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Navigating Difficult Times with Breathwork (Karen Maloney) Transcript

Consciousness Explored – Episode 8

Navigating Difficult Times with Breathwork (Karen Maloney)

Karen Maloney: During pandemic, I joined my first breathwork session. I had no idea what to expect. And afterwards, it was just like every cell of my body was like, Oh my God, what the hell is that? I need to learn more. Oh,

Melissa Deal: Hello and welcome to Consciousness Explored. I’m your host, Melissa Deal. In this podcast, we explore the expansion of consciousness, how it shapes our behavior and transforms our lives. On today’s episode, I’ll be talking with Karen Maloney, otherwise known as the INSIDE OUT Coach.

Karen is a breathwork and mindset coach who works with people to awaken their inner power. She’s trained in modalities like somatic breathwork and Reiki, and she’s also the host of the Curiosity and Consciousness Podcast. We’ll be talking about Karen’s inspiring story and the magic that unfolds when we dare to transform ourselves from the inside out. Also, be sure you stay till the end of the episode. Karen will be gifting us with a sample of one of her consciousness expanding breathwork practices. I’m super excited for that. We’ll be right back with Karen’s story.

Karen: I was definitely the black sheep of the family, I still am. And looking back, really, on my journey now, I can say that I’ve been on a lifelong awakening from a very young age, but I didn’t know that. I suffered a childhood trauma at a young age and that kind of set me very introspective as well. And growing up and getting older, I was very shy, very quiet and books were kind of my savior. I loved the library. I loved reading autobiographies that I learnt something from, like personal development, spiritual, esoteric type books.

I grew up in Ireland, the west of Ireland, a small town, and Ireland was very Catholic back then. The church controlled everything; schools, government, everything. My family wasn’t particularly religious per se, but we had to go to mass every Sunday. Like, there was no out, there was no question about it. It was just something we did.

As I got older, I questioned that. Like, why do I have to do this? It sounds weird. It doesn’t sound like it’s for me. There was no spirituality per se. But my granddad, who, on my dad’s side, was a butcher. But he was also the seventh son of a seventh son. Which, in Ireland, one, is extremely rare, but two, they say that a seventh son of a seventh son has healing powers.

So my granddad could cure ringworm. And people from all over Ireland used to come to him, and he’d kind of just make the sign of the Holy Cross and, like, bless it. But again, it wasn’t a big thing. Like, it wasn’t like, oh, he’s gifted, he’s this healer. This is very spiritual. It was very, he’s a butcher, but he just has this special gift. You know, it’s just what happens when you’re a seventh son of a seventh son.

The questioning for me, especially around religion, came in, going to mass and education and school. When I was coming towards the end of my secondary school, which is before university in Ireland, and we do final exams and it’s based on a point system to see what career you can or can’t study in university. And I remember thinking, like I was just bamboozled, like, how?

How can what I write on a piece of paper at a certain time, at a certain day, that some random person is going to correct, that doesn’t know the first thing about me, that may be having a good or a bad day, and according to societies or education standards of what’s a good answer, what’s a mediocre, what’s a bad answer, and all these exams joined together and they create this point system. And then this point system can determine what I, the human, can and can’t do with my life. I was like, this just makes no sense. Like it literally makes no sense to me.

So thankfully, my mother has trusted me to always trust myself. She is incredible. And even though she hasn’t always agreed and she didn’t really understand, she never pushed anything. She trusted me to trust my own intuition and make my own decisions, even from a very young age. So I was like, look, I’m going to do it. I’ll do these exams, but I’m not going to sweat about them. I’m not going to waste my life and spend the whole year studying really hard.

I crammed for two weeks solid before the exams and I did really well in them. And I’d said to mom as well; my mother used to work in the bank; and I was like, I’ll do my exams. If for some reason I absolutely fail every single subject, there is no way in the world I’m repeating. I’ll get a job in the bank and I’ll work my way to the top. I was like, that’s my fallback plan and I’m okay with this.

When I started questioning religion and mass, I was like, mom, please don’t wake me for mass anymore. And she was like, why? I was like, when I’m there, I’m not there. Like, I’m so bored. I can’t wait to get out of there. I’m looking around me and I’m not listening. When I did decide to listen, I was like, sounds really weird. I was like, it kind of sounds like a cult to me. So I was like, I don’t want in.

She accepted and allowed me to make that decision. And ultimately, what I have found, which I could never have imagined at the time is something way more profound and true and connected for me than I ever found in the church. And again, I can only share my personal story. I’m not here with the absolute truth for anyone. This is just my personal truth.

