What arises on the zafu, the meditation cushion, also arises in our dreams and it can be difficult material. As both a meditator and dreamworker I often integrate the two. The two practices inform each other, my dreams deepening my sittings and my meditation supporting me to be with the material that comes in my dreams….to take one more breath in this place…
When I was training in Zen meditation one of my teachers shared something that had a profound affect on me. We speak of the thought stream, the endless narrative of the mind. This teaching was a bit different. It says that in between the end of one thought and the beginning of another thought is an infinitesimal space. As we deepen in our sitting practice the gap slowly widens and down inside that gap is silence and presence where there is no movement of mind. Hard to explain, once it is experienced we know it. The gap widens and our capacity to simply be in the silence deepens. It is one of the treasures for me of meditation as it creates a spaciousness that we can carry into our day helping us to be with ourselves and others not from a place of reaction but rather awareness and choice.
This is the image I hold as I work with dreamers…I’m looking and listening for these infinitesimal gaps in the dream that I want to widen and explore with the dreamer.
There may be a space…an infinitesimal gap…the frequent inexplicable shift from one scene to another. This is always a place I would want to invite the dreamer to stay a bit long. What was that moment in the dream where something is moved over so quickly that the whole dream location changes? Most often it is a feeling that the dreamer doesn’t want to feel.
There may be a space…an infinitesimal gap… between words that hides a feeling. Again, here is where I would slow down the dream and leave space for the gap to widen…for something to rise and reveal itself to the dreamer. It may be a memory. Most often it is a tender feeling of love or pain, joy or sorrow, fear or vulnerability.
There may be a space…an infinitesimal gap…between a physical gesture…a turning away…a choosing to speak or not speak. We widen that gap by turning back, speaking or not speaking…and again space is made for the tender feeling to arise.
As with the spaciousness that meditation can bring into our day as we widen this gap to deeper capacity of silence and presence, so does the spaciousness of presence arise from the widening of our dream gaps…and in that space, too, we are aware that there is so much depth to who we are…that we do indeed have choice about how we want to be present in the world.
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