Before I met Aaron Walker, I immediately filed him under spiritual guru. I was wrong. As a certified life coach, Aaron teaches us to analyze our thoughts and to expose harmful patterns.
Among other things, he specializes in meditation, EFT tapping (emotional freedom technique), dream work and overall personal development coaching. His many classes on hiyeralignment.teachable.com cover a range of approaches to personal development.
Calmly, he refuted my presumptions. Aaron’s work through his brand HIYERAlignment is neither secular nor spiritual, neither mundane nor metaphysical. Throughout the course of our interview, I gained a more expansive portrait of his work beyond succinct Instagram captions or YouTube videos.
Whether he’s promoting meditation or lucid dreaming, Aaron provides tools to his clients. These tools allow you to move beyond your limited perception and to evince the cyclical suffering in your life. In sum, Aaron pushes us to confront our broken relationships, self-destructive tendencies and mental health issues. I started by asking what inspired him to become a life coach. Blake Dysinger: What inspired you to become a certified life coach?
Aaron: "This [life coaching] has always been something that has been very active in my life. I would help my friends and my family with little goals they may have. They’re like, 'I don’t know why I keep getting stuck'. Many times people can feel frustrated, especially if that change they really want to make is going to make a significant impact on their overall life or their wellbeing. It could be money for someone. It could be relationships for someone else. I did all of these things for myself. So all of the things I teach, I do. My sister was like, 'you should think about being a life coach'. But I’m a very private person. So I try not to be in other people’s business because I don’t like people being in my business. So I was like, 'I really don’t know how I feel about that'. And then, I had other friends who said the same thing….Then, yah know, COVID happened. Everybody’s at home. I'm like, 'why not'. Let me see what the certification process is like. So I went through it. And then I got my certification in instructional design, so that's teaching adults and adult learning methodologies so they can stimulate the information...so they kind of work hand in hand. That's how I got started."
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Blake Dysinger: I wanted to also talk about manifestation, since it seems to be a huge part of your work. How much of your reality is dependent on your mindset? And, in your view, how can manifestation change that reality? Aaron: "All of our perceptions and judgments are based on our mindset. In my courses, I always give the example of a red flower. You look at a red flower, and you ask yourself, 'where is the red?'. Science tells you there’s no red out there [outside your perception]. The red is the perception of that energy… if you think about a bug, does the bug see the red? If a dog sees that flower, does the dog see red? So, something that seems so real to you, and so obvious, it really is your mindset and the way that your brain perceives it." Blake Dysinger: And there was a second part: how can manifestation change that reality? Aaron: Manifestation is a topic a lot of people have been talking about recently. In the last ten years, it’s become more and more popular. But you manifest everything in your reality. Once again, because it is based on your perceptions. The manifestation process is a way of changing your perception, changing the way you relate to yourself and the way you relate to others.
Blake Dysinger: I wanted to also discuss lucid dreaming. For our audience, can you describe what lucid dreaming is?
Aaron: Lucid dreaming is the phenomenon of having waking consciousness in the dream state, so you are aware that you’re dreaming. Versus, in non lucid dreams, you are not aware that you are dreaming while you are dreaming.
Blake Dysinger: In one of your YouTube videos, you mention wake-centricity, this tendency in western society to devalue dreams. But, how can analyzing dreams benefit people?
Aaron: "Not necessarily analyzing the dreams, but engaging in lucid dreaming can help individuals. In the dream state, your unconscious mind is set free. We take this waking consciousness and believe it’s the highest level but it's not. This is really the lower level [of consciousness]. We put all of these parameters on ourselves [in the waking state] according to how we need to be to function in society. All of that goes away when you’re asleep. In the lucid dreaming state, the conscious mind has direct contact with the unconscious mind. It’s a very powerful way to make a shift in your thoughts or release something that’s not working for you.
Sometimes we make an intellectual decision: “Oh, I want to improve my relationships.” But we still have these emotional and energetic attachments, these habits, that keep us stuck doing that old thing. So for me, this is a way of us breaking that up and establishing something new."
Blake Dysinger: You often mention that recalling dreams is critical to reaping the benefits of lucid dreaming. But, if you’re anything like me, you forget almost all your dreams, or you don’t dream at all. How can you recall your dreams? Why do some people not dream?
Aaron: "So everybody dreams; it’s a natural function of the mind. There are only a few reasons why someone would not dream, such as some mental disorders which'll be more rare. But then there are things like depression, anxiety or even like bipolar disorder, but even then some people are still going to dream. You may not have good dream recall. It could be due to the wake-centricity. Our culture doesn’t really value dreams in the way other cultures do. If you want to improve your dream recall, there are certain things you can do like keeping a dream journal. Native Americans use talking sticks. If you only have a fragment and if you’re keeping a dream journal, you can start from there and write down that fragment….I recommend sobriety. A lot of people drink or they smoke weed. Those things are going to severely impact your dream recall."