I don’t believe now that God is up there judging me and looking at me and keeping track of what I’m doing right or wrong. And I couldn’t use the word God actually for a good few years because it would bring up fear and anger in me, whereas now I love the word. It’s like interchangeable. I use it as source, oneness, infinite energy, the energy that is all of us, pure consciousness, and that pure potentiality to create and to create life, and the consciousness that is moving through me that has given me life.

Melissa: Karen stopped attending mass but she continued reading and learning about spirituality, personal development, and other belief systems. While she wasn’t incorporating much of it into her life at that time, one modality of energy work caught her attention. She was drawn to diving deeper into an energy healing technique called Reiki, a practice that the Catholic Church had deemed incompatible with Christianity.

Karen: I would say that when I was attuned to Reiki, I think that definitely opened me up for what was to come. Again, doing the Reiki per se, I didn’t feel any major, shift or enlightenment or anything like that, but looking back now, I’m like, Oh, I think it set me up for a lot and opened me up even more.

I believe it came into my life at the perfect time because I went through a really traumatic breakup where I was living abroad with my ex and I was back home in Ireland on holiday for Christmas. And he literally sent me an email and broke up with me and disappeared. And I’ve never heard from him since. He was just like, I can’t do this. And he wasn’t from Ireland, and he said he had gone back to his home country, and he would have my stuff shipped back to Ireland. Nothing ever arrived.

And I’ll never forget that email. I was completely and utterly obliterated into pieces. I mean, for the first couple of days, I was just stuck to bed and crying, and I went straight to victimhood and straight to questioning, what did I do wrong? And just replaying so many stories and going through every single moment, an episode, a nuance of, Oh my God, I should have known this. I should have known that. Bah, dee, bah, dee, bah, straight into victimhood. And those kind of tears that you’re like hyperventilating and suffocating because you’re crying so hard.

And I remember one day, I was in bed and in a hysterics, crying hysterically. And all of a sudden, this immense calm and serenity just came over me. It was really quick, but I remember thinking, wow, this is weird. I was just like bawling my eyes out. But this immense serenity, and then I heard a voice, and it said, okay Karen, you have two choices here. You stay exactly as you are; crying, miserable, not talking to anyone, going over things a million and one times in your head, driving yourself insane, or you accept this as your reality and you move forward.

In that moment, I was just like, Oh yeah, this has happened. Like, I can’t unhappen it. So, of course, I’m going to get on with my life. But actually, it was the first time in my life that I started feeling my feelings, funnily enough. I had been so shut down like that. I lived in my head. I wasn’t connected to my body at all. I wasn’t connected to my emotions. I held everything in.

And for the first time in my life I actually felt my emotions and I noticed that when I felt my emotions and allowed them and just rolled with it, they dissipated. They actually didn’t stay. So, everything shifted in that moment. And again, not to say that it was easy from then, but I just had this whole new clarity and perspective and insight. And I was like, yes, this is horrible. Yes, this is traumatic. Yes, I have emotional pain to move through. But also, why would I destroy my life in the meantime?

I didn’t have the word awakening at the time. I didn’t know that. It was only years later that I was like, wow, was that an awakening? Is that what it’s like? So I was going through that. I was going through the event and I noticed how it only hurt when I remembered to think about it. And that was so obvious to me when I was present, when I was in gratitude, when I was living my life, when I was noticing everything I had, I was fine. I was okay. I was healthy.

It was only when I remembered to think about it and went back to the story that I felt the fear, the panic, the sadness, the anger, the everything. And again, it’s not about denial, but they were the emotions to move through. So for once in my life, I was actually processing things as they came up. But because I was okay, everyone thought I was in complete and utter denial. Whereas for the first time in my life, I was like, no, I’m actually not. Like, I am actually not in denial.

Melissa: Karen realized how much her study and practice of Reiki supported and assisted her in healing after that breakup. And though she didn’t intend to share it with anyone else at the time, she decided to go deeper into learning and completing the Reiki levels to extend her own healing journey. But as we all realize at some point, healing is a gift that we are all eventually compelled to share.

As she began sharing energy healing with others, Karen continued to allow curiosity and intuition to guide her into other modalities that created opportunities for the expansion of both her consciousness and her career.

Karen: I won’t ever stop learning. I’m extremely curious and I consider myself like a scientist, but I’m my own project and life is my lab. So I’m always following the nuggets. It’s all these nuggets that have unfolded. I know to trust the feeling and I know to trust what’s showing up for me and I also know that I’ll never know how it will go until I follow and take action. So it’s been threads of that my whole life.

