Mindfulness Blog

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Craig Holliday M.A., NCC
2518 Columbine Dr.
Durango, CO 81301
970-759-5829
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A third way

One of the things therapy can do is to give us choices.    When we are stuck in our minds, we only see in black or white, right or wrong.     But my job as a teacher and therapist is to help clients or students open to new ways of being.    One of my teachers, often says there is always a third way.     And this is what we open to the third way; which is the way out of black and white thinking.    But to see another option, we must be willing to see beyond the old ways or limited view of our own conditioning.    This can be difficult because our habitual thought patterns feel comfortable to most of us.    Even if the thoughts are painful, most individuals cling to their own thought patterns, because they are familiar and known.    Many individuals express to me that it is safer to stay where they are, than to move forward into the unknown.    And this is where courage comes in, the courage to walk into the unknown.    I am often amazed at how comfortable we  are in our own patterns and our unwillingness to let go of what we know causes us pain.    That is why we must be willing to be courageous; courageous enough to walk through the door of the unknown, through the door to our new life.

Mindfulness Therapy

Mindfulness Therapy:

Mindfulness therapy is a form of psychotherapy that incorporates Mindfulness Skills Training and a contemplative practice.   Mindfulness teaches us that we do not run from what is difficult in life.    We turn around and face it in a fearless and nonjudgmental way.    This is 100% different than how we humans normally face life.    Our biology teaches us to seek pleasure and avoid pain.   So it is a difficult task as a teacher and therapist to ask individuals to do the opposite of what we are wired to do.   But we could ask ourselves, “How is life going?”    If it were working, we would not be where we are today.    Mindfulness teaches us to step back and look at the situation from a broad perspective.    A perspective that is so broad that it sees clearly.    And from this clarity we actually get to choose how to respond.    We could respond out of our past conditioning, habits and inertia, or we could do something completely different.    We could respond to our situation in a way that actually works.   We can do something different, and respond from a place of Peace and Strength inside.    If we respond from our own Peace and Strength, then we will probably have a radically different outcome.    This is the power in Mindfulness.

But for us to get in touch with our own Strength and Peace, we have to be first willing to face what is happening.    We have to be able to look at our thoughts, beliefs, emotions and patterns nonjudgmentally.   We have to look at and feel all the painful places where we tense and hold tight, where we want to hide or ignore or run from.    We need to be able to see these difficult parts of ourselves like a good mother or father sees a child in pain; with open arms and an open heart.

If you are interested in working in this way or for more information visit www.craigholliday.com or call Craig Holliday MA, NBCC at 970.759.5829

Yoga and the Shadow

Lately, I have been noticing that I have not been the same person on and off the mat or meditation cushion.    I know that this is a common experience not just for everyday folks, but also for gifted Yogis and meditation teachers.    In this last week, a prominent American Zen Master admitted to having an affair with one of his students, and it wasn’t the first time for him or the last time we will hear about a great teacher engaging in some form of behavior that is not fitting.     I am certainly not here to discuss right or wrong; I fail each day and sometimes quite painfully.   And failure at life is the very thing that brought me to the spiritual path. We all know that being a human is incredibly difficult; we are part Divine and part animal.    Quite a silly mixture; and being a human means that we have conditioned minds and a range or irrational emotions and a shadow.

We also have a healthy solid wonderful side that we constantly build upon and let go into in our meditation and yogic practices.    And we may make great gains in these practices; we may be able to hold many asanas perfectly and bend our bodies backwards.    We may be able to sit for hours, with an open and relaxed mind.     But as my teacher says to me, “it is the last 10% that is important.”    It is this 10% that gets us in trouble.     I image most Gurus who get caught with their pants down, are in fact wonderful teachers, but this 10% ends up ruining their careers, families and often huge practice communities.     And the same is true with us.   It is our shadow that we trip over again and again, no matter how enlightened we think we are.   It is our shadow that causes us and others pain.

