like we would like to be treated. And in Christianity, we should love others like we would like to be loved, like we would feel that love.

And I thought, “Well, I don’t know, how do I love myself?” And I thought, I spent a lot of time thinking about that. And it’s easy to think of qualities that you like about yourself. I’m a good mother. I’m really good at this. I’m a good person. I have integrity. But for me, it was more that feeling of love from within. And when I learned the heart math rule, that whatever is in your heart will affect the people around you, then loving yourself, learning to generate that love from within and really becoming the love that you are, is how I would define love of self. Doing that act of becoming that love and bringing it into your body, actually is loving your neighbor without having to say a word because of how the heart naturally functions. The electromagnetic field affects the people around us, so when we’re generating love from within we’re spreading love into the world and bringing love to all the hearts around us.

Can meditation create problems?

Karen Newell:

There are some, I’ll call them contraindications for meditation, and you can go too far. You can go so far within that you’re not able to function in the world. And what we really want to do is find that balance between understanding that we have this oneness connection with all that is, but we’re also living a life here and now as an individual. And so being able to understand both sides of that is really important. But we don’t want to go too far into that oneness love state because it does make it very challenging. I’ve met people who’ve had what maybe they call a Kundalini awakening or a spiritual awakening of some sort. And they’re literally not able to function because all they can do is feel that love. So there is, I wouldn’t call it a danger, but it would be a caution that you don’t want to take anything really too far, but you want to find that balance.

Should we fear encountering darkness?

Karen Newell:

In all the many traditions I’ve learned of going within, and very often they do provide some warnings that you might encounter something that isn’t so pleasant and wonderful. And the antidote that’s always been taught to me was to develop the feelings of gratitude from within, before you really get started. And in my personal experience, I’ve never encountered anything that I would call dangerous or fearful. Now, I have talked with people who have, and very often in those particular situations, it has been some sort of projection or some sort of internal fear that is represented by some kind of symbolic figure or being. I certainly do not have a wide range of knowledge in this area to be able to comment. But my personal experience is I have not run into that. And those who have, are usually able to figure out it’s an internal projection that they need to kind of reckon with.

Please describe your company, Sacred Acoustics.

Karen Newell:

Sacred acoustics, I co-founded with someone named Kevin Kossi and he is someone I met on my journeys of self-discovery when I had learned that sound could really help play a role in quieting the mind and really getting into that less surface level understanding of who we really are. And in the process of that, I met Kevin Kossi. Now, he was also interested in using sound to explore other realms. And he told me that he wanted to make his own binaural beats, because that’s what we were learning how to use. And I had amassed a huge library of binaural beats and other types of sound used to engender expanded states of awareness. And so together, we embarked on a collaboration. He started looking through all of the different files I had. He’s a mechanical and electrical engineer, but we are both kind of self-taught technical people.

And so we both learned how to analyze the sound and figure out how the particular frequencies were creating these different forms of feelings and sensations in our bodies. And as we did this, we’ve learned how to create kind of a new way, what we thought was a better way of creating these types of sounds. And so for about a year, Kevin and I would create these different sounds. He created the files and then I would retrieve them. He was in New York at the time I was in Baltimore. So we weren’t in the same location. And we would listen at the same time to these sounds. And then we would get on the phone and tell each other about our experiences. And this was a rather amazing year-long journey because we had both completely different ways of experiencing these other realms. And I learned through all the different workshops that I took, that we all experienced them slightly differently.

So, any set rules on how to do it are folly. I mean, it’s good to have some guidelines, but you really need to find out for yourself. And this experience of creating different sounds that gave us these different types of experiences turned into sacred acoustics. When we met Eben Alexander who had written the book, Proof of Heaven, and he was interested in recreating the experience he had during his near death journey while in coma. And so we gave him some of our sounds. He was the first, the third human ever to listen to these sounds besides Kevin and I, and he was blown away. And it was really Eben who encouraged, strongly encouraged, Kevin and I to create a company so that we could make these recordings available to others. And it’s Eben and I who go around the world teaching people how to use them for various reasons. But all to do with getting to know the consciousness that’s deep within that we don’t always have ready access to.

America, Apple Pie, and Baseball

Doug Monroe:

Got it. That’s a good answer. Now, you’re done, except for the fact I usually… And I’m going to ask Eben these last two questions after you do your joint session, but this just brings us back to just good old America, and you’re an American citizen I would bet.

Karen Newell:

And I love apple pie and baseball.

Doug Monroe:

Yes, exactly.

Karen Newell:

I do.

Doug Monroe:

Well, that could be your answer.

How important is the U.S. Constitution?

Doug Monroe:

How important are mundane ideas like nationhood or the constitution to you?

Karen Newell:

The constitution is actually quite important to us because it really speaks to how we live as a society. While we’re all individuals in the pursuit of our happiness, we want to stay out of each other’s way. All the different worldviews that really are allowed to coexist here in America is actually a beautiful, beautiful thing. It is very important for us to have some sort of common rules of living so that we can get along and allow each other have these different points of view without the polarization and the negativity that can often come with that.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S.?