And another thing that came onto my path that was a catalyst was plant medicines and ayahuasca. And I think it was during an ayahuasca ceremony a couple of years ago that I got the message that my breath was my superpower. And I just thought, kind of, I know how to breathe. Why is this calling me? So I kind of avoided it for a while. But during pandemic, I joined my first breathwork session. I had no idea what to expect.

And afterwards, it was just like every cell in my body was like, oh my god, what the hell is that? I need to learn more. And for me, it was mind blowing and that whole somatic, like, that of the body and the physical sensations were huge for me. And that’s what I needed. That’s exactly what I needed more than anything that even the plant medicines couldn’t help me with.

I never had such a somatic feeling ever. I mean, I was bawling crying at one stage. I was laughing at one stage. I was vibrating at one stage. I don’t even know and I’ve done countless journeys since. And I’ve had some such intense, somatic sensations. It’s like embodying it on a new level. And even our breath in Sanskrit means spirit. And it really helps me connect to that consciousness, to source, to the spirit within, that essence even more than ever before.

Melissa: We’re back with Karen Maloney. Thank you so much, Karen, for sharing your story. I am constantly amazed how much I relate to others journeys. I talk with people from all over the world, from different familial, cultural, and religious backgrounds. And it’s just incredible to me how similar we all really are.

Our hopes and fears, experiences of trauma, pain, disappointment, curiosity, healing. It’s always like every journey of consciousness has these certain fundamental building blocks, but they’re simply arranged from different perspectives. And I really love that, but I want to talk to you more about your current work for sure. But first, can you tell us how you define, explain, or understand consciousness?

Karen: For me, I call it the ultimate reality. It is the ultimate truth and it makes me think of a line in A Course in Miracles where they talk about there’s two parallel realities happening. There’s reality with a big R, capital R and there’s reality with the small r. And we think that this reality, this physical 3D and our job and our work and our interactions and all our senses and physical touch and smell and sight and sound is the ultimate reality and the reality with capital R, but actually it’s not.

It’s the reality with the small r. The true reality and the truth of all of us is the intangible, is the essence, is that energy, that consciousness, that vibration that is holding all of this together. And when we connect to more of that and allow more of it to flow through our body by making our body a lighter channel to receive more of it, I think it makes this reality with the small r or even better as well.

We’re here to experience so much more than just the physical. And a lot of people, the Mayans and different traditions as well, they call this reality an illusion and just assimilation, and like a game. And that can be hard to accept. And I know for me, I was like, well, how does that work, you know? Feels pretty real to me. And it is real, it’s not saying that it’s not real. But it’s not the ultimate truth.

And I think when we get overly fixated, which especially we do in Western society because we often push aside the emotional and the spiritual aspect of ourselves and call it woo woo and airy fairy and no truth to it, but we are a whole person. We’re the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual. And when we connect on all levels and learn to connect to the consciousness of what is and the true reality, again, we can, like they say, create heaven on earth.

Melissa: Yeah. And it’s real in the sense that the experience is real. The experiential part is real. And that’s the value, I believe, that part, but it’s not base reality or objective reality. Let’s talk a little bit more about your work and the Inside Out method. I really love that because one of the more difficult things for me to really get in my own journey was the concept of changing external circumstances through the internal work.

And I’m going to assume that I’m not alone in that. I think a lot of people have trouble with that part. And I guess I’m also assuming that that is the conceptual basis of your method, but I don’t want to put words in your mouth. So could you tell us a little bit about your Inside Out method and where that came from?

Karen: Yeah. I always said to my clients that I’m my own project. I am my own work. Like, truly, that is my work. It is me with me. And when I’m doing that, the rest flows. And I don’t share things like that because I like the sound of them or I think it’d be a cool career or whatever. It’s because I’ve walked the talk and I keep walking it and I will never stop walking it now because it’s a lifestyle. It’s just who I am now.

But it does ultimately come back to that root of our thoughts are creating our reality or more our beliefs. But our beliefs are just thoughts that we have been thinking for a long time that we’ve just accepted as true, whether we had evidence of it or not. And that’s why we have a load of beliefs from society, from culture, from religion, from peers, from education, everything that we’ve just absorbed.

And that’s because as well, before the age of seven, we’re in a theta brainwave. So we’re essentially being hypnotized for the first seven years of our life. We don’t have the beta brain to analyze and rationalize. And when we go on this inner journey and kind of self-discovery, we realize that up to 95% of what we currently believe is not ours and we don’t necessarily believe it anymore. But it’s what’s programmed into our subconscious and it’s what’s playing out all the time in our life.

