Andrew Holecek: Dream Yoga, Part 2

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June 27, 2016

Andrew Holecek: Dream Yoga, Part 2

Andrew Holecek June 27, 2016

Andrew Holecek is an author and spiritual teacher whose work blends a background in ancient Tibetan Buddhism with the leading edge of contemporary Western thought. With Sounds True, he has released the book Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep. In the fascinating second part of his interview on Insights at the Edge, Andrew speaks with Tami Simon about pressing beyond lucid dreaming and into the actual nighttime practice of dream yoga. They talk about illusory form yoga and invoking specific imagery within dreams to cultivate positive qualities. Finally, Andrew describes the ability to actually meditate within dreams—as well as the doorways to personal inquiry this practice can unlock. (78 minutes)

Andrew Holecek is an author, speaker, and humanitarian who offers seminars internationally on meditation, lucid dreaming, and the art of dying. He has studied sleep yoga, bardo yoga, and other traditional practices with living masters in India and Nepal. Andrew’s books include Dreams of LightDream Yoga, and Reverse Meditation. His work has appeared in Psychology Today, Parabola, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, Utne Reader, Buddhadharma, Light of Consciousness, and many other periodicals. He hosts the popular Edge of Mind podcast and is the founder of the Night Club community, a support platform for nocturnal meditations. Learn more at andrewholecek.com.

Author photo © Abby Stern

Listen to Tami Simon's interview with Andrew Holecek: Dream Yoga, Part 1 »

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Andrew Holecek: Reverse Meditation

Your mindfulness practice worked! You calmed your mind and felt the deep, inner bliss that meditation brings. But, asks Andrew Holecek, what do you do with these beatific states when your world is falling apart? Where’s your meditation practice then? 

In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Holecek about his new book, Reverse Meditation, and how we can move toward a more complete spirituality that welcomes all of our experience. Illuminating the four steps of reverse meditation and much more, their conversation explores: how pain and hardship can accelerate the spiritual journey; why mindfulness “sedates but doesn’t liberate”; the cultivation of “industrial-strength” meditation; repairing an adverse relationship to unwanted experiences; the practice of open awareness; bringing the unconscious into the light of consciousness; investigating our personal “super-contractors” such as anger, fear, or anxiety; shifting from reactivity to responsiveness; the OBEY acronym of reverse meditation: observe, be, examine, yoke; three attitudes for practice: kindness, patience, and curiosity; establishing the right view; the anti-complaint meditation; and productive thinking.

Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

Turn your understanding of meditation inside out and u...

Meditation has found a home in the West. Countless scientific studies tout its benefits, and a multitude of students proclaim its life-changing value. I am one of those students. For over forty-five years I have practiced this ancient art, and I continue to reap its remarkable rewards. While I remain a follower of many wisdom traditions, and believe that no one has a patent on truth, thirty years ago I took refuge in Buddhism. The adage “Chase two rabbits; catch none” points out the necessity of commitment, and the dangers of spreading yourself too thin.

My passion for meditation led me into the traditional Tibetan three-year retreat, where I became a monk with robes and a shaved head, meditating fourteen hours a day in a remote monastery. I even slept sitting up in meditation posture, practicing the nocturnal meditations of dream and sleep yoga. Three-year retreat is like a meditation university, providing the opportunity to practice dozens of meditations in the most nurturing environment. It remains the most transformative experience of my life.

Of the many practices I was introduced to in retreat, one meditation stands out: the quirky, intense, multifaceted, and revolutionary practice of reverse meditation. I learned these practices within the context of Mahāmudrā (Sanskrit for “great seal”), a lofty tradition in Tibetan Buddhism that explores the nature of the mind. This was over twenty years ago, and since then these radical meditations have become a cornerstone of my spiritual path.

They’re called “reverse” meditation for a number of reasons. First, these practices are the opposite, or reverse, of what many of us associate with meditation. Most people think that meditation is about feeling good, getting “Zen,” or otherwise chilling out. But this is just one small aspect of meditation. Complete meditation is not about feeling good—it’s about getting real. And getting real requires dealing with the reality of difficult situations.

Second, these unique meditations are designed to reverse our relationship to unwanted experiences, which means going directly into them instead of avoiding them. In so doing we can discover the basic goodness of whatever arises, which is deeper than interpretative goodness. Basic goodness refers to the ineffable “suchness, isness, thatness” of whatever occurs—good or bad.

If we capitulate to our usual avoidance strategies, we push the acute, conscious psychological discomfort of avoidance into becoming a chronic, unconscious mental cramp. The discomfort is still there, but now it’s buried deep in our body-mind matrix, where it works backstage to dictate much of our onstage life. The rejected experience then manifests symptomatically—it becomes an undiagnosed reflection of an underlying discord that expresses itself in virtually everything we do. Our actions then become evasion tactics—reactivity, psychological duress, physical illness, and all manner of unskillful responses to the challenges of life—as we try to skirt these buried, uncomfortable feelings.

The reverse meditations give us the opportunity to relate to our mind instead of from it—and also to establish a relationship to our evasion tactics, which otherwise become obstacles that act like scar tissue to sequester the unwanted experience from consciousness. Relating from our mind, from our reactivity, is no relationship at all. In place of conscious relationship, we respond with knee-jerk reflexes to difficult experience, a reactivity that kicks us out of our feeling body and into our thinking head, and into unnecessary suffering. Instead of dealing authentically with the challenging somatic sensation, we leap into inauthentic conceptual proliferation (confabulating and catastrophizing) to buffer ourselves from the discomfort of our feelings. We run from the honest pain and real news that come with being human, and into dishonest commentary and fake news. The truth is that many of the worst things in our life are things that never really “happened”!