Karen Newell:

The current state of America, I would define as more polarized than ever. And this actually concerns me greatly because the environment that has been created is that we are against each other. And that is not what the founding fathers of the United States intended when they created our beautiful country that allows freedom of all thought. And so for anyone who wants to go to either extreme and demand that all of us agree with them, that’s just antithetical to the American way. And so we need to learn how to find our commonalities, find what makes us all human. And for me, that’s the heart. For me, we all have a heart. We as humans are really, I think it’s an imperative that we all learn how it works and understand that as we are feeling the things that we’re feeling about our fellow Americans, that we understand that we’re really all connected and living this together.

And so I am concerned but also optimistic because I think that we do not need to wait for government to tell us how to fix this problem. In fact, I’m not sure government is going to be able to fix this. What it can rely on though is each of us as individuals. As each of us realizes our place in the world as an absolute important piece of the whole and recognizes that every fellow citizen is also similarly a vital piece of the whole, this kind of philosophy that Eben Alexander and I like to really spread to the entire world, not just Americans, is something that we are hopeful will start to become more common knowledge with people. And so that they really understand there is an alternative to just this empty, bleak, birth to death and nothing more. And you got your house and your yacht, and that’s what makes life wonderful. We really hope that people start to understand that there’s more to this world than the physical and that our internal world is vitally important.

Another way to put this is that speaking of polarities, we have the feminine-masculine polarities, but anyone who understands human nature knows that we can’t exist without both. And the masculine energy, I’m not talking about men and women, but masculine energy is very much similar to the materialist scientific dogma. The idea that only what we can see exists, only the external is real. That’s masculine energy. The sun comes out, that’s masculine energy, and shines the light on everything that we can all see very clearly. But feminine energy is more mysterious and feminine energy has not really been given the equal weight that it really needs for our world to really become what it can be. And feminine energy is represented more by the moon. It’s nighttime. Maybe it’s a new moon and it’s barely visible. Feminine energy is that internal world. That’s a little scary to most of us. I know it was for me because I couldn’t control it. I had to learn to manage it. And I had to learn to accept who I really was as an individual, warts and all, all of it. And it’s scary to do that.

And so feminine energy is not really valued so much. And the internal world, the going within in our American society, also is not very valued currently. And so the more we can bring knowledge of that internal world and really start to pay attention and really balance that feminine-masculine energy, that I believe is the pathway to bringing our world into a more balanced place.

Doug Monroe:

Thank you very much.

Karen Newell:

You’re welcome.

Doug Monroe:

Thank you very much. Boy, could we follow one on that one?

Karen Newell:

Thanks.

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Overview

Karen Newell

Karen Newell is the co-founder of Sacred Acoustics and co-author with Dr. Eben Alexander, also a Praxis Circle Contributor, of Living in a Mindful Universe. In Salem, Oregon where she spent much of her youth, Ms. Newell developed a deep appreciation for the natural world. This developed into a lifelong interest in spirituality, ancient culture, sacred sites, and ancient mystery schools. Praxis Circle interviewed Ms. Newell because of her knowledge and mastery of spiritual, meditative, and mindfulness theory and practice.
Transcript

Early Personal Background

Karen Newell:

Well, yes, I did grow up in Oregon from about age 10 on, but prior to that, my father was in the military and I lived in many places. I was actually born in Arizona, moved to several places around the world with my father, and then he was stationed to Vietnam. And so my mother and my two brothers and I, who were all around the same age and they were very young, she had to kind of make do. And we ended up moving quite a lot, just back and forth as my father was moving his work commitments. But in the end, my parents got divorced. And so that caused us to settle in Oregon. And to me, that was a great relief. My family dynamic had not been very stable to begin with because of my father having all of these Army duties.

And so it was quite a relief to settle finally in Salem, Oregon, and there, you have nothing but the experience of nature all the time. I mean, it rains constantly and people complain about that, but that’s what brings the beauty of nature. And so I grew up really appreciating the world, the natural world, and I was raised a Christian. And one of the things that my mother did was she would send us kids to the beautiful Oregon coast, the beach, for church camp. And while I was at the beach, I learned a lot about religion. And what I learned was for example, the ministers, this was in the ’70s, so these were like kind of hippie ministers, young Methodist type ministers. And they would say to us things like, “Go out into the woods and commune with God.” And so I would go out into the woods and loved the woods and I would wait for God. I expected a cloud or a light beam or a voice or something.