So, we focus on the outside and we focus on the end problem, whether it’s the job, whether it’s the relationship, whether it’s the weight, whatever it is. But we have to take it back a few steps because our thoughts create beliefs, beliefs create our actions, and our actions create our life. So, yeah, we can change the outside, but it’s never truly long lasting.

We can experience a short term relief. We can change job, change house, and at the start, we’re like, oh yeah, this is great. I feel great. And next thing, couple of weeks, couple of months, a year later, we have the same feelings. That’s why we can change anything. We can change country. We can change whatever. And all of a sudden, we’re feeling the same because we haven’t fundamentally changed within the lens that everything has been passed through within us.

All the great spiritual texts and even religion talk about the greatest gift is to know ourselves. And I remember even for me, I was like, well, what do you mean? Like, of course I know myself. I’m Karen. I do this and I do that. And yeah, we know our self on one level, but it’s not the ultimate truth of ourselves. We only know ourselves of what we’ve been told over and over again, over and over again. And that’s how we learn; it’s through repetition. So, if we want to change something, it’s through repetition. And that’s why it doesn’t just happen overnight. It’s repetition and it’s relearning.

Melissa: Yeah, that’s very true. And it does take a while. And this is a topic I could definitely spend the rest of the episode on and still keep going. But I want to go back to your current work and talk a little bit more about the modalities you use in your Inside Out method. I know breathwork is a big one and there’s a lot to that and it can be overwhelming for someone new to breathwork practices. So can you talk a little bit about the types of breathwork you use in your practice and maybe some of the benefits?

Karen: Totally. Yeah. And again, like I mentioned earlier, breathwork is really the general name for a huge branch of different breathing practices. And when most of us think of breathwork, and I was the same, we think of kind of the yogic pranayamic breathwork, where we’re extending our exhale and we’re relaxing the body.

If you think at the end of yoga and Shavasana and you’re just like, Oh, I just get to bliss out and just really breathe nice and slow and smoothly and deeply and extending my exhale. And when we extend our exhale, that’s moving us into parasympathetic nervous system and that’s our rest and digest that’s bringing the body back into balance, homeostasis.

So the body is so intelligent. It is the most incredible piece of technology we will ever own in our whole entire lives, I always say, but we don’t really know anything about it. And we certainly don’t know the best ways sometimes to support it. But it is programmed for healing. It is a self-healing mechanism. It knows what to do when we support it.

And for me as well, the breath, I consider it like our personal remote control to our inner world, to our mental and emotional and physical and spiritual well-being. We’re working with our breath consciously for an end result. And it’s one of the things that happens involuntary. So we’re breathing all the time, whether we’re conscious of it or not, but it’s also one of the things that we can control voluntary.

And again, there’s so many different ones, but one that has been studied by the HeartMath Institute for the last 35 plus years, they have come up with the perfect breath and have studied it. And basically, they’ve come up with a 5.5 second inhale and a 5.5 second exhale is like the perfect breath. It brings the brain and the heart into what’s known as coherence, so into more communication, balance, and it also helps heart rate variability.

Another branch of breathwork that I’m currently studying is more functional breathing because actually most of us, we’re not breathing correctly. Again, because it’s something that happens voluntary, we think we’re doing it right, but actually most of us aren’t. Because our nervous systems are in stress constantly, we’re upper chest breathing; we’re activating our fight and flight. And it’s said that over 66% of people are chronic over breathers. We’re breathing too much and we’re breathing through our mouth. When we breathe through our mouth, it’s a recipe for a whole load of health issues.

So that kind of 5, 5, that’s something we can do all day every day whenever we’re conscious of it. Naturally, our consciousness will float off. But whenever we remember, we can slow down our breath again and count to a 5, 5 inhale and exhale.

There’s other ones, the likes of a 4, 7, 8, which is really good for insomnia or sleeping. So it’s a 4-second inhale in through the nose, 7-second pause, and then an 8-second exhale out the nose or the mouth. And that’s again just helping regulate the body, bringing it more into balance, relaxing it, and helping, especially that overactive mind to calm down, especially to go into sleep.

There’s the likes of a 4, 6. Inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 6. Anytime we extend the exhale, we’re activating parasympathetic nervous system. There is a 4, 2, 6. So breathing in for 4, holding for 2 seconds, exhaling for 6. So they’d be very relaxing, parasympathetic. I think we all should be more conscious of how we’re breathing full stop, and we should all aim to breathe through our nose as much as possible and into our belly versus into our chest all day, every day, as a basic. It’s very much an activating breath to get us into these different states of consciousness.

