IMG_0816.jpg
                “Caught by the Golden Bird.” Multi-media piece by Susan Audrey.

 

My Lyme specialist said he wouldn’t change having had Lyme, that it made him a better person.

Forget that! I thought. I want an easier way.

But as you know, we don’t always get to choose the life journeys that help us grow. We can, however, choose what defines us, and this health challenge is not my “story.” It’s a short chapter in my life –– and not the last chapter.

That doesn’t mean there haven’t been moments of frustration, fear, anger, grief, and hopelessness. Dealing with Lyme has brought me some of the darkest days I’ve known, but it’s also caused me to look harder for the light. It’s toughened me up, but also broken me open. It’s heightened my intuition and grown me a more compassionate heart.

If you’ve walked this path or are undergoing another health or life challenge, you know that though extremely difficult at times, if you’re open to it, such a journey can also be filled with unexpected sources of support, guidance, and love, which can appear everywhere.

For me, these gifts have come from friends and family members, who have listened endlessly and encouraged me to focus on how I’m healing –– but also reminded me that it’s okay to curse the bad days.

It’s come from strangers, who have shared their stories of how they got better, what they would have done differently, and what they’ve gained on this arduous journey.

It’s also caused me to lean more heavily on my own inner knowing, including the wisdom that comes from my nighttime dreams and the synchronistic moments (or meaningful coincidences) that pop up during the day, and seem to come much more frequently now.

Dreamwork has always given me reassurance that I’m not alone, that there is help all around us, and that we all have a higher Self, a soul-led wise one within us that knows what we need and how to find or create it –- to care for our body, mind, and spirit… or even that of others.

One of the most helpful dreams I’ve had during this difficult time showed me something I needed to do to accelerate my healing, something that has had a holistic affect and that I wouldn’t have found in a prescription bottle or at the acupuncturist’s office.

Here’s a snippet of it:

The Lioness That Ate the Dear

If you’ve ever had a lucid dream involving an animal, you know how powerful, and sometimes terrifying, it can be. And if that animal keeps reappearing in your dreams, and, perhaps, even in your life, you can bet that it’s showing up to help you. You’re being introduced to an ally, a helping spirit, even if it doesn’t feel that way at first.

In my dream

 The Lioness was running towards me as I approached my childhood home. She appeared to have descended from the surrounding hills and stopped short when we both noticed there was a dead deer in her path. I turned away assuming she was going to feed on the carcass. And then the dream became lucid, and I made the choice –– and was able –– to scale an 8-foot glass wall to enter the atrium at the entrance of the house.

 This is a mere glimpse into this dream, but it holds much guidance on its own. Exploring it myself, with a dreamwork circle I led, and with friends –– and tuning into the synchronicities linked to it –– has been truly empowering…

Here’s what I discovered:

  • The day after I had this dream, there was a report of mountain lion sightings 5 miles from my home.
  • In a dream, a lion on your property can represent your psyche warning you that, physically or affectively, you are identified with big cat libido and need to get some distance. The suggested resolution is to find a way to balance (within yourself) the creative aggressiveness and sovereign instinct cat libido represents –– and set healthy boundaries. (From The Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images.)
  • Cat represents an archetype associated with the feminine. In her book The Way of the Dream, Jungian analyst Marie-Louise von Franz describes the cat as a symbol of “independent femininity”:

“The cat in our country stems originally from Egypt, where it was once a divine animal. There, they had a cat goddess who was the goddess of music, sexuality, pleasure in life, and life-embracing feminine fertility. The cat, in contrast to the dog, has never sold its soul to man… In women’s dreams, therefore, the cat often is an image of something feminine, independent and sure of itself, just what modern women so often lack… The cat is not very amiable, but very true to itself.”

  • In an online dream course I was taking at the time, led by author and dreamwork expert Robert Moss, he synchronistically spoke of Lion as an ally and guide, illuminating the animal’s archetypal characteristics, which include finding and courageously using one’s voice –– with heart.
  • A good friend I went on a hike with shared about a chant she had been listening to honoring the Hindu warrior Goddess Durga, who rode on the back of a lion, combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity, and dharma to clear the way for good.
  • As I typed the title to this dream, I “accidentally” wrote “dear” instead of “deer.”

Weaving together these insights helped me to unveil what the Lioness had come to teach me…

I believe, in part, that she appeared to bring me courage and inspire me to speak up and take a stand for what I need and want in my life (with clear intention, resolve, and heart).

I also believe that she came to show me that my anger and frustration around my health challenge can be transformed into creative energy for “good” –– what I’d like to bring into my life. (An insight I happened upon when my friend mentioned the powers of the Goddess Durga who rode on the back of a lion.)

