Natural Dreamwork with Mary Jo

the feeling under the reaction…

When we’re willing to take a deeper look inside at what may be keeping us from our wholeness, our connection to soul, it is difficult.  The dreams don’t care if they step on our toes and scuff our polish. They just want to be in a depth conversation with us. How do we look at these stuck ways we behave and not go to shame, not give up? Can we learn to feel the pinch to our ego and take a breath into it…stay a moment longer?

One way I found for myself happened unexpectedly, years before I formally began my training in Natural Dreamwork. I have found for me that it helps if I can keep a sense of humor with those behaviors of mine that are…shall I say icky? One night I found myself caught in the viselike grip of a jealousy. I didn’t want to feel jealousy but couldn’t’ find my way out…so I sat in meditation… breathing…letting go of the story and the fight. It was really hard to stay with it but I did.

Suddenly in my mind’s eye was an image…a pudgy little dragon…huffing and puffing as she walked over and plopped her sorry little dragon bottom down beside me. She had a fretted brow and I couldn’t help but laugh. Here was what my jealousy looked like when I wasn’t fighting it…under all the tight, resentful, maneuvering energy that goes into being jealous was this tender vulnerability.

Through my work with dreams I’ve since come to the beautiful recognition that underneath our jealousy is our desire…a desire which can seem too vulnerable to feel, too tender and raw, so we cover it over and make it about others and get lost in story.

I made a drawing of the dragon and kept it near my meditation cushion. A few years later I walked into a small art studio and there, sitting on a shelf, was my exact pudgy dragon, with the addition of little dragon toes painted pink.  I felt so received in that moment. She now sits in my midnight loft and reminds me that under all my stuck places is a little dragon. How can I not feel love and compassion for all the broken parts of myself in that moment?

I remember Ram Dass speaking about his own stuck places. He calls them his schmoos, “Oh, here comes this schmoo again.” And it’s true…I believe these parts of ourselves will always rise…they may have less energy but they will rise. And when they do, can we bring tenderness and kindness to ourselves in our stuck places? If so, then we also make space for other things, such as acceptance, humor and a lightened attitude about stepping into work with these often difficult parts of ourselves and others.

With love, Mary Jo

(Image: Mary Jo’s Dragon by artist Jan Igaki)

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 or

1 thought on “the feeling under the reaction…”

  1. This is such a truly wonderful post, Mary Jo. I love that pudgy dragon! Your insights into relating to our own “icky” energies are so wise and kind. I’ve been experiencing my own little dragon this week—coping with “injustice” and my resentful, furious, frustrated and self-righteous responses… Perhaps I should see my inner raging as a wet little salamandar who keeps bursting into flames, thinking that her own furious indignation will somehow punish others when it really only punishes herself (me). Bless her heart. And many thanks and blessings to you!

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