I wanted to have an experience like Moses or something. Nothing like this ever happened. And no one told me how to make that happen. And so I began to think this is nonsense. I don’t believe in this. And so I remember asking a minister once, “I don’t think I believe in God. Is that okay?” And he said to me, “You know, it’s not for everyone. Yeah, it’s quite all right if you don’t believe in God.” And I said, “Well, can I still come to church camp because I loved it so much?” And he said, “Well, of course you can.” So for me, it was more about the fellowship. And I was given permission to, instead of commune with God, to commune with nature. And so I would go out into the woods and commune with the ferns and the trees and the bushes and all that is, and that was able to give me this amazing experience of connection with our material world, but I didn’t call it God, and to me, that was associated with a bunch of religious dogma that I couldn’t really get my arms around.

I’ll tell one more quick story, because this is a pretty important story. When I was seven years old, my grandmother who is, was a fundamentalist evangelical Christian sat me and my brothers down, age seven to say, “Now you need to accept Jesus into your heart so that you can go to heaven and not hell because hell is a terrible place.” And I said, “So that’s all you have to do? Just accept Jesus in your heart.” And she said, “Well, yes, that’s how you get to heaven.” And I said, “Well, what if you don’t hear about this? What about these other kids who don’t have a grandmother explaining this?” And she said, “Well, that’s what we have missionaries for.” And as a seven year old child, this was not a satisfactory answer. And in that moment, I rejected what I later learned was kind of the core doctrine of this fundamental Christianity. And so I went through my life, like I say, when I went to church camp, not really believing in the dogma, but really feeling the connection with other people and with the world at large in the form of nature.

You have a unique worldview. What is it?

Karen Newell:

I did form a unique worldview and it stemmed from really being given that permission as a child to not have to believe in the dogma that my family was kind of putting out there, because many of us grow up with the worldview that our family has. And I was kind of given permission that I didn’t have to believe in that. And so because I didn’t believe in that, I was very curious to know what is true. And so everything I believed really from the beginning had to have happened to me. It had to be my own personal experience in order for me to understand it. And again, it’s because I was given permission from an authority figure at a young age I believe, to say, “No, no, no, you don’t have to. Go find out for yourself. You will find out.” And that’s what I did.

And so I started exploring all kinds of other world views, different spiritual traditions, Eastern, Western alike. I was more drawn to Western kind of esoteric spiritual traditions because I could understand them. I grew up with a Western mind and Eastern spirituality is often posing questions and I wanted answers. And so the Western tradition is to provide answers. And so I came to realize that many of these traditions were giving contradictory points of view and they weren’t agreeing. And so what I was most interested in was finding the areas where they did agree and these are the universal truths.

So there’s very, very few things that I believe from my own personal experience and all the reading that I’ve done, that we can truly know to be true. And all the rest is a belief system, a structure. And what is so amazing is that we can consciously change our belief structure, not our subconscious beliefs, but our conscious beliefs we can decide to change. And so this was very unique because many people, when I first started talking to Eben about this, he was talking about consciousness is all that exists. And I said, “Well, yes, of course consciousness is all that exists. That’s all we can really know to be true,” simply from all the reading that I had done and discerning that. And firsthand experience was incredibly critical.

And so I did embark on quite a path of cultivating personal experience because I didn’t have that beam of light coming to meet me unbidden. I had to go out and sort of make it happen.

How do you think about God today? Love

Karen Newell:

So as a child, I had made the conscious decision to not believe in God because there was no evidence in my mind or in my personal experience that God existed. And the stories just weren’t enough. I didn’t want to just believe them without that personal experience. And so as I went through life and learned how to cultivate experiences from within, I learned that accepting Jesus into your heart, what he really meant by that was… And I didn’t learn this through scripture. I learned it through experience. What I believe he meant by that is that we all are made of love from within. And in our physical bodies, love resides in the heart.

So it’s no wonder my grandmother was suggesting that I accept Jesus into my heart. And so when I found the discovery of my own heart, the power that exists really within each and every heart on the planet. When I discovered that for myself, I realized that’s what the Christian religion is really fundamentally teaching, is that we are all made of love and that love is within. And each of us has a responsibility to cultivate that. And so I learned that it was my personal responsibility to cultivate that love from within, in order to bring that love into the physical world. And this is what I believe is the God Force. And it’s one that connects us all. And it’s one that we can all touch ourselves personally with the proper teaching and ability of that skill.

Dialogue about Consciousness and Music

Doug Monroe:

Well, we, I personally think music is consciousness, emotional consciousness, and that it is … Several things that stuck out to me in y’all’s books are weird stuff like the importance of electricity and the importance of music. There’s something going on there without question. And I don’t know whether it’s communicating between people, communicating with God, communicating across consciousness from different realms.

Karen Newell:

It’s all the same thing.

Doug Monroe:

But there is definitely something going-

Karen Newell:

It’s all the same thing.

Doug Monroe:

It’s all the same thing.

Karen Newell:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Okay. This is a short, this is just a … How important is music and sound to spirituality?

Karen Newell:

It’s hard for me to answer that generally. Can I answer how it was important to me?

Doug Monroe:

Yes, you personally, yes.