And, perhaps I was being shown (by my typo of dear for deer) that I’ve been allowing the Lion (or Lyme) to take what is dear to me.

Lastly, and most importantly, I find it interesting that I “escaped” to safety by jumping over a glass wall at the entrance to my childhood home. This gave me a sense of safety, while also allowing me transparency – to see the Lioness and allow her to see me. But it also put me in a “cage” and separated me from parts of myself –– sexuality, pleasure in life, and life-embracing feminine fertility (or creativity) indicative of the Lioness archetype.

As I explored how to bridge my dream’s wisdom into my everyday, I asked myself: Is this what I’ve been doing? Am I going to continue to allow Lyme or (the Lion) to cause me to live in this way? To this, I’ve developed a resounding No way!

 And I am consciously and actively reclaiming my life, along with my vitality, by embracing the ferocity of the Lioness within me, by opening to my feminine and creative impulses, and by using the fury behind my frustrations as energy to bring my dreams for my life forward.

Of course, these insights are the first glimpses of what this dream had come to share, and new insights and meanings will emerge weeks, months, even years from now –- as is the way with dreams.

Yet, I hope that through my sharing this dream with you that you, too, have discovered something new to help you along your life path. Perhaps you’re now inspired to look to your dreams for clues to your own healing, or to pay more attention to the animals that appear in your dreams. Or maybe a Lioness has already showed up in your dreamscapes and you now have an expanded view of the wisdom she holds.

IMG_0814

                                                A collage inspired by my Lioness Dream.

 

Animals can be loyal allies on our path to healing…

They remind us of our primal selves and shift our focus from our intellect to our bodies and innate instincts. By adopting the strengths and characteristics of our animal friends, we’re invited to feel into our visceral humanness and to remember parts of ourselves we may have forgotten or have not yet allowed to evolve.

Shortly after I had this dream, I did an exercise in which you “reenter” your dream through a self-guided meditation to dream further. I wanted to face the Lioness, befriend her, and discover more of what she had come to teach me. (This has been a part of dealing with Lyme as well. I’ve needed to face it, explore what it wants me to learn, and consciously work on releasing myself from it’s grasp –– all steps that have been just as important as the medical protocols.)

I have also been inspired by the healing energy of the Lioness to create art, which has unveiled even more insights and been an additional resource for self-healing.

And I have been calling on the Lioness often to help guide me on this tough journey, which is bringing more and more light and love into my life, and is, indeed, helping to mold me into the person my soul knows I can become…

If you are interested in exploring your dreams in a dreamwork circle with others or in a one-on-one session, you can find out more here. I am also happy to talk with anyone who is seeking resources for healing from Lyme. You can email me here.

Susan Audrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

80159df2fc20d33edd95d969c2031a27

Think back…

You can probably remember times, as a child, when a favorite friend visited and the two of you created together. Mud pies, dollhouse living rooms, puka shell and beaded necklaces.

I can remember a wonderful feeling of unity and heightened creative energy in the air during these get-togethers. Time flew by as our imaginations unfurled. I felt happy and fulfilled afterwards –– though I didn’t know what the latter meant yet. And, the bright memories of these shared creative sessions still surface from time to time, even now.

During a recent invitation-only workshop I led, The Art of Dreamscaping: Experience What Happens When Your Soul Paints, I had the honor of sharing in this kind of creative camaraderie once again.

We dream journeyed to the sound of a drum to seek guidance for each other –– a form of Active Dreaming in which, while awake, you allow your imagination to guide you and to form images in your mind that can help answer a question or manifest an intention.

We created collaged, painted, embossed, pasted-over and stripped “soul” paintings, which revealed more clues and enlightening insights from within –– each layer of our creations revealing more about our soul’s longing and how we might meet it.

We moved to music in the way our artworks were making us feel and added paint strokes that mimicked these movements. It was interesting to feel the feeling from within as it was transferred to our artwork in outward expression.

The air filled with the invisible fireworks of dream-powered sharing and soul-created expression as the group of kindred spirits left their egos at the door and allowed their wise inner guides to emerge.

From one woman’s art piece emerged a horse farm or camp as she sought insights into her future way of being of service in the world.

Here’s how she described her experience of her art:

From creating the piece through its stages, and also the body movement section we did, the feeling was plunging, submerging, swimming through currents, and propelled back out –– into the air. Rebounding. Birth through birth canal.

unnamed.jpg

Another participant watched as a Wise Master emerged in her artwork, which she saw as an inner guide, and she was pleased when a heart, representative of compassion, could be spotted in the Master’s face as well.

Here’s how she described her process:

The master’s face is like a heart and the heart is like a tulip. I love how we can keep engaging with this type of work and the art keeps on revealing new elements.  Such a rich process!

sylvia

Another participant found her art piece foggy and unclear when complete, so when she got home she added words of clarity to further unveil and affirm the intention she had come to the workshop to manifest.

