Dreams come to us at every age and every stage of our lives, with a desire to be in conversation with us, to teach us and to heal us…if we are willing to be in relationship with them and listen to what it is they want to share. Dreams at each stage of our lives matter yet those that come as we are dying have a special poignancy and invitation. As we are loosening connection to our ego and our body, it seems that there is a space made for something deeply spiritual to enter and to midwife us into death.
My dreamwork practice includes working with the dreams and visions of those in hospice and their families. It is a privilege to be with someone in their final days or hours. My time with them may be to sit together in silent mediation, holding hands, breathing together, being together with no agenda. It often includes listening to dreams or visions they are having and to step in with them to explore what is happening. Dreams and visions can offer so much healing and release as one is at the crossroads between life and death. Often times a hospice patient may hold back sharing their dreams with family members for fear of not being believed or being told ‘oh, it’s just a dream.’ For a dreamwork practitioner, the phrase ‘oh, it’s just a dream’ doesn’t exist. As one who has experienced the presence of the numinous both in waking life and in dreams, I recognize that we are in the presence of something greater than we are…wiser than we are…and I trust that what is happening is coming from the deepest place of spiritual connection. I have the privilege of being present and witnessing this sacred meeting between soul and source.
During a morning meditation I was reminded how my first experience of being with the dying in this way began with my own spiritual teacher, Meldy. This brought tears to my eyes as I realized what a great gift she had given me. I met Meldy in 1973 when I was 24 and she was 62. I remained her student until her death at age 97, when I was 59. It seemed an unusual teacher/student relationship as she lived across the country and we were only together a handful of times, yet the depth of love and connection I felt for her wasn’t affected by miles. We spoke often. She taught me to meditate. She taught me healing mantras and how to work with light energy. She taught me about spirit guides and ways the universe works and how the soul grows. Her greatest teaching was about love…how we are all so loved and so treasured by the divine, even in places we can’t love ourselves. She taught about love in such a way that it became embodied in me…healed places in me. During the last few years of her life, her health was failing, her mind was failing…and our conversations changed. As this was happening our roles changed. We would still have quiet conversations on the phone..but more and more she needed my presence, my capacity to be there for her.
My final conversation with Meldy was as she was actively dying. She was speaking to me excitedly. I could tell she wanted to share so much here at the end…but her speech was garbled, incoherent. I let her speak for a long time. Even though I couldn’t understand her words, I understood her intention and her heart. Then she got quiet and I said, “Meldy, you’ve been my teacher for so long, have taught me so much…let me speak to you now…” And I spoke to her of so many things, my love for her, the spiritual gifts she gave me…of her approaching death and that it was okay to leave. A few hours later she died. And I knew there was a final gift she gave me…that even though she was dying…I knew how to be with her. She had taught me how to be with myself and others in our lives…and now in our deaths.
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