Karen Newell:

Instead of spirituality in general.

Doug Monroe:

Or, yes.

Karen Newell:

Okay.

Doug Monroe:

Take the question and go with it where you’d like, because another thing I want you to know, we don’t always have the quest- that que- We listen to your answer-

Karen Newell:

And then rephrase it.

Doug Monroe:

And then provide the question.

Karen Newell:

Perfect. Okay.

Doug Monroe:

Okay.

Karen Newell:

Okay.

How did you find sound helped to go inward?

Karen Newell:

Music and sound turned out to be an incredibly important thing for me personally, when I was learning ways to explore consciousness. What I learned is, if you want to have any telepathic experience or an out of body experience or anything along those lines, meditation is very key. And to me, I avoided the Eastern types of tradition. And to me at the time, meditation was really associated with a Hermetic aesthetic type of existence, where you went into a cave and spent all your time there and didn’t interact in the world. I was of that mindset, that meditation was not so simple to do. Sure enough, when I tried to meditate, all that would happen for me is my mind would just constantly list things I needed to do, conversations I wanted to have, worries, anxieties concerns. I thought, well, this is a waste of time. Again, I’m a Western person. I want things to happen quickly. This is how we’ve been conditioned. I wanted the meditation to come easy, and it didn’t.

I became very frustrated and thought, well, maybe I can fake my way through all of these types of learnings like I did with the Christian religion. But it’s not so simple, because you need to have experience. People around me were having experiences at workshops I went to, but I wasn’t having what I thought was anything substantial. Sound was an incredibly important key. Now, general music does have an ability to put people in altered states, but it’s not as reliable on every person. Certain music, I know now people tell me bands like Sammy Hagar and Phish and some other rock bands put people in to these states. That’s not what was happening for me. It was a certain type of music, brainwave entrainment, that contains binaural beats. Now these sounds, similar to what you might hear if you hit a brass bowl or a crystal bowl or maybe a gong or a tuning fork, anything that has that monotonous wa, wa, wa sound, that kind of sound was able to settle my mind.

I was able to focus better. My mind would go quiet for longer periods, maybe 30 seconds instead of five. Slowly but surely, experimenting with a very vast library of different sounds, I was able to learn how to quiet my mind so I could get in touch with the inner observer. That, we define as the part of you that you’re not normally aware of but is ever present. Sound helped me get there. There’s many other types of sound that can help. There’s chanting, vocalizing that ohm sound or any sound, anything that creates a vibration. We’re fundamentally made of vibration, and sound is vibration we can hear with our physical ear. It’s no wonder those vibrations interacting can help you get in touch more with that part of you that’s nonphysical.

What are the 5 brainwave states? Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, Gamma

Karen Newell:

Well, it turns out the brain is in a different state based on our daily activities. And it’s really interesting that the brain, each of us has a very unique brainwave signature, very similar to fingerprints. They’ve learned in recent years that our brainwaves are so unique from one individual to the next, they could be used to identify us. So, that’s pretty amazing that the brain waves that are going on can be categorized. The first brainwave I would describe as Delta, and this is the state we’re in where we’re in deep sleep and is measured with an EEG device that measures the electric signal coming out of the brain. That’s around zero to four hertz. And then four to seven hertz, that’s the Theta state. This is associated with deep meditative states. Very often you hear about Tibetan monks who are naturally in a theta state because they’ve spent upwards of 10,000 or more hours meditating.

The next state up is around seven to 12 hertz, and this is the Alpha state. Very often, this will pop up when we’re having dreams. But when we’re awake, it might happen when we’re very, very focused on something or maybe in a state where very often, if you commute the same route every single day, you’ll kind of… Maybe two minutes, maybe an hour has passed, but it only feels like two minutes has passed. That maybe is more like an Alpha state where you’re a little more awake, but very focused. 12 to 30 Hertz is the beta state. That’s the walking around space, the analytical, the worry, all of the concerns, and the figuring things out. That’s the state that we really need to function in the material world, but it can really get in our way when we want to get quiet inside and maybe address some anxieties or just get a good night’s sleep. We want to get out of that Beta state.

The Gamma state is 30 hertz plus, and they’ve come up with all kinds of different names to… Now that we can measure these larger brain waves, they’ve come up with different names to identify it, but basically it’s Gamma above 30 hertz. This is the state that people report when they get into an athletic runner’s high or something like that, where very often they’ll be focused in some activity and then just like that, they’ll go into this Gamma state. And again, Tibetan monks can get into that state almost at will. And so all of these different states that we’ve been learning to identify with a EEG, they produce a different feeling inside, and so it can be very useful to understand all of the different states that we go through throughout the day.

How to quiet our mind(s)?