Melissa: Yeah, it took me a long time. Actually, not too long, really. I mean, it didn’t take that long with mindful practice of it. But I used to be a crazy overthinker, could not stop my mind, had awful insomnia for years. And I realized when I’d get in those places where I couldn’t control my thoughts, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t even relax, I could control my breath. And when I would do that, then I could start connecting and noticing my heart rate is slowing down.

My shoulders are dropping, my muscles are relaxing, and then it’s me and my body connecting together. And then before you know it, all those thoughts are not there. There’s not this endless frantic loop of so many things because the thoughts will follow the state of the body.

Karen: True. I lived in my mind. I was completely shut off from my body. I was a massive overthinker and also a huge perfectionist, like crippling perfectionism. Like I burnt myself out so bad that I remember I literally felt like I blew up my brain and I was like, okay, universe, I was like, show me another way because clearly the way I’m doing things is not working. I lived at the level of mind and it was exhausting and I completely and utterly went through burnout.

Melissa: Yeah, definitely. Definitely. Because when you’re in that state of fight or flight constantly, and you don’t even know it because it’s so normal, you can’t think rationally. You can’t see the forest for the trees. You can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s just not available because you’re not in that conscious space. Your consciousness is not open to the point where you can see anything outside of this tight little tunnel.

And so much of that is coming up from the body. And so it’s just going to keep coming and keep coming and keep coming until it’s properly released. And once you get that, once you’re able to calm that nervous system and connect with the body in that way, yeah, then you can start seeing, you’re open to those other possibilities and other perspectives.

Karen: And it’s like, there is no fault. Because even when I look back now, again, I’m like, that’s the incredible wisdom of the body that even in those times, you know, I shut down as a survival mechanism and I can see now that I had the story that if I can overthink everything and if I’m constantly on high alert and looking around me and trying to figure out the next step that everyone’s going to take and everything that’s going to happen, I’m safe.

That’s why I was in hyper alert, hyper everything to my external world because I hadn’t processed because my body was literally trying to scream to me and to process and release this. But I didn’t move, and I didn’t know how to stop and I didn’t have the tools and I didn’t know how to feel my emotions. I thought if I opened up or allowed myself to feel, I might drown. I don’t know what’ll happen.

And that’s how the mind makes it out to be the scariest thing in the world to open up, to stop, to feel, to go within. It’s like, oh my god, no, no, no. No way. I’ve no idea what’ll happen. I better just keep going, keep going, keep going. Whereas it’s always been my experience that it’s never as bad as my mind makes it out to be ever.

Melissa: Yeah, I totally agree. It’s never as bad as we fear but always far more beneficial than we usually imagine it will be. Well, Karen, I want to ask you about one more aspect of your work that really interested me because it was so new to me and I love natural remedies, particularly those that promote expanded consciousness.

I’ve talked on the show about psilocybin ceremonies and my own work with psilocybin, but I’d never heard of cacao ceremonies. I mean, I’ve used cacao as a nutritional supplement, and sometimes I like chocolate. But how do you use it for consciousness expansion?

Karen: Well, I was the same. Years ago, when cacao called me, I was like, what the hell is this? I didn’t even really like chocolate. Like, how could this help me? My first skeptic mind thought, and then I’m like, okay, I know how this goes. This is something I need to explore. I was back home in Ireland at the time and there was a couple of ceremonies coming up and I’ll go check this out.

And since then, it’s actually– it’s a daily practice nearly in my life, working with cacao. Not the ceremonial dose are in that aspect, but like that, the nutritional benefits and it’s just a heart opening medicine and it’s a cardiovascular stimulant versus an adrenal stimulant, so it gives a more sustained boost throughout the day. Even back in Inca and Aztec times, chocolate was considered liquid gold and the food of the gods because it has this potential for heart opening, for higher consciousness, and it is a plant medicine, but very, very, very, very gentle compared to psilocybin or ayahuasca or anything else.

And like that, it came across my path after having done a lot of plant medicine ceremonies. And I believe it’s a really powerful tool as well for integration. But more than anything, I consider it an embodiment medicine and it really helped me to connect to my body, to soften into my body, to be with my emotions and my feelings and be okay with that.

And the first ceremony that I joined like that a couple of years ago, I brought my mother along as well. And we did some songs and things first, then we drink it. And then it was a laying down meditation sound bath that the facilitator was sharing. And where we had come from, our hometown was about an hour away.