Third, the reverse meditations upend our sense of meditation altogether. They represent a revolution in spiritual practice that turns our understanding of meditation inside out and upside down, and therefore radically expand our practice. Situations that were once antithetical to meditation now become our meditation. Obstacles that previously obstructed our spiritual path now become our path. This means that everything becomes our meditation. Nothing is forbidden. We can enter lifetime retreat in the midst of ordinary life.

Excerpted from Reverse Meditation: How to Use Your Pain and Most Difficult Emotions as the Doorway to Inner Freedom by Andrew Holecek.

Andrew Holecek is an author, speaker, and humanitarian who offers seminars internationally on meditation, lucid dreaming, and the art of dying. His work has appeared in Psychology Today, Parabola, Lion’s Roar, Tricycle, Utne Reader, Buddhadharma, Light of Consciousness, and many other periodicals. Learn more at andrewholecek.com.

Andrew Holecek: Perception Is Creation: Discovering Em...

Andrew Holecek is an author and spiritual teacher whose longtime study of Buddhism blends ancient wisdom with contemporary knowledge and insights. He is renowned for his expertise in lucid dreaming and the Tibetan yogas of sleep and dream. With Sounds True, he has published the books Dream Yoga: Illuminating Your Life Through Lucid Dreaming and the Tibetan Yogas of Sleep and Dreams of Light: The Profound Daytime Practice of Lucid Dreaming. In this episode of Insights at the Edge, Andrew and Tami Simon discuss his latest book, including: the traditional three-step approach to the practice of illusory form, seeing the world in a more authentic way and connecting to what’s real, uncovering the roots of human suffering, the intersection of neuroscience and the world’s wisdom traditions, and much more.

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One of the clearest indicators of someone who is flourishing is their ability to build and keep meaningful connections and quality relationships. When designing a life that supports your becoming the most fully expressed version of yourself, the people who are closest to you can either support or hinder your progress. This is why I’m adamant about being intentional about my connections.

My “Presidential Cabinet,” which is basically what I call my trusted circle of friends, is filled with some amazing folks. I’m forever grateful for my community of friends that became family, strangers that became mentors, and colleagues that became accountability partners.

In the chapter “What About Your Friends?” from my book, Evolving While Black, I share with you that people who have strong relationships feel the support of family, friends, and others in their community. When you know you have a village of folks you can count on, it improves your ability to recover from stress, anxiety, and depression.

An agreement I made with myself in my early thirties was to commit to choosing connection and community over isolation. This decision is the gift that keeps on giving. The investment you make in choosing your connections is the greatest pathway to wholeness, prosperity, and longevity.

What you should consider as you’re continuing to build out your own Presidential Cabinet

Your connections should include people who:

  • Energize you and help you to create a life of ease
  • Encourage you to make your mental and emotional well-being a priority 
  • Consider you for opportunities when you’re not in the room
  • Show mutual support and respect 

Now that you know what to consider, use these prompts to create a plan

  • Who’s in your Presidential Cabinet, and how do they support you? 
  • Who do you need to add, and how will they support your journey? 
  • If you change nothing, what will your life look like three months from now? How does this make you feel?

My hope for you is that you attract meaningful connections that bring you joy and make your heart smile, laughs that make your cheeks hurt, and love that covers you like a warm blanket. You deserve to feel loved, supported, and cared for.

Until we meet again.

Currently evolving,

Chianti


Evolving While Black
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Bookshop | Sounds True


Evolving While Black
Sounds True

Chianti Lomax is a sought-after international speaker, certified mindset coach, and leadership trainer who thrives at the intersection of mindfulness, technology, and transformative coaching. As a registered yoga instructor, certified personal and executive coach, certified workplace mindfulness facilitator, and positive psychology practitioner, Chianti teaches doable habit changes to help increase our well-being and elevate the overall human experience. For more, visit chiantilomax.com.

Author photo © Ambreia Williams

Erica Djossa: Releasing the Mother Load

What have we done to our mothers? Sociologists call our times “the era of intensive mothering,” a period in which moms must be it all and do it all for their children and families. Psychotherapist and maternal mental health specialist Erica Djossa has made it her mission to teach today’s mothers how to take care of their well-being in a sustainable way. In this podcast, Tami Simon speaks with Erica about her much-needed new book, Releasing the Mother Load, and the steps we can take to challenge the norms and change the culture around mothering. 

Enjoy this empowering discussion of: values-centered mothering; mothers as martyrs; the pressures facing a generation of “overinformed, overeducated, and overwhelmed” moms; equally sharing our household duties; the cost of cognitive or invisible labor; boundaries; using the “load map” to redistribute the work; “mom rage,” its roots, and the unique nature of anger in motherhood; identifying the “red light and green light” times for difficult conversations with partners (and sticking to them); overcoming perfectionism; self-compassion; re-parenting yourself while you’re parenting your children; the disempowering belief that I’m failing as a mom; effective self-care for moms (it’s not just bubble baths!); advice for making changes—start small; and more.

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Note: This episode originally aired on Sounds True One, where these special episodes of Insights at the Edge are available to watch live on video and with exclusive access to Q&As with our guests. Learn more at join.soundstrue.com.

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