Karen Newell:

Well, the idea of controlling our minds, that word is something that I prefer to avoid. I prefer to say that we can manage our minds. Because our minds kind of do feel like they have a mind of their own, don’t they? And it feels like we’re kind of separate from it when we want to wrangle it up. And I had a lot of trouble without myself and a practice of meditation absolutely will help you to learn that skill. But many of us don’t have the patience that the monks in Tibet have to practice 10,000 hours. We have jobs. We have children to raise.

We have hobbies that we want to be involved with, but there are quicker ways to help quiet the mind. And for me, that was the Sacred Acoustics brainwave entrainment technology. That sort of sound really helped to quiet the mind and what’s happening there is these sounds, these particular sounds are designed to put people into what we call the hypnagogic state. So that’s the state where the physical body is profoundly relaxed, but the mind is still alert and aware. And so when the body gets physically relaxed, somehow this seems to send a little signal to also quiet the thoughts so that we can allow our bodies to get some rest.

But the magic is if you can keep your body profoundly relaxed and your mind slows down, then you can start to manage what’s going on in there. And that’s where identification of the inner observer comes in very handy. Because the more you can pay attention to who is watching the thoughts, who is observing the thoughts and by who, I mean that part of that’s inside that, again, we’re not normally aware of. And so quieting the mind with tools like sound, there’s other tools too. This is the tool that happened to work for me. I encourage people interested in this to learn many techniques to find what is that magic that works for you to quiet the brain.

You only find out by trying. People cannot tell you how to do this. When people instruct you how to meditate, this is when I learned that the Eastern masters really did kind of know what they were talking about because while I, as a Westerner, wanted the answers, those wise Eastern minds knew no, no, no, you must find out for yourself, and that in fact is what I ended up doing.

What are the basics of meditation?

Karen Newell:

The very basics of meditation are really to find something to focus on. And most commonly, teachers will tell you to focus on your breath. And that is because your breath is always there, it will never go away and it’s an inherent part of you. Managing the pace of your can actually also bring physiological and spiritual effects, but the very basics of meditation, you’re not trying to manage anything with your breath, you’re simply observing it. And so doing this just for a few minutes, for someone who’s never done it before is very challenging. It sounds quite simple. So I encourage people to try.

Now those who have already have an experience of meditation, of course know all of this. The basics from there, you can imagine your breath moving out of different parts of your body. It doesn’t always have to be moving out of your nose and your mouth, and this teaches you to move your awareness to somewhere else. You can it to move your awareness further and further away from your body. And so you can see where just plain awareness of your breath sets a very important foundation for a much more involved spiritual exploration. And I know for myself I was very frustrated having to learn those basics because I wanted to get to the stuff, I wanted to have a quiet mind, I wanted to know the meaning and purpose of my existence. But first I had to follow my breath and that is the absolute basic for really, I think, any meditative practice.

How important is the heart?

Karen Newell:

Well, my personal journey for several years involved attending countless workshops and exposing myself to a very wide range of different spiritual teachers. And many of these teachers would talk about the heart. And I was very curious about the heart, and I read a lot of books about the heart. And it’s hard to find really good books about the heart that has the answers to the questions I was looking for. And the closest I could find was HeartMath. HeartMath is an institute in Northern California that scientifically studies the heart. And what they found is that the heart emits an electromagnetic field. And it comes out of the heart, it’s always moving around you in the shape of a force field, all directions, but these lines of electromagnetic energy are constantly moving. And as they, a torus is like a donut with a hole in the middle.

And so as it goes out and comes back in, it’s always centered right here in the heart. Now, I also learned in the context of this, that the brain also has an electromagnetic field, but what was so amazing to me is that the heart’s electromagnetic field is much, much larger. The magnetic part of that field is 3,000 times larger in the heart. And the electric part of that field is 60 times larger. Now another school of thought taught me to think of thoughts as the electric part and emotions as the magnetic part. And so I think of this as a model, a useful model to really learn how to manage my thoughts and my emotions. And so as your electromagnetic field is expanding and contracting around your body, it actually does that based on your emotional state. And so emotions like joy and happiness, you’ll have a very expanded heart field and emotions like sadness, grief, anger, greed, envy, those will be a small or more contracted heart field.

And so what’s really the most fascinating about all of this is that our heart fields affect the people around us. Somehow when that electromagnetic energy is going out in the world, it both collects information and brings it back in and also projects or radiates information. So in my mind, as you’re learning how to feel the energy in your heart, knowledge that it’s actually radiating to people around you is very useful. I took that very seriously because I felt that it was my personal responsibility to only put good positive of things in my heart. I did not want to be responsible for affecting people in non-beneficial ways. This is easier said than done because we’re all human and we have these emotions.

How to manage emotions (the heart)? Gratitude

Karen Newell:

Now, the other thing that the heart taught me was how to manage those emotions. We manage our thoughts by getting quiet inside, by learning to recognize the observer. But those emotions are much more challenging to manage. And in my world, in I believe our Western American culture and maybe elsewhere, what we actually learn to do with our emotion is suppress them. We learn, especially young girls who have a tendency of crying or probably boys even more so, if you’re crying or showing emotion, “No, no, no. Don’t do that. Go to your room if you’re going to do that, or simply stop.” We learn how to suppress our emotions and so it’s no wonder that when I started paying attention to the heart in a meditative fashion, what was the first thing that happened is that I started triggering suppressed emotions that I thought I had dealt with long, long ago, but that wasn’t the case.