So after the ceremony, the facilitator was like, Oh, if you have some time, I’d recommend going to the nearby park or the woods and just having a walk and chilling for a while before driving back if you’re not in a rush. So, we did.

And I remember walking through the woods, and I felt euphoric. I felt like I was absolutely brimming with love; this smile on my face, this lightness, this kind of bliss. I could feel the energy of the trees and different things, but not in a hallucinogenic way, just in a really heart-centered, open kind of Whoa, what was this? And it was beautiful, really, really lovely. So yeah, basically since then it’s a daily, almost daily ally in my meditation, in my creation and productivity and just general health.

But I actually studied and I joined a practitioner course as well to learn more and to guide ceremonies and learning more about what makes cacao ceremonial versus the cacao we find in the health food stores, which isn’t the same. The more processed it is, the more it loses its active benefits. And cacao has psychoactive benefits. So they’re not psychedelic, they’re psychoactive.

And two of the main ones are anandamide and phenylethylamine. And anandamide is that bliss molecule and the phenylethylamine or PEA is that love molecule. And again, these are naturally occurring in our body, but cacao has them as well and that’s what makes it this heart-opening medicine and elixir.

But, like I mentioned, it has theobromine, so it’s a cardiovascular stimulator. So it actually opens up our blood vessels as well and brings more oxygenated blood around the body and especially to the brain. They say like 30 to 40 percent more oxygenated blood to the brain. And that’s why it’s really good as well for concentration, for focus, for productivity, for creativity, and I mean the whole host of the superfood benefits.

It’s the highest food source of magnesium. It has a huge amount of minerals and vitamins and iron and all sorts. But yeah, it’s a really, really beautiful, beautiful medicine that I’m so grateful came into my life. And I call it an embodiment medicine. It helped me connect to my body more than anything.

Melissa: Oh, that’s incredible, Karen. I am really looking forward to doing one of those, definitely. Definitely on my list. So as we wrap up, what is one thought that you’d like to leave listeners with as it relates to the concept of consciousness and the work you do?

Karen: Be curious about who you are and explore all that you can be.

Melissa: Oh, I really love that. Karen. Anyone who listens to this show knows that I believe curiosity is more divine than just about anything. I’m so happy you could join us today. I really loved it. Thank you for sharing your gifts and talents and expertise. Where can people find you to reach out or find out more about what you’re doing?

Karen: Yeah, well, thank you, Melissa. It’s been an absolute pleasure as well, and I love talking about these things. And it’s not always that we get to talk about different depths and levels of consciousness and have these deep conversations, so I really appreciate you. And anyone can find me, my website is just my name, And I’m basically Karen Maloney on Instagram. I’m most active on Instagram, Karen Maloney Inside Out Coach on Facebook.

But yeah, everything is linked from my website as well. There’s a link there for my new community, which is called Awakened Flame. It’s a separate platform, but the links are on my website. So feel free to reach out.

Melissa: Thanks again, Karen. We’ll have all that in the show notes, of course. Now stick around for my takeaways from today’s conversation and then our special little gift from Karen. You don’t want to miss that.

I had such a great time talking with Karen. The conversation went in so many different directions that it’s a little challenging for me to pull it all in a cohesive manner. So I think I’ll just dip into a couple of little things here and you guys can dig deeper into whatever might pique your interest.

I really loved when Karen explained her understanding of consciousness because I can geek out for days on theories of consciousness, illusion, objective reality, simulation theories. I have spent literally thousands of hours on my obsession with consciousness and reality theories over the past few years and have so few people to discuss it with. So that was a lot of fun.

While these topics have been discussed for millennia, of course, this is nothing new. Attempts to dismiss them as unscientific or heretical have kept them pretty much out of the mainstream collective consciousness to a large degree, but that is rapidly changing. In fact, to me, at this point, it would be difficult for me to take any researcher seriously who believes we live in base reality or that consciousness is somehow a result of biological evolution.

There’s just no compelling evidence for either paradigm when faced with the mountains of evidence to the contrary. I won’t go into detail here, that would take me all day and not everyone gets as giddy about this stuff as I do. But if it did pique your curiosity during the episode, I’ll quickly share two of my favorite modern researchers in case you want to check them out.

I really love Bernardo Kastrup. His book, The Idea of the World, is a good place to start. He also has a new YouTube channel. And he’s done a ton of interviews on other people’s channels, so you could just do a search for him. I also really like the work of Donald Hoffman and his team. Don also has done many interviews that you can easily find on YouTube or other platforms. But if you want to dig deeper, I highly recommend his book, The Case Against Reality.