So, if we are going to practice, let us practice in a way that works to transform our shadow.    It is great to be able to sit quietly or to be able to get your heels to touch the floor in downward dog, but if we are still very neurotic, then we must wonder about how we are practicing.    Are we practicing in a way that is selfish, just trying to attain some state of Bliss for ourselves, or do we practice so that we have a beautiful yoga body?    And there is nothing wrong with practicing in this way.     We all want to experience states of Bliss and look healthy.    But if we are tripping over our shadow again and again, and actually adding to the suffering and confusion in the world; we might want to focus on the shadow.    We might decide to begin working in a way that will benefit others.   And gauge the depth of our practice at how far it reaches into and how deeply it transforms our shadow.   To do this we must be willing to work with the difficult and painful parts of ourselves.     And by courageously bringing our darkness to light, that is when we grow and change, and transform into something quite wonderful.

And I think that it is important to remember that we all are Divine in our nature or in our essence.  Sometimes when we look into our shadow, we forget about our innate goodness and beauty.  But to bring this nature or goodness or radiance forward, we have to work through our humanity.    We may have to work with deep conditioning, negative belief systems, painful and difficult emotions, and all the areas we hide in, or wished didn’t exist.    If we practice in this way, it will be radically different than practicing in a way that is focused on our own gain, or to doing standing splits.   It will in fact transform our world.

To Be Willing

If we want to change and grow we have to be willing.     We have to be willing to see all the difficult parts of ourselves with honestly.  Not only do we need to be able to see them.    We need to be willing to be fully open to them.    And we need to be open with all of ourselves, that includes being willing to feel them.    Most people are somewhat ok with seeing a difficult emotion or way of being within themselves.    But when asked to actually feel and experience that emotion, most turn and find anything else to do.    But if we want an emotion or some deep pattern within us to change or transform, we have to be willing to give it our full attention.     To be free means that we are not going to hide from anything; especially, the difficult and painful parts of ourselves.      We have to be fully willing to meet them with our own love and compassion.

But being free does not only mean that we are able to be open and honest with all the difficult parts of ourselves.    It also means that we are willing to see our own Beauty and Spaciousness as well.    And a funny thing happens, when most people look at their own Beauty and Spaciousness; they become scared.     Scared because they never knew this to be themselves.    Or scared because they know this is the Truth of themselves, and if they are going to live from that place they must give up all the silliness of their own minds (all their thoughts and opinions, about themselves and others).    Or scared because it is something totally new.    And most people are really scared of something new.    Especially Being somebody new.     The biggest fear is that in embodying this Beauty, that  we will somehow die.    It is true in a sense that there will be a death; a death of the ego as the fore front of our consciousness.    The ego will certainly still be there, but it will take the back seat to this Beauty and Spacious Consciousness that we are.

Freedom Takes Everything

Freedom takes everything.

Freedom takes everything from our ego.    You actually get nothing out of the deal, except everything.   Just don't try to hold onto it.   And what are the things that we want to hold onto?   We want to hold onto our cherished ideas, and opinions and our likes and dislikes and our politics.    We love to hold onto all of this.   And what we get in return is a limited self created by the mind.    This is what our mind does; is create itself again and again through building a world, a self out of ideas.    And when we believe this to be ourselves, we suffer.    We suffer because we go from being big, open spaciousness; to being a me who doesn’t like this person or that person.    We go from silent and free to “look at me,  look how successful I am, don’t I look good in this corvette.”     And when the corvette doesn’t drive in the snow or gets repossessed because the economy crashes, we suffer.    But if there is no self to suffer, than there is no problem; and we need to examine this more deeply.    Because if this is just philosophy it has no power, we must take a deeper look and see if this is true.

When the Buddha was asked if there was a self or not, he did not answer.    He remained silent.   And it would be silly to get into the philosophy of self or no self, but what Buddhism teaches us, is that there is no permanent, solid, fixed self.    And if we think there is, then look for it and point to it inside.    Where is this self in us.    Of course there is something in us.    But it certainly is not fixed or permanent or solid.    The trick of our mind is that, we think there is a permanent solid self.    The reason that this is important is that if we stop believing in this, or stop being convinced by this unexamined and imagined self, what are we left with?   What is here when we stop believing our thoughts to be ourselves?    What is here?   Stop and look right now.    What we find is silence.     And we could ask is this silence here all the time?     Is it always here?     Most people say no, that their thoughts are here.    But don’t our thoughts actually arise out of silence.    See for yourself.    What is the space that thoughts arise out of?     Isn’t it Silent, Spacious, Awareness.   This is us.