Now, the first thing I had to learn to feel in my heart, heart math will tell you that the way to become coherent, the way to get your brain and your heart functioning as a team, is to develop a feeling of gratitude, and a feeling of gratitude is different than a thought of gratitude. And when I first tried to generate a feeling, all I could do was have thoughts. But I knew there was something else that I could actually feel and I wanted to be able to generate it unbidden. And so I spent a lot of time trying to generate feelings of gratitude by thinking of things that made me feel grateful. And it was actually puppies that worked for me, because when I was about six years old, my mother took in a stray dog who proceeded to have puppies underneath my bed. And so she allowed only me to touch the puppies, and this was a magical, beautiful moment.

So any of us can think of a moment from childhood or some joyous moment. Hopefully, each of us has at least one. We have met people who do not have that. And so, for others, something else, but a place in nature, a person, an animal, anything like that, that you can generate feelings of gratitude, that’s the beginning. And then once you start to do that, it’s important to realize that, that gratitude then radiates out into the world.

Heart and Mind Working Together: Gratitude Again

Karen Newell:

Now, another interesting thing for us brain lovers is that the heart actually sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. And that is really hard to get your head around at first, because a lot of us have been taught that the brain is in charge of all the physiological functions in the body and everything. But the heart actually has neurons and it has an ability to send information to the heart. So my thought is that we’re gathering information in an intuitive sense, not with our minds, but with our feelings. That information comes into the heart is sent to the brain and then the brain has to select words to define that feeling. And so that’s where the brain and the heart can really start to work together by being aware, first of all, that each other exists and getting them to really start to work in harmony with each other. And feelings of gratitude are the absolute foundation for doing that.

How can heart awareness help meditation?

Karen Newell:

Becoming aware of the heart in meditation is a very useful thing because it takes your awareness away from your thinking mind to a more feeling state. And so, one of the techniques that I learned was to imagine, while I was watching my breath, was to imagine that my breath was moving in and out of my heart rather than my lungs, and my mouth and nose. By imagining that it’s moving here, it actually allows you to move your awareness away from the thinking brain.

Can emotions settle mind chatter? Inner Observer

Karen Newell:

So when I first started paying attention to the heart and imagining that my breath was moving in and out of my heart, I started to have these unbidden emotions. And what I thought was supposed to happen in meditation is that we were supposed to become quiet and rise above all of these emotions. And this is very often what is taught. And instead, the emotions were really getting in the way of my process. And so what I realized, especially when I would listen to the sounds and additionally, simultaneously imagine that my breath was moving in and out of my heart, I started to have this ability to be in touch with inner observer while these emotions were taking place. And so I could be crying or carrying on about something only in my head and maybe my physical body was actually crying, but the goal was to not assign an explanation for it, because once you start to analyze your emotion, you come out of it and you talk yourself out of it and bam, it’s suppressed again.

And so the tones allow this observer thing to happen, quieting that analytical mind and then the emotions arise. And I quickly learned that this was a beautiful way to release these old traumas. And so when I would go into a meditative state in the beginning and maybe I would, my observer after I practiced recognizing the observer, my observer would note, oh my gosh, I’m feeling a little emotional. Oh, wow. This is going to be a good one. And so then I would just allow it all to happen. And the more emotions I would release over time, kind of like peeling layers of an onion, the more it would get replaced and it get replaced with something wonderful, something that didn’t have anxieties and fears and concerns, but something that was more purely a part of maybe who I was as a child before I learned how to be worried and concerned about things.

And so the more I learned to release these kinds of feelings, and this is what I mean by managing them by consciously triggering them and then allowing them to be expressed and then releasing them all just through a process in my own physical, energetic makeup, things started to shift in my external world. And it was absolutely an amazing process as much as we struggle with trying to fix all the things around us, if we would only take the time to go within and develop that connection to our inner world, the outer world seems to have a way of taking care of itself.

Dialogue: How to turn mind off and be calmly conscious? Practice

Doug Monroe:

I’m going to call that forget turtles all the way down answer. It’s like you got a fish in the water. Right?

Karen Newell:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

Well, am I a fish outside looking at the fish in, or am I a fish looking at the fish, looking at the fish, looking at the… Forget it.

Karen Newell:

Yeah.

Doug Monroe:

You know? And so I just want to clarify, do you focus on the I, the inner I? How do you release that? How do you stop doing what I just said, which is constantly figuring it out? What are you focusing on?

Karen Newell:

The process to get out of that…

Doug Monroe:

You got a great smile there.

