Natural Dreamwork with Mary Jo

the sting of the anemone…

(encore post)

Dream – I’m with a group of unfamiliar people spelunking in caves and I’m excited. It’s dark, mysterious and eerie. Someone is holding a lantern and we are exploring. The caves are spacious and go on forever, deeper and deeper. We have a guide, 60’s, long white beard, wearing an overcoat and a brimmed hat. He seems like a sage and I trust him. He’s an old hand at this; he knows the caves. He shows me a pool, 2 feet in diameter, shallow, clear trickling water. There are beautiful, brightly colored anemones with waving tentacles clinging to the pool wall and little fish, beautiful tiger fish, vibrant colored spines, almost as if they’re lighting up the pool. I feel in awe of the beauty.  The guide says, “Put your hand in the pool.” I’m scared to do it but I do because he told me and I trust him. My whole arm is in the water and I feel electric stings all over my arm and even my legs which aren’t in the water. I feel shock, pain, am afraid, “Oh fuck, I shouldn’t have done this.” I pull my arm out in pain.


Dream Medicine: Be in the moment of hearing the sage say, “Put your hand in the pool”…how you trust of him and you do it. Feel your fear and the pain of the electric stings…and don’t pull your arm out…turn to the sage who supports you in this place and as you can take a breath into the pain…and then another.


It makes sense to pull one’s hand out of the pool full of stinging anemones, doesn’t it? And this dreamer, one of my dream clients, does what most of us would do; he pulls his arm out of the water and away from the pain. We don’t want to feel the intense sting of pain. The sage in the dream, this inner teacher, tells the dreamer to do the very thing that he must know will cause the dreamer pain. Why would he do that? Why would I give a dream medicine that asks the dreamer to not only return to the place of pain but to stay there…take a breath into it?


Because this dreamer, as are many of us, is already in pain. He learned to be numb to it, to shut it down. He, as many of us do, has been pulling his hand out of the pain pool for most of his life. When the original pain began in his childhood the dreamer believed he was alone, that there was no understanding and support. He learned the cavalry wasn’t coming and there truly was no one to whom he could turn. And quite remarkably, maybe even miraculously he learned to survive. He adapted to his environment which meant closing off from his feeling self…his soul. Often times it is not the traumatic event that traumatizes us. What traumatizes us is that in that terrible moment…those many terrible moments…we felt abandoned…we believed we were alone…


Our dreams, in their wisdom, take us back to these feeling places, to help us recover these parts of ourselves to which we lost connection. It can take some time and at first we may need to just feel our fear…our fear of pain, our fear of being afraid. This dreamer was in a place where he was beginning to trust his inner teachers and so followed his guidance…and then reacted as he had been to conditioned…to pull back from the difficult feeling.


Pain is part of the feeling palette of soul. The soul feels everything and if we’ve learned to shut down to difficult feelings such as pain, loss, grief and fear, then we are also shut off from other parts of our soul…and we no longer feel whole.


Our dreams remind us again and again that we will feel pain, we will feel fear…and as we learn to trust these feelings…let them move through us in their own wisdom…allow them to teach us what it is they want for us to know…we also feel more deeply true love, true joy…our connectedness and our wholeness.


This dream invites the dreamer into his pain…no longer alone. He is invited to feel his pain with the presence and support of his inner teacher. This is the healing medicine in this dream…to take a breath into his pain, to turn and feel the support for him, to begin to recover his capacity to be with all of who he is and this helps heal him, helps return him to wholeness.

Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or video conference. Learn more about her work with dreams at