FixedShashisArt82016.jpg

As is always the case in these types of dream-inspired “playgroups,” the day ended with the group feeling a closeness that was not there at the start. A new little community was formed.

Participants viewed each other’s artworks with open minds and compassionate hearts, sharing how they resonated with the images, colors and what was emerging, adding to the alchemical process that would continue even after they brought their soul paintings home.

Mine is still “working me.” As I catch glimpses of it –– I encourage all participants to “live” with their soul paintings for a while –– I realize I have actually covered key parts of my collage (representing parts of my life I’d like to evolve) with pieces of old, semi-transparent sewing patterns. Hmmm? Covering what I desire with “old patterns.”

Looks like there’s more to be revealed…

Join a San Francisco Bay Area Dreamwork Circle or receive one-on-one dreamwork guidance via Skype. Find out more here.

 

elen-ways-antlered-goddess

Our second “Engaging Both Sides of the Dream” workshop was in early October, and as happens when women gather in circle, there was magic, deep sharing, tears, liberation, joy, and exciting new discoveries as we stirred up the stardust in our souls.

Also, as is always the case, an archetype or two emerged, bringing the wisdom and power from our inner worlds to the outer world and back again, working us (as the late psychologist and author James Hillman believed) the way images do, when all the while, we think we’re working them.

This time, it was the Queen archetype who boldly took her stand –– in the offering of a rhinestone crown my co-leader brought to put upon our communal alter; in a waking dream of one of our participants, who envisioned her various personality traits as “Queens at the Roundtable” cultivating discernment around a pressing issue, the head Queen (her Higher Self) at the helm; and in the beautiful imagery that emerged for another participant, whose Queen’s crown transformed into antlers during an active dreaming exercise.

The Queen, we believed, had come to remind us to honor ourselves, to stand proudly in our power as women, while also permitting our gifts, what our hearts and souls are aching to bring out into the light of day, to emerge and be shared.

Yet, there was much more to be learned from the image of the Queen whose crown morphed into antlers. She inspired inquiry into which female animals actually do have horns. And synchronistically (part of the magic in these gatherings), another participant had a book with a beautiful photograph of caribou running through water (an extreme close-up that mainly showed the antlers). Caribou, we discovered, are a species in which the females have antlers. Another is the female reindeer.

So what has the Queen turned Antlered Goddess come to tell us?

After the workshop, I researched antlered females (of the human persuasion), and discovered Elen of Ways, an antlered Goddess, whose well-known statue in a British museum depicts her with reindeer antlers.

I also discovered a beautiful blog by a British writer and shaman who writes the following about reindeer:

Reindeer paths were some of the earliest track ways, and humans have followed reindeer, working with them for meat, shelter, clothing, milk, and dung to fuel fires, for millennia. The Sami people still do.  In ancient times our ancestors here in Britain also followed the reindeer… Our own Elen is the “Lady of the Ways,” as are the ancient trackways that Alfred Watkins saw and made famous in his book “The Old Straight Track”… about which he wrote “…imagine a fairy chain stretched from mountain peak to mountain peak, as far as the eye could reach …” 

Spirit Ways they call them in other places, Song Lines in Australia, the Wyrd in the Nordic tradition. Here in Wales they are called Sarn Elens. They are the fabric of the world, the Earth. They carry spirit, energy, life force; they connect wisdom sources – often springs and wells in Britain. They carry information. They are within the body of the Earth … and they are  within our own bodies, too.

It appears that perhaps the Antlered Goddess may have emerged in our sacred circle as a reminder of where true Queenly power originates ­­–– in our transformation into the Antlered Goddess, who knows the trackways of the reindeer and of her own soul.

Come explore your dreams with us.

tara-aerial-1

The Hill of Tara in Leinster, Ireland.

The life and passion of a person leave an imprint on the ether of a place.
Love does not remain within the heart,
it flows out to build secret tabernacles in a landscape. 

–from “Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom” by John O’Donohue

I recently visited several sacred sites in Ireland with a group of kindred spirits. We traveled to this land, ever rich with the fecundity of spring and the healing energies of its ancestors, for many reasons. Some, to shake loose from stuck places, reconnect with nature or explore family history. Others, whom which I was vaguely aligned, seeking healing for themselves, loved ones, and even for our planet.

I was not completely sure why I was drawn to this particular country, named for the Gaelic Goddess Eriu, for this purpose. My ancestors are Polish, as far back as we can trace.

What I did know is that I was called to go. For years, flyers promoting tours, movies showcasing its verdant countryside, enchanting stories about the land’s fairy realm, and my fondness for the charming accents and kindness of its people beckoned.