Buddhism teaches us that everything is impermanent.    For example our thoughts they come and go.   Nothing in them is permanent.    They come and then they go; some stay longer.    But ultimately they go.     And if we are looking for a permanent self in us, we have to look a little deeper and see what we find.    If we look deeply we see that our thoughts come and go, every emotion we ever had has come and gone.   So what is here all the time?    Silence is here all the time.    A vibrant alive spacious silence is here all the time.    And this is great news.     This must be what we are; it is the only permanence of us, a spacious, silent, open awareness.    We don’t have to go anywhere to find it.   We don’t have to do anything to make it.  We don’t have to travel to India to discover it.   We just have to stop chasing and believing all the silly ideas and opinions of our own mind.     Freedom is nothing that we get, it is actually a giving up of all of our seriousness, our charmingness, our identity.    We have to give it all up, or let it be taken away and fall into spaciousness.    In the end, if we want to be free, we have to give up our identity with our imagined self.

 

 

Looking for Problems is a Function of the Mind

Our minds have many functions, and it is important to know and understand these functions so that we can know how this machine works.   And more importantly, if we know how it works, and we can view it as mechanical; then we will not mistake it for ourself.    If we were simply machines, then we would be robots.    Be we are not robots.    Your mind may seem to be real; that’s what its’ job is, to create a sense of identity.    The key word is a "sense" of identity.    Our minds play thoughts on our screen of awareness very much like a film projector plays images on a movie screen.    We have been staring at this screen so long that we take it to be real.    In fact most of us have a projector that is running out of control.    It is very difficult and perhaps impossible to stop the projector, so if we are going to be free, then we must decide to leave the theatre.

When I visited with Adyashanti, I was asking him about how the mind is always recreating itself again and again.    He told me to direct my attention to what is “here all the time.”     One might think that the thinking mind is here all the time.    But actually there are often times when it is not.     So if we begin to put our attention on the space that is here all the time, we might begin to find something quite surprising.    We might find that there is a quiet that is here all the time; and our thoughts and emotions rise out of this quiet.     We might notice this incredible silence here always.    We might notice that there is always spaciousness here.    And that we can rest in this spaciousness.   If we rest here long enough, we might realize that we are actually this quiet, wonderful spaciousness.    And that thinking just happens out of this openness.    How would that change your life, if you were able to realize this mysterious presence to be yourself; instead of the random thoughts that go through the mind?    This work has to do with changing our identity, from being the mind to being whatever it is that the mind takes place in.

The Buddhist call this realization emptiness.     But most people struggle with the concept of emptiness.      Try to think of emptiness as empty of; it is being empty of all the games of the mind, empty of all the personal stories, empty of selfishness, empty of want or desire.     Imagine a mind that is empty of these things.     That is freedom.       Even after we awaken to emptiness to be our self; the thinking mind often, will still go on and on.     It is just that we are no longer paying attention to the movie of our mind.    It would be silly to think that once we wake up out of our minds that they (the mind) stop working.   How would we function in the world.    Through millions and millions of years, evolution worked to create a mind that would be conscious of itself.    That is the mind that we inherited.   And when we fully become conscious of our minds, we realize that we are not these thinking machines, we are the thing that the thinking takes place in.    If we were not, we would not be able to view our own minds.     We would not be aware or have the capacity for awareness or any self reflection.

When we reflect on the mind, we being to see that the mind has certain functions.     It has many functions, one of these functions is to look for problems; constantly.     This is a great function, it keeps us safe.   It is very important to have if, you are in a fight or being chased, in a war zone or a very challenging situation.    The mind will be vigilant searching for problems.     The problem with this type of functioning is that often, in this day and age, it is not needed.     Most of us do not live in a war zone.     So when we are simply sitting in our room, our mind might, out of habit, begin to find problems with the room.    “I wish I had a bigger room, a warmer room, lived in a bigger house, I need new windows, this room would look better if it were green” etc.    It is amazing how our minds can find problems so quickly with everything, imagine a person comes in the room, and watch all the thoughts you have about this person.    Our minds might start with quick judgments, such as “she’s too small, wow look at her nose, he needs to shave,” and move on to judgments, such as “I wouldn’t trust him,” to even unconscious judgments that we don’t even see happening, such as this person reminds me of my father, so I am going to view him through a projection.     As you can see we can get into trouble very quickly by not understanding that our minds automatically look for problems in everything.     About 95% of the world believes in their minds to know the truth, and blindly let these judgments, create their reality.   And it is important to understand that judgments are simply problems that the mind has automatically created.      We can choose to see that our mind is just a machine and that in its’ functioning looks for problems.     When we know this, we realize that our mind has a program running that is not necessarily useful in most environments.    We can then see it for what it is and not for the truth of the situation. It is like realizing that if we hang out with a person who is negative all the time then we are probably going to be unhappy.    As we decide to take a step away from this, we take a step into the quiet that is already here.   We step into ourselves and see the world through the lens of quiet and spaciousness.    And this is a much different way of seeing the world.