I would also check out his latest published scientific paper entitled Fusions of Consciousness because it really gets to the heart of consciousness and reality, both within and outside of space time, which is really cool. And not all of my personal beliefs totally line up with Don’s theories, but his work has been highly instrumental in helping me to shape my own understanding of consciousness and of the construct in which we exist. And the mathematics are super compelling as well, so bonus for good math.

Okay. That’s enough of my enthusiasm for the academic and scientific theories of consciousness and reality. I really appreciated Karen’s thoughts about the ancient adage, know thyself. She talked about knowing who we are outside of any attachments to ego identity or this 3D physical construct. So basically knowing who we are on an energetic level, rather than on the level of titles or personas.

Who am I if I’m not a mother, friend, daughter, lover, employee, boss, sister, coworker, who or what am I at my core? What is my energetic essence? If I woke up alone tomorrow and had no memory of my past, no memory of what anyone had ever told me about myself, no memory of the voices in my head, including my own, if I had no memory of any labels, identities, responsibilities, or expectations, if I had no fear of what anyone might think of me, or any memory that anyone’s opinion had ever even mattered to me, what would be left?

I wrote a short story once about a day in the life of a woman who woke up alone with amnesia. At the end, when she’s found and told who she is, along with all her limitations, limitations she did not live with for an entire day, she’s initially devastated, but ultimately transformed. And I think this is what awakening to the truth of ourselves is like for a lot of us. And I highly recommend connecting daily with your thoughts, emotions, your breath, and your body, which Karen talked a lot about.

In our society, we tend to separate these as though they’re independent of one another, and nothing could be further from the truth. I encourage everyone to mindfully do this every day. If you believe you don’t have time, then do it whenever you can. Maybe in the shower, as you’re driving, fixing dinner, whatever. Start where you can. But observe what thoughts are going through your mind. What emotions do those thoughts evoke? How do those emotions feel in your body? How are you breathing in that moment?

Observe how they’re all connected. And then ask yourself, is this how I want to feel right now? Consciously choose. You get to do that every day, in every moment. You get to choose. And those choices matter because they result in behaviors that impact not only you, but everyone who comes into contact with you.

Caring enough to observe yourself and choose how you want to feel to give yourself even that small amount of attention is a significant act of love and not just self-love. Like I said, how you treat yourself and how you decide to think and feel affects everyone around you. Take a moment now, if you can stop what you’re doing, sit or lie down for just a few minutes and observe yourself. And then listen and breathe as Karen leads us through her beginner workout practice that might just change the rest of your day.

Karen: So first of all, if anyone is driving or doing something important at the moment, don’t do this because you can feel very lightheaded. So come back to it at another time when you have time to just sit down for five minutes. We’ll just do it for maybe three and a half minutes. We’ll do the breath and we’ll do a short breath hold, where we hold our breath on the inhale for 30 seconds at the end.

I’ll count you in. I’ll let you know when it’s coming up. But as well, if anyone is pregnant or has any severe health issues, don’t do the breath hold. Just breathe nice and deep in and out through your nose. But anyone else, if you’re ready, make sure you’re sitting down and your back is well supported. So whether you’re sitting or if you have a few moments to lie down, you can lie down, just making sure your back is fully supported.

Feet on the ground. I say to everyone on every journey that I guide, you’re always in control. I cannot breathe for anyone. I am not here to breathe for anyone. Everyone needs to listen and trust their own body. And at any stage, if anyone needs a moment to relax, if things are too intense, I always say just close your mouth, stop the act of breathing, breathe through your nose for a couple of rounds, allow everything to settle, and come back in when you’re ready. That’s the beauty of it, that you’re always in control.

I’ll explain the breath first. We’re going to be breathing in and out through the nose, breathing nice and deep, and just feeling full expansion in the belly and towards the bottom of the ribs. And for this breath as well, it’s about breathing really deep. So it’s not about breathing really fast, we want to breathe really deep. But we do want to make the breath circular. So we’re not going to have any pauses at the top or the bottom. One breath is going to lead into the next. So when you come to the end of your exhale, you’re going to breathe in again straight away.

And when you come to the top of that, breathing out straight away. Okay, so you can breathe in through the nose, into the belly, and out through the mouth. Just doing that one or two times. And again, it’s just keeping it circular, no long pauses, and maybe just before you start as well, just take a moment to drop in and notice what’s present in your body.

