Meet our newest core teacher, Tobi Holloway, CMT-200. Tobi is passionate about taking good care of ourselves, each other, and our planet. She is especially interested in helping people identify and express their strengths and values so that their engagement in life is as personally rewarding as it is effective. Here is a bit about her mindfulness journey:
“Where I’ve Been
Like many others, when I wanted to escape my own mind and circumstances, that’s when I leaned into meditation – not for insight but for relief. I remember seeing two friends in similar mind states turn to alcohol and drugs, and I wanted the same escape without the new problems those options would introduce. I read books and journaled and followed guided meditations. It got me through a very difficult patch.
I continued until I hit my first real obstacle: I started to feel like I was practicing self-absorption and wallowing. It stopped feeling like a healthy undertaking. I was conflicted because all of the positive psychology and wellness sources that I followed, gushed about mindfulness meditation. I wanted to be a meditator, I just didn’t like the effects my practice was having on me.
Then I discovered MAM, wise and knowledgeable teachers, and a compelling community. Only because of that, I found my way past the navel-gazing to a beginner’s mind and into a much broader and deeper and skillful world of mindfulness practices.
One of the things I was learning at MAM was how to be less reactive – creating a space between stimulus and response. Unfortunately, I didn’t know what to do with that space. I was less emotionally reactive which was helpful, but I was also often stuck and conflicted about how to move forward. More space wasn’t always what I needed and often led to passivity. I began my quest to identify and clarify my values to guide my decisions. I took an ACT course at MAM that included a values card sort and the Impermanence Project which included the VIA survey, and I devoted much time to simply drafting and editing my good intentions. This has been another critical piece of my puzzle.
The next big hurdle for me was a consistent sitting practice, which I wanted but didn’t have. I did regularly attend community practices and go to yoga classes, but that wasn’t quite hitting the spot of a personal practice. The solution came when my sister (who lives in California) and I decided together to subscribe to a meditation app. We have been picking a course together, practicing with the guided meditations on our own during the week, and then discussing it in a weekly phone call ever since. That hits the spot of daily practice! I can have short, professionally curated lessons and guided practices, at my convenience, in private, and still have accountability knowing my sister is doing the same thing. Plus, there is something about sorting it out as you go with a fellow traveler.
With my personal practice tied to an app and no in-person offerings available at MAM, my treasured sense of community weakened. I looked forward to the teacher training with a deep longing for sangha.
Mindfulness Teacher Training
I struggle to even begin to describe what this experience has meant to me.
It was a lesson in trusting emergence, and what emerged was transformational.
Perhaps I can highlight a few moments that blew my mind.
Angela offered a Creating Safety practice. This was my introduction to the idea of creating inner safety and co-creating outer safety. I saw this embodied throughout the training.
During one of our many, many rich discussions in class, I shared my concern that “alleviating suffering” sounded to me like merely helping with the second arrow rather than reducing the real harm being inflicted in the world by first arrows. Tracy offered that real harm is inflicted by people who are acting out of their second-arrow suffering. This suddenly deepened my understanding of “revolution from the inside out.”
Nan led a “Just Like Me” meditation that she adapted for mindfulness, and when she offered the phrase, “this person has longed for community, just like me,” I felt moved and deeply connected.
Tracy reminded us that when we bring to mind the people and processes and resources that result in the food in front of us, even though we have not experienced any of that directly, that is not adding “a story” to our direct experience; rather, our food simply appearing in front of us is the fiction. Mindfulness is not limited to direct experience or even the present moment; it’s about waking up to the truth.
Where I Am Now
I have a strong foundation of clearly articulated good intentions, a daily sitting practice, regular mindful movement, an exceptional cohort, an in-person community practice, and a commitment to trust emergence.
I learned to make my offerings invitational. I hope to offer guidance that is warm and welcoming, which to me means finding a balance between providing options and providing structure, and between using language of inclusivity and using down-to-earth vernacular. I learned that these balances are going to be different for each teacher and will appeal to different students. I understand that training our minds necessarily includes challenging our minds so there will be times when we are temporarily overloaded. It is my intention as a mindfulness teacher to explain the risks and teach the zone of presence, empowering participants to follow their wisdom and adapt or opt out of any guidance.
Where I Am Going
I want to serve the “revolution from the inside out.” I want to help people identify and clarify their values with a special focus on teasing apart natural drives from highest values. I think mindfulness is a foundational skill for discerning between miswanting and wise wanting, which I believe is essential for solving the root problems our world currently faces.
I hope to teach beginner courses that introduce mindfulness practices as well as exercises to hone in on values and good intentions – to help people create a pause between stimulus and response and to know what to invite in during that pause. I also aspire to offer classes in developing healthy habits, incorporating resilience tools, and cultivating beneficial qualities that serve those values and good intentions.
As people wake up to the reality of climate change, I hope to offer courses that help them engage actively in solutions. This would include connecting with what is theirs to do, working with difficulty as they go, and mindfully opening up to the joy within the work. I hope to teach ongoing courses that help people create inner safety so that they can wisely put themselves out there, taking action for what matters most, and always have that inner safety to touch in with and come back to.
I am deeply grateful to my MAM teachers, my cohort, and the whole MTT experience.”