As a practitioner of both dreamwork and meditation the two have become increasingly integrated for me. Dreams want me to feel into and stay with the supportive and/or difficult material they can reveal. Meditation has taught me how to take a breath into whatever arises and to stay. Both want me to stay long enough to heal all the way through. I feel incredibly supported by both these practices, indivudally and as they come together as one.
While there are volumes of research and books to study along the way with both practices we don’t need be experts on either to begin to find healing through working with our dreams and meditation…that’s why they’re called practices not perfections. In fact, we might get lost in our heads and not drop as we might into our hearts…as Stephen Levine teaches…a descent. What we do need is a willingness to show up for ourselves and with whatever arises. And that is as challenging as it is simple.
How many times in a dream moment did I used to jump away from the feeling and begin talking about it…the history of it, analyzing, interpreting it? And my dream practitioner would gently say, “let’s go back to the dream moment” encouraging me to be in the feeling…feeling it. How many times do I now say this to my own dream clients.
How many times did I (and still do!) find it difficult, even physically painful, to sit in meditation as monkey mind, uncomfortable with silence and with what is arising, tries to convince me to move onto something more ‘productive’? How many time do I have to remind myself and my meditation students to ‘go back to your breath.’
Neither practice is a practice of talking about…neither dreams and feelings…nor meditation. Talking about the practices sounds like we’re practicing but we aren’t. It can fool us into thinking we’re doing depth work when we’re not.
Both practices, dreamwork and meditation, are experiential. We know when we are in the love, the pain, the joy, the sorrow…the silence…it is visceral. And it is that visceral quality, that embodiment, that helps us heal the wounded parts of ourselves.
Meditation teacher Achaan Chah teaches speaks of this as “taking the one seat.” He says, “Just go into the room and put one chair in the center. Take the seat in the center of the room, open the doors and windows, and see who comes to visit. You will witness all kinds of scenes and actors, all kinds of temptation and stories imaginable. Your only job is to stay in your seat. You will see it all arise and pass, and out of this, wisdom and understanding will come, taking the one seat.”
Image: Be Still by Elizabeth Gadd
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 www.maryjoheyen.com or www.thenaturaldream.com