Blake Dysinger: Give us a brief rundown of how to understand and interpret the images in our dreams. What are some recurring dream images you see most often in your clients? Aaron: A lot of people go online, and they look up what their dream symbols mean. Dream symbols come from your consciousness. They come from your experience. Even the term dream interpretation…it’s an interpretation. There could be a million. What I advise my clients to do is to breakdown their dreams. Write down the room you’re in, the color of the walls, who you’re with, how you’re feeling. Then make associations.
Blake Dysinger: Okay. Well, this is a fun question. If it’s true that we refuse to see things when we’re awake, in the waking world, do most people ironically live their lives with their eyes closed? Aaron: "Yes, all of us do…we perceive things in duality, and duality means there’s always a fracture. There’s always your eyes closed to something until your eyes aren’t closed. If you’re here [living in the waking state], your eyes are definitely closed."
Blake Dysinger: You also teach guided meditation courses. There’s competing western and eastern views of meditation. I apologize, since this is a very broad question. But what is meditation to you? Aaron: "So I compare it [meditation] to someone saying “I play sports.” It’s a very general term. There are lots of different types of activities and exercises that are classified under meditation. So honestly, that’s why when I teach meditation, I pinpoint the exercise or the activity. Because when people say I meditate, I don’t know what that means. For me, I practice Shamatha meditation. It’s a practice of the mind. A lot of people think it’s a spiritual practice. It’s not. It just trains the mind. It does lead to altered states of consciousness. If you consider that spiritual, then it’s spiritual. When you are able to focus on a single point…a lot of our perceptions begin to break down. In this state, you can also examine things more clearly…in a way this state of consciousness will never be able to perceive. It also relieves stress, which is an immediate benefit.
Blake Dysinger: What is something you discovered about yourself in this altered state of consciousness? Aaron: "Um…I’ll give you a big one. So people hear about karma in the west. We personify karma. Karma is not a person. Karma is like tendencies. One of the biggest ones is karma of the body. Your propensity to believe that you exist in a body or the karma of the self. Like this one entity. So, when you’re in a meditative state and your mind is clear, say you decide you want to focus on the body. Some say, "I am the body", but what do you mean. Where in your body are you? Are you in your big toe, that's apart of the body. Is it in your hair?"
Blake Dysinger: Yeah…based on my rudimentary knowledge, what you’re saying sounds very reminiscent of Buddhism. Aaron: [Laughs]
Blake Dysinger: But would you say the concepts you teach originated with Buddhism?
Aaron: "These practices of meditation didn’t really originate with Buddhism…a lot of these concepts aren’t really religious. It [meditation] is an investigative practice. Meditation allows you to see for yourself what’s there. We’re not telling you anything. A lot of people think this is a spiritual thing, it's not spiritual. These are not Buddhist practices or Buddhist ideas. Anyone can practice these concepts. A lot of clients approach me to help with that...and in a way these practices are Buddhist, but I just try to shy away from that because I feel these concepts have practical applications in life outside of getting in contact with the divine or anything like that.
And I think as far as personal development and self transformation, yeah you might want to develop your focus and develop your mindset if you feel like you want to improve in your relationships or improve your money habits or improve your health and fitness because you want to develop thoughts and beliefs and patterns of behavior that support this goal. But, if you are not aware that you are engaging in thoughts, beliefs and patterns of behavior that are contradicting this goal you are never going to be able to move forward, you are always going to be stuck. So a lot of the work I do it incorporates mindfulness and meditation and practices like lucid dreaming and dream yoga...but I think that's what sets me a part from other people because I do believe in the power of these exercises.
If you really want to know what's going on with your focus and your not seeing it, ok well stop drinking, stop smoking for two weeks and look at your dreams and see what's coming up.
Your probably gonna be seeing some pissed off situations in your dreams that could probably clue you in of what you feel but you're are not acknowledging that you feel it. This is what I call energy work."
Blake Dysinger: You kind of touched on this before. But do you consider your work purely practical and secular?
Aaron: "No, if you are a practical, secular person, you can get what you want. If you are into esoteric type things, then you can get what you want…I think of my work as a tool. You can use a tool for anything. I try to present the teachings in the most authentic way that I can and tell the person you have to make it so that it works for you."
Blake Dysinger: That was really my last question, but I wanted to give you a chance to promote some of your courses, so tell our audience a bit more about the classes you teach. Aaron: Yeah, so I have a lot of classes. If you go to hiyeralignment.teachable.com, I have a lot of courses geared toward personal development and self-transformation. Many of them are very practical like the Learning Myself workshop series. It’s a five-day series, and it just teaches you the foundations of how to develop a self-care practice, how to engage with your hobbies and interests. 'Opening Your Heart' is a three to four week course. It gives you tools to analyze your relationships and how you can define what you want in a relationship. I also have other courses like on EFT. There’s ones on lucid dreaming. There’s probably at least 12 or 14 classes. So you can dive as deep as you want, and I give you ways to go beyond even what I’ve taught as well." If you want to improve your life materially, emotionally or spiritually, please check out the courses Aaron has to offer at hiyeralignment.teachable.com, and go follow him on Instagram @hiyeralignment.