Working with Pain can be a doorway to Peace.

 
Awakening often happens from fully and directly working with pain.     Pain, of any kind, can be a doorway into deeper parts of the self.    Often in meditation work, individuals focus on avoiding pain.   But for true change to happen pain must be transformed.

Embracing our Humanity

 
Embracing Our Humanity with Non Dual teacher and therapist Craig Holliday. http://www.craigholliday.com/ Craig is one of the owners of amaya and offers mindfulness based therapy at amaya. Craig also offers Skype sessions, retreats and workshops and meets with individuals from around the world who have a sincere desire to awaken out of our painful egoic existence and into this Beauty that we always already are. Craig began teaching after a series of profound awakenings with Adyashanti and Jon Bernie. for more info: http://www.craigholliday.com/

Working with Mindfulness

 
Mindfulness is being open to pain.    In this video, I describe how Mindfulness includes and embraces pain.    This is difficult because we are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain.    But the perspective of mindfulness does not push away or avoid any aspect of our experience.     Mindfulness is working with pain from an open and relaxed place, where we can see clearly our thoughts and fears, and experience them simply as that; without running away.    Pain has so much to teach us if we are willing.    And often what we find in the deep experience of pain is a deep truth.  

Video Introduction to Therapy


In this video, I explain my approach to mindfulness based psychotherapy.    As a therapist, I build on your inherent strength and work with mindfulness skills training.    In addition to this, we work with somatic psychotherapy; which means we use meditation as a tool to open to those areas in the body where we hold mental, emotional and physical pain.    In this deeper work, we focus on letting go and allowing the pain to move out of us.  

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an investigation of your self; through clearly seeing things as they are.   And to investigate in this way, we must be able to see without the clouded vision of our habitual mind.   In therapy, I work with clients to try to understand who we are.    The reason this is important, is because with out knowing who we are, it is difficult to build a healthy sense of self.    People mistakenly believe their thoughts and emotions to be their self.    However, these thoughts and feelings come and go, and their contradictions are often confusing.    In the process of therapy, we investigate who we are beyond thoughts and feelings.   This is our deep, quiet, essential nature.     And from this place we begin to choose which thoughts and which emotions we allow to play out in our mind and life.     This is mindfulness realized.    This is what we work on in therapy.

 

Mindfulness based psychotherapy builds on your inherent strengths and teaches mindfulness skills that empower you to meet the world from a deeper and more compassionate place.  Through working with this powerful counseling approach, you will:

 

  • Develop greater meaning and depth in your personal life and relationships
  • Meet life with awareness and mindfulness
  • Release pain and trauma from the past which contribute to unhealthy patterns in the present
  • Experience a deeper connection with your authentic self and in relationships
  • Develop communication skills to enhance relationships
  • Investigate patterns and beliefs that get in the way of living the life you want.

 

mindfulness based stress reductionWhether you are suffering in relationship to you work, partner, or in another area of your life, mindfulness skills root you in a truer sense of self, which generates peace and understanding.  From this place, you engage life honestly and have an expanded feeling of choice and possibility.  Mindfulness based therapy supports you in the practice of cultivating a deeper awareness that will begin to reduce stress in situations that are arising as challenges in your life.

We invite you to take the next step in living a more authentic life by offering your first session for free.  Introductory rates are currently available and sessions are offered by Craig Holliday, MA

 

 

Craig Holliday M.A., NCC
230 E. College Dr.
Durango, CO 81301
970-759-5829
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