dreams, we have access to a personal doctor who makes house calls, provides an
impeccable diagnosis of our physical, emotional and spiritual condition, and
doesn’t charge a cent. If we are not in touch with our dreams, we are missing
out on a tremendous resource for self-healing. Here’s why:
body talks to us in dreams. It shows us what it needs to stay well and previews
possible symptoms long before they manifest. If we recognize these messages
from the body, and act on them, we may be able to avoid painful and costly
medical intervention further down the trail.
are also experiences of the soul, and show us the spiritual sources of wellness
and illness. The Iroquois say that dreams reveal the “secret wishes of the
soul” – as opposed to the narrow agendas of the ego. If we honor the soul’s
purpose, as revealed in dreams, we move towards health and balance. In
traditional Iroquois practice, it is the duty of the community to listen to
dreams in order to help the dreamer to identify and honor the wishes of the
dreams provide us with fresh imagery and energy for self-healing.
going back inside our dreams and consciously reshaping our inner dramas, we may
be able to help shift the body in the direction of health.
invite us to reclaim vital soul energy lost through pain or grief or addiction.
Absence of dream recall is sometimes a symptom of soul loss. Dreams in which we
encounter a younger version of ourselves or return again and again to earlier
scenes from our lives may be invitations to bring home parts of our energy and
identity that went missing.
can bring through dream guidance for others as well as ourselves.
give us a direct line to sacred sources of guidance and healing. In sacred
sleep, the ancients not only sought diagnosis and healing images; they sought a
direct encounter with the Divine Healer. We can ask for dream healing in the
how to bring the energy and magic of dreams into daily life, in four easy
a date with your dreams
you go to sleep, write down an intention for your dreams. Make this a juicy intention – eg “I would like to be
healed” or “I want to meet my soulmate” or simply “I want to have fun in my
dreams and remember.” Have pen and paper ready so you can record something
whenever you wake up. Write your dream in a journal later, give it a title and
see if you can come up with a personal motto or “bumper sticker” distilling the
message or quality of the dream.
dreams with a partner
dream sharing is wonderful fun, builds heart-centered relationships, brings us
fresh perspectives on our issues and helps to nudge us towards taking
appropriate action to honor our dreams. You’ll want to begin by creating a safe
space where you and your partner will give each other undivided attention.
Whoever is sharing a dream should tell it as simply and clearly as possible,
giving the dream a title. The partner then asks a few simple questions. Start
by asking how the dreamer felt when she first woke up – the first feelings are
usually an excellent guide to the general character and urgency of the dream.
Ask the dreamer whether she recognizes any of the elements in the dream in
waking life, and whether any parts of the dream might possibly be played out in
You are not
going to tell each other what your dreams mean. You don’t want to steal the
dreamer’s power, or to lose the energy of the dream in verbal analysis. You can
offer helpful, non-intrusive feedback by saying to each other, “If it were my
dream, I would think about such-and-such.” Finally, you’ll want to ask the
dreamer, “What are you going to do to honor this dream?”
Dreams require action! If we do not do something
with our dreams in waking life, we miss out on the magic. Real magic consists
of bringing something through from a deeper reality into our physical lives,
which is why active dreaming is a way
of natural magic – but only if we take the necessary action to bring the magic
through. Keeping a dream journal and sharing dreams on a regular basis are
important ways of honoring dreams and the powers that speak through dreams.
Here are some more suggestions:
create from a
turn the dream into a story or poem. Draw from it, paint from it, turn it into
a comic strip
take a physical
to celebrate an element in the dream, such as wearing the color that was
featured in the dream, traveling to a place from the dream, making a phone call
to an old friend who showed up in the dream
use an object or
create a dream talisman to hold the energy of the dream: A stone or
crystal may be a good place to hold the energy of a dream, and return to it.
use the dream as
a travel advisory: If
the dream appears to contain guidance on a future situation, carry it with you
as a personal travel advisory. Summarize the dream information on a cue card or
hold it in an image you can physically carry.
go back into the
to clarify details, dialogue with a dream character, explore the larger reality – and have marvelous fun!
back inside your dreams
started living in rural New York,
I dreamed repeatedly of a huge standing bear. Though the bear never menaced me,
it made me uneasy because it was several times my size. I realized that I
needed to face the bear and find out why it kept appearing in my dreams. I made
it my intention to go back inside my dream, and “brave up” to whatever I needed
to confront. I stepped back into the dreamspace – as you might step back into a
room you had left – and the bear was there, vividly real and tremendous. There
was nothing cute or “made-up” about this encounter. I had to push myself to
approach the bear.
When I found the courage to step up to the bear, he embraced
me and we became the same size. He showed me we were joined at the heart by
something like a thick umbilical, pumping life energy. He told me he would show
me what people need in order to be healed. I later discovered that the bear is
the great medicine animal in Native American tradition, and that the most
powerful healers of the Lakota are the members of the Bear Dreamers Society,
composed of those who have been called by the Bear in dreams and visions. Today, when I lead a healing circle, we call
in the spirit bear.
Our dreams may offer us gifts of power and
healing that we can only claim by going back into the dreamspace and moving
beyond fear or irresolution. We may need to go back inside a dream to overcome
nightmare terrors, to clarify whether the dream is about a literal or symbolic
car crash, to talk to someone who appeared in a dream, to reclaim our own lost
children, to use a personal image as a portal to multidimensional reality – or
simply to have more fun!
reentry is one of the core techniques that I teach and practice. If you
would like to experiment, start by picking a dream that has some real energy
for you. It doesn’t matter whether it is a dream from last night or from 20
years ago, as long as it has juice. Get yourself settled in a comfortable,
relaxed position in a quiet space and minimize external light. Focus on a
specific scene from your dream. Let it become vivid on your mental screen. See
if you can let all your senses become engaged, so you can touch it, smell it,
hear it, taste it. Ask yourself what you need to know, and what you intend to do inside the dream. And let yourself
start flowing back into the dreamspace…
In my Active Dreaming workshops, we use
shamanic drumming - a steady beat on a simple frame drum, typically in the
range of four to seven beats per second –to help shift consciousness and
facilitate travel into the dreamspace. The steady beat helps to override mental
clutter and focus energy and intention on the journey. If you are doing dream
reentry at home, you may wish to experiment with a drumming tape or soft music.
The applications of the dream reentry
process for healing are inexhaustible. In this way, for example, we may be able
to travel inside the body and help to shift its behaviors in the direction of
health. In her wonderful novel for kids of all ages, A Wind in the Door, Madeleine L’Engle describes a journey into a
world inside one of the mitochondria of a sick boy; when things are brought
into balance inside a particle of a cell, the whole body is healed. As we
become active dreamers, we can
develop the ability to journey in precisely this way. Our dreams will open the
We will practice these techniques and explore further paths of adventure, creativity and healing in my new online video course for The Shift Network, The School of Imaginal Healing. Classes begin on November 20.
Art by Robert Moss: (1) "Serpent Staff in the Sky" (2) "Dancing with the Bear"