So right in this very moment, how are you feeling? What’s rising, give your body some space to show you what’s there, bringing some awareness, whatever it is, there’s no need to label it, just allowing any sensation, any feeling, any emotion, just taking a moment to drop in and name it, naming it silently for yourself and maybe even giving it a score. So from one to ten, ten being it’s really strong, it’s very present at the moment, one being maybe it’s just a little niggle.

It’s just taking a moment again to bring some conscious awareness to the body. There’s no right or wrong, just allowing what is, and then we move into the breath practice. So again, in three, two, one, breathing in through the nose, filling up the belly, letting it go out the mouth, keeping that circular, keeping it going nice and deep in through the nose, full expansion in the belly. Exhaling out the mouth.

No pauses at the top or the bottom. Go into your own rhythm, your own pace. Breathing nice and deep. Circular breaths. No pauses. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Making it nice and smooth and rhythmic. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Again, we’ll be doing this for three and a half minutes. And we’ll do a slight breath hold at the end of the three and a half minutes. I’ll count you in. And that’s when we’ll exhale our air. We’ll take a deep inhale and we’ll hold at the top of the inhale.

But for now, just keep breathing nice and deep. Full body awareness, full consciousness on your breath. On full expansion of your belly. Breathing deep. I want you to breathe deeper than maybe you’ve ever breathed it. In through the nose, out through the mouth, and again making it circular. So no pauses at the top or the bottom. So your rhythm may be slightly faster than you normally breathe on a day-to-day basis. That’s okay. But again, just making it nice and deep. In through the nose, out through the mouth.

In through the nose, out through the mouth. Just do a natural exhale, wherever your exhale naturally ends, and then breathing in again straight away. It doesn’t have to be a full exhalation, emptying everything out. Just feeling your belly expand like a balloon on each inhale. Breathing nice and deep. Bringing the breath right down into the belly, out through the mouth, and again, keeping it circular, no pauses.

And if you feel light headed or tingly, that’s okay, that’s normal. If anyone needs to take a break, that’s absolutely fine. Otherwise, just keep it going, just a little over a minute left to go. In through the nose, out through the mouth, and maybe even imagine breathing in a color for these last couple of breaths. Imagine breathing in whatever color appears to you. Cleansing, clearing, purifying, washing through your whole body. Removing any funkiness, any lower vibrations.

Again, we don’t need the mind, just trusting the body, full presence, full awareness, breathing in through the nose, out through the mouth. When you get ready for a breath hold in a couple of seconds, and again, I’ll count you in and we’ll hold on the inhale. So just take your last couple of breaths.

And then in three, two, one, just releasing your air and then on your next inhale, take a full breath in. And when you reach the top of the inhale, hold your breath. So breathing in, hold your breath and imagine squeezing your pelvis but relaxing your body. Softening your body, dropping your shoulders, softening your jaw, holding your breath, pulling up in your pelvis but softening.

And if anyone needs to breathe before the time is up, that is fine. If you can hold, keep holding. Holding your breath, feeling your mind on pause, feeling any energies moving, the peace within. And in 3, 2, 1, letting go, breathing normally and just taking a moment to allow any energies to recalibrate, coming back into balance, and just notice your feet on the ground.

See if you can feel or see or notice the energy or any sensations on the inside of your feet. Whatever that means for you, putting your full focus and attention on the inside of your feet, breathing normally, and then just taking a moment to come to your heart center, putting your focus on your heart and just noticing what’s present now and how you were feeling just at the start of this very short practice, just notice if there has been any shift or any ease or any sense of lightness or more peace or calm.

Anything that has come in, just noticing it, naming it, and being grateful that even in a couple of short minutes, noticing how you can shift your internal state, your whole energy, your vibration, and just imagine what you could do in an hour. Just slowly in your own time, just bringing movement back into your body, and in your own time, getting up and going on with your day.

Melissa: Oh, that was lovely. Tinkly feet. How fun.

Thank you for listening to Consciousness Explored. Consciousness Explored is part of the Mirasee FM podcast network, which also includes such shows as Just Between Coaches and Neuroscience of Coaching. A special thanks to Karen Maloney for generously sharing her time and gifts with us today. In the show notes, you’ll find the link to her website, That’s Karen M-A-L-O-N-E-Y dot com.

If you’d like to reach out to me, I would love to hear from you. My contact information is in the show notes or just below on YouTube. To make sure you don’t miss great episodes coming up on Consciousness Explored, please follow us on Mirasee FM’s YouTube channel or your favorite podcast player. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a comment or a starred review. It really is the best way to help us get these ideas to more people. Thanks, and I’ll see you next time.