Karen Newell:

It was funny. The process to get yourself out of that analytical mind really takes a regular routine and practice of watching the breath and doing all of those fundamental things. That’s the only way to get there.

Can we connect with the other world? Love

Karen Newell:

You know, I’ve met a lot of people who’ve had near death experiences and many of them talk about this amazing love that they touch on the other side. What they say is you can’t bring that love back here. That’s just too powerful for this world. When I met Eben Alexander, he told me the same thing. Oh no, you can’t have that here. I said, well, wait a minute. Yes, you can, because I’ve touched it. I’ve touched what you all have described.

I can’t know for certain because of that neuro scientific term, qualia. I can’t know that my red is the same as your red. I can’t know that my love is the same as those near death experiencers love, but boy, it sure made me feel good and it sure sounds the same. It may not be the huge power that they’re talking about, but not only myself, but many people that I’ve met along the way, teaching these workshops and being out in the world, occasionally we will meet someone who has also touched that love.

For some, it does come unbidden, similar to a near death experience. Maybe during an emotional, addiction hitting bottom moment or an experience of nature during a beautiful expedition out in the world. For me, I cultivated it on purpose and it all started with generating those feelings of gratitude. When you can tap into that magical feeling of gratitude, many people ask me, well, what does it feel like instead of what does it think like? What does it feel like? It’s hard to think of words to describe it.

The words that I’ve come up with are words that describe light. Glowing, shimmering, radiant, sparkly, warm, any word like that. That’s what it feels like. When you touch it, you know it. It can be cultivated by feeling the gratitude, by releasing our emotional traumas, by paying attention to the heart, by cultivating that connection. If you can generate it from within, remember that you then can attract it to yourself. The more that you become the love, the more that you create that love from within, the more that the world brings more love to you.

I know this from personal experience. I would not even begin to start telling people this is how it works because I read it in a book. This I learned through my own personal experience and so if I can do this, every person on the planet can do this.

Can love of self help others?

Karen Newell:

Well, we often talk about the Golden Rule. This is one of those universal truths that I discovered when I was looking through all the different spiritual traditions out there. It very often will talk about the scripture and dogma will talk about, we need to treat others like we would like to be treated. And in Christianity, we should love others like we would like to be loved, like we would feel that love.

And I thought, “Well, I don’t know, how do I love myself?” And I thought, I spent a lot of time thinking about that. And it’s easy to think of qualities that you like about yourself. I’m a good mother. I’m really good at this. I’m a good person. I have integrity. But for me, it was more that feeling of love from within. And when I learned the heart math rule, that whatever is in your heart will affect the people around you, then loving yourself, learning to generate that love from within and really becoming the love that you are, is how I would define love of self. Doing that act of becoming that love and bringing it into your body, actually is loving your neighbor without having to say a word because of how the heart naturally functions. The electromagnetic field affects the people around us, so when we’re generating love from within we’re spreading love into the world and bringing love to all the hearts around us.

Can meditation create problems?

Karen Newell:

There are some, I’ll call them contraindications for meditation, and you can go too far. You can go so far within that you’re not able to function in the world. And what we really want to do is find that balance between understanding that we have this oneness connection with all that is, but we’re also living a life here and now as an individual. And so being able to understand both sides of that is really important. But we don’t want to go too far into that oneness love state because it does make it very challenging. I’ve met people who’ve had what maybe they call a Kundalini awakening or a spiritual awakening of some sort. And they’re literally not able to function because all they can do is feel that love. So there is, I wouldn’t call it a danger, but it would be a caution that you don’t want to take anything really too far, but you want to find that balance.

Should we fear encountering darkness?

Karen Newell:

In all the many traditions I’ve learned of going within, and very often they do provide some warnings that you might encounter something that isn’t so pleasant and wonderful. And the antidote that’s always been taught to me was to develop the feelings of gratitude from within, before you really get started. And in my personal experience, I’ve never encountered anything that I would call dangerous or fearful. Now, I have talked with people who have, and very often in those particular situations, it has been some sort of projection or some sort of internal fear that is represented by some kind of symbolic figure or being. I certainly do not have a wide range of knowledge in this area to be able to comment. But my personal experience is I have not run into that. And those who have, are usually able to figure out it’s an internal projection that they need to kind of reckon with.

Please describe your company, Sacred Acoustics.

Karen Newell:

Sacred acoustics, I co-founded with someone named Kevin Kossi and he is someone I met on my journeys of self-discovery when I had learned that sound could really help play a role in quieting the mind and really getting into that less surface level understanding of who we really are. And in the process of that, I met Kevin Kossi. Now, he was also interested in using sound to explore other realms. And he told me that he wanted to make his own binaural beats, because that’s what we were learning how to use. And I had amassed a huge library of binaural beats and other types of sound used to engender expanded states of awareness. And so together, we embarked on a collaboration. He started looking through all of the different files I had. He’s a mechanical and electrical engineer, but we are both kind of self-taught technical people.

