By Janae Jean and Spencer Schluter –
For this conversation, we had the pleasure to speak with therapist, healer, speaker, life coach and author, Andrew Newman. Andrew has published a dozen books as part of The Conscious Bedtime Story Club, with two more coming soon. He graduated from the Barbara Brennan School of Healing as a Non-Dual Kabbalistic healer and has been involved in men’s work through the Mankind Project since 2006. He has published over 2,500 poems through PoemCatcher, acted as a volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity in South Africa, directed Edinburgh’s Festival of Spirituality and Peace, and spoken at engagements around the world. The Conscious Bedtime Story Club is intended to bring parents and children into deeper connection with one another. Visit consciousstories.com for more about Conscious Bedtime Story Club, including information about two new books.
The following is only a small part of our 30-minute conversation with Andrew. We spoke to him more about teaching conscious living to children, the reception of mindfulness in schools and the healing power of creativity. Don’t forget to subscribe, like, review and share the Conscious Community Podcast on your preferred podcatcher app.
Janae: What brought you to write stories for bedtime?
Andrew:Those last 20 minutes of the day are super precious. The stories started coming in a way by themselves.
I was simply following my own journaling practice and my own creativity. A Little Light was the very first story that I wrote, and it was nothing more than a little poem that needed some pictures. Because I see the world through images in my mind, I thought that I could show you my world if I put into a form like this. I could show you things that I have learned, seen, journeyed or crept over and recovered from. So that was book one.Then all of a sudden, I had four! I was like “What am I doing here? Who are these books for? Why do I keep writing books?” That’s when I held them up against my own therapeutic training and my work as a healer. I could see that there were some narratives coming through me through these stories that were healing, useful and missing in the world, and that all of the grownups are dealing with problems that started before they were six years old. So, that’s how I got into this work in this format with kids.
Spencer: Even though they are written as children’s books, they lay out these philosophical concepts. Whether you are talking about prayer, meditation, breathing, the healing power of a hug, or any of the other ideas that you cover in your books, these concepts are really not that complicated. Whether you are an adult or a child, I don’t think you need a huge, thick book to explain these things. They are simple concepts.
AN: These are fairly common human dilemmas that we face at different times. The Fish Who Searched for Water, he is out looking for love. We all go looking for love at some point; we all lose sight of the fact that love is right in front of us. The Hug Who Got Stuck, he’s coming out of the hug factory, but his heart gets caught in the web of sticky thoughts—his negative self-beliefs like “No one loves me. There’s something wrong with me.” When our heads are running those loops, we back away from the world and the flow of love gets blocked.
I’d like these things [philosophical concepts] to be accessible; I’d like them to be spoken about. They certainly were not spoken about in my childhood. I wasn’t given any narrative on how to be in the world. The narrative I got was about preparing me for what I was going to do. At a very young age, I was worried about choosing my subjects in school right, so I’d get into the right college. We’re in trouble, if we haven’t embedded values and morals at that point. Those foundations get formed very strongly by the age of eight years old.
SS: I feel that someone who was looking for answers the would be much better off reading your children’s books than they would be reading a 600-page self-help book.
JJ: Is that one of the things you were trying to do with these books? Were you also trying to relate to the parents as well? As the parents see their kid learning these things then they can re-remember. The parents start to connect to their inner-child as well as help their child with the child’s development.
AN: I don’t know that I set out for that to be a goal, but I do see it happening. It’s interesting because it’s my work, but it’s also a spiritual body of work that is coming through me. I don’t yet fully understand its impact, but I’m learning and I’m seeing that impact as I put things out in the world. I see it as a resource for parents and teachers to communicate some of their internal world. They fall back into the innocence of their own childhood and that remembrance. That’s exactly how I experienced my own healing journey, I un-learned and I found myself back where I started—in my innocence.
The starting words on your [Conscious Community’s] mission statement are “To unify.” This is right. We want to create a unified human experience. Regardless of the different languages, we’re pointing towards the same thing. This state of Oneness. Whether we talk about it as “Oneness,” “Reality” or “God,” those are different languages and pathways. But, what we’re pointing to ultimately, for me, is the same—the same unified field of consciousness out of which we arise and that expresses through us.
Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager, recipe columnist and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an extensive background in new media and music education. She is also the founder of Perennial Music and Arts, an arts education and healing center based in downtown Geneva, IL. Visit www.janaejean.com and www.perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows, articles and projects.
Spencer Schluteris the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit www.yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.