Natural Dreamwork with Mary Jo

tales of the big cats…part one

making peace with the tiger…
Back in the 90’s I was a co-leader of three day meditation retreats. Most of the days were spent in silence but there were a few moments when we had the opportunity to speak with one another.  
One of the retreatants was a former monk from Thailand and we spent some time speaking about our meditation practices. I was eager to learn about his training, how that was for him and what I might learn. He shared that the young monks would have to spend hours in meditation, often overnight, sitting in the jungle.  
“Aren’t there tigers in the jungle?”  
“How do you meditate when you know you could be attacked by a tiger?” 
His answer became a teaching for me…
“You make peace with the knowledge that the tiger is going to eat you.” 
He didn’t say that he didn’t feel fear…he did. 
He didn’t say he was going to tame either the tiger or his fear. 
He was willing to feel the potency and reality of both. 
He breathed into them…just one breath…and then one more breath.  
Now, I’m not suggesting that we develop this kind of skillfulness of testing a tiger in our waking reality, but how many dream tigers do we flee from? How often in our dreams are we being pursued by animals, people, forces of nature in the form of tornadoes, waves and earthquakes…and we run away…and never get the chance to learn what it is they have to teach us about the nature of fear and about ourselves.. 
What if…just once…we didn’t run? We may run in the dream but upon awakening we can return to that moment…and stop and turn to what is pursuing us and let our fear have its rightful place in that moment. We don’t have to try to evoke the feeling…the very act of turning towards starts to release what wants to be felt. To take a breath or two or three and feel into what it is our dream tiger is trying to teach us here in the moment and how we learned (often times for very good reasons) to be afraid, how we have been running away from our fears our entire life…and in doing so we have lost connection to our true selves…our soul selves.
When we are willing to experience the tiger fear that prowls through our lives…when we acknowledge that we will be eaten by the tiger…we can learn more about the tiger and about who it is we truly are…we can trust the fear and let it reveal the gift hidden in that feeling.

With love, Mary Jo

Mary Jo Heyen is a Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients throughout the country and abroad in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at her website: or on her Facebook page, ‘Mary Jo’s Dream Page.’

2 thoughts on “tales of the big cats…part one”

  1. Yes! Mary Jo, I’m grateful for your gentle wisdom here, thank you. I’ve found that increasing my own tolerance for the feeling of fear (even moving toward it), while staying present and attentive, has led me to some of the most meaningful experiences of my life, both in dreams and awake.

  2. Thank you Kirsten…what's sweet is I felt the same gentleness when reading some of your writings on your website, Compass Dreamwork. As challenging and as fierce as our dreams may be, underneath is also a fierce love desiring our wholeness.

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