And so we both learned how to analyze the sound and figure out how the particular frequencies were creating these different forms of feelings and sensations in our bodies. And as we did this, we’ve learned how to create kind of a new way, what we thought was a better way of creating these types of sounds. And so for about a year, Kevin and I would create these different sounds. He created the files and then I would retrieve them. He was in New York at the time I was in Baltimore. So we weren’t in the same location. And we would listen at the same time to these sounds. And then we would get on the phone and tell each other about our experiences. And this was a rather amazing year-long journey because we had both completely different ways of experiencing these other realms. And I learned through all the different workshops that I took, that we all experienced them slightly differently.

So, any set rules on how to do it are folly. I mean, it’s good to have some guidelines, but you really need to find out for yourself. And this experience of creating different sounds that gave us these different types of experiences turned into sacred acoustics. When we met Eben Alexander who had written the book, Proof of Heaven, and he was interested in recreating the experience he had during his near death journey while in coma. And so we gave him some of our sounds. He was the first, the third human ever to listen to these sounds besides Kevin and I, and he was blown away. And it was really Eben who encouraged, strongly encouraged, Kevin and I to create a company so that we could make these recordings available to others. And it’s Eben and I who go around the world teaching people how to use them for various reasons. But all to do with getting to know the consciousness that’s deep within that we don’t always have ready access to.

America, Apple Pie, and Baseball

Doug Monroe:

Got it. That’s a good answer. Now, you’re done, except for the fact I usually… And I’m going to ask Eben these last two questions after you do your joint session, but this just brings us back to just good old America, and you’re an American citizen I would bet.

Karen Newell:

And I love apple pie and baseball.

Doug Monroe:

Yes, exactly.

Karen Newell:

I do.

Doug Monroe:

Well, that could be your answer.

How important is the U.S. Constitution?

Doug Monroe:

How important are mundane ideas like nationhood or the constitution to you?

Karen Newell:

The constitution is actually quite important to us because it really speaks to how we live as a society. While we’re all individuals in the pursuit of our happiness, we want to stay out of each other’s way. All the different worldviews that really are allowed to coexist here in America is actually a beautiful, beautiful thing. It is very important for us to have some sort of common rules of living so that we can get along and allow each other have these different points of view without the polarization and the negativity that can often come with that.

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S.?

Karen Newell:

The current state of America, I would define as more polarized than ever. And this actually concerns me greatly because the environment that has been created is that we are against each other. And that is not what the founding fathers of the United States intended when they created our beautiful country that allows freedom of all thought. And so for anyone who wants to go to either extreme and demand that all of us agree with them, that’s just antithetical to the American way. And so we need to learn how to find our commonalities, find what makes us all human. And for me, that’s the heart. For me, we all have a heart. We as humans are really, I think it’s an imperative that we all learn how it works and understand that as we are feeling the things that we’re feeling about our fellow Americans, that we understand that we’re really all connected and living this together.

And so I am concerned but also optimistic because I think that we do not need to wait for government to tell us how to fix this problem. In fact, I’m not sure government is going to be able to fix this. What it can rely on though is each of us as individuals. As each of us realizes our place in the world as an absolute important piece of the whole and recognizes that every fellow citizen is also similarly a vital piece of the whole, this kind of philosophy that Eben Alexander and I like to really spread to the entire world, not just Americans, is something that we are hopeful will start to become more common knowledge with people. And so that they really understand there is an alternative to just this empty, bleak, birth to death and nothing more. And you got your house and your yacht, and that’s what makes life wonderful. We really hope that people start to understand that there’s more to this world than the physical and that our internal world is vitally important.

Another way to put this is that speaking of polarities, we have the feminine-masculine polarities, but anyone who understands human nature knows that we can’t exist without both. And the masculine energy, I’m not talking about men and women, but masculine energy is very much similar to the materialist scientific dogma. The idea that only what we can see exists, only the external is real. That’s masculine energy. The sun comes out, that’s masculine energy, and shines the light on everything that we can all see very clearly. But feminine energy is more mysterious and feminine energy has not really been given the equal weight that it really needs for our world to really become what it can be. And feminine energy is represented more by the moon. It’s nighttime. Maybe it’s a new moon and it’s barely visible. Feminine energy is that internal world. That’s a little scary to most of us. I know it was for me because I couldn’t control it. I had to learn to manage it. And I had to learn to accept who I really was as an individual, warts and all, all of it. And it’s scary to do that.

And so feminine energy is not really valued so much. And the internal world, the going within in our American society, also is not very valued currently. And so the more we can bring knowledge of that internal world and really start to pay attention and really balance that feminine-masculine energy, that I believe is the pathway to bringing our world into a more balanced place.

Doug Monroe:

Thank you very much.

Karen Newell:

You’re welcome.

Doug Monroe:

Thank you very much. Boy, could we follow one on that one?

Karen Newell:

Thanks.

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