I had also discovered the writings of Irish poet, philosopher, and scholar John O’Donohue, whose books about Celtic spirituality had found a special place in my heart. His book Anam Cara, which means soul friend, has become a favorite.

And, I had the good fortune to discover a wonderful travel company out of England called Journeys With Soul, which provides tours that take one off the beaten path into the true heart of the land.

So I traveled over 6,000 miles from my home in Northern California to explore and experience this vibrant, so-beautiful-it-makes-you-cry land, seeking healing for myself and a long list of friends and loved ones.

Carrowkeel in the Bricklieve Mountains.

Carrowkeel in the Bricklieve Mountains.

And, shortly after I arrived, it became quite evident why I’d chosen this country, this place.

The dreamer in me started to catch synchronicities that were emerging all around, as my journey became a “waking dream.” (A year before, I had created a myth, comprised of images, characters, and events that came to me in my nighttime dreams and through self-guided meditations, as the core of my thesis for a depth psychology graduate program.) And there, in a country I’d never been to, these dreamscape images were appearing before my eyes.

My traveling mates, however, believed that I might indeed have been there before –– in another lifetime. You’re remembering a past life.

What felt real, in my bones and in my heart, was that my dreams had called me to this vast and sacred place, because my soul knew where I needed to go to heal old wounds and seek healing for those I hold dear.

And this was most certainly a place of healing. The sites we visited were so alive with the energies of the ancestors –– their wisdom and compassion –– that you could literally feel waves of healing energy flowing through your body as you stood within them. It was like experiencing impossibly powerful Reike.

The stone circle at Carrowmore.

The stone circle at Carrowmore.

Sitting atop a rock in a Neolithic stone circle in Carrowmore, I put forth my intentions for the physical and emotional healing of friends and family members back in the states, and I had no doubt that the ancestors who had built, visited, and helped preserve this 5000-year-old sacred site were at work, holding us all and sharing their love, still alive in the surrounding earth, the stones, even the buffeting winds.

When I opened my eyes, a raven sitting on a fencepost several yards away watched me and continuously cawed beneath cloud-dotted, crystal-blue skies, calling me to him – just as the Black Spirit Bird calls the heroine in the myth I wrote.

An ancient hawthorn tree at Caldragh.

An ancient hawthorn tree at Caldragh.

I had also written about hawthorn trees, which we found surrounding the early Christian graveyard of Caldragh on Boa Island. I’d never seen a hawthorn tree before, and didn’t know that this ancient thorny species is a Celtic symbol of cleansing and preparation and also of Christianity’s struggle to suppress Pagan beliefs and celebrations.

And as we wandered through the medieval Franciscan Moyne Abbey (1462 A.D.) in County Mayo, I could have sworn that I smelt the musty scent of incense intermingled with wood smoke in the raindrop-glistening rooms of the roofless ruins. And in one long-abandoned space where great piles of crumbled stone crosses and fallen cornices lied, my camera continued shooting several photographs I had not planned on taking, producing a sepia shot I didn’t know was possible – light, that hadn’t been there, pouring through the pane-less window in the photo.

In the Franciscan Moyne Abbey (1462 A.D.) in County Mayo.

The photo that took itself in the abbey in County Mayo.

Yet, most magical was the Hill of Tara in the ancient capital of Leinster, where as Irish myth goes, the king undertook the Ban Fheis, or sacred marriage to the Goddess in order to secure fertility and wellbeing for the land and his people.

Tara is at the center of the “golden triangle” of fertile land that stretches from Ireland’s east coast, between Dublin and Dundalk. And although it was the place of many battles and other masculine conquests –– and boasts a very phallic-looking Stone of Destiny –– it was also a royal sacred site, which today, for those who seek it, holds the powerful healing energies of the Great Mother.

As I lay still beneath the sun in the soft green of Tara’s earth-formed mounds, creating a circle with the rest of my travel companions, I felt cradled, as if in the arms of a strong, yet tender-hearted, wise woman.

And as more scenes from the myth I had written appeared before me in my waking dream – a portrait of my character (exactly how I’d described her) in a small café; a raven following me on a walk to The Well at Tara, where I blessed a moonstone I’d purchased; the thatched-roof cottages we’d driven past; the rushing Boyne River, so much like the one my heroine crossed –– I knew with a viscerally-felt certainty that we are held, all of us, in the hearts of those who have come before us, even if we are not of their flesh and blood.

The portrait in a cafe in Tara (the image of my myth's heroine).

The portrait in a cafe in Tara (the image of my myth’s heroine).

The healing I sought came in the form of a radical reclamation of the sacred feminine, and the nudging open, even further, of my heart. It was what my heroine had sought in her mythic journey and it was what I, unknowingly, had come for.

And this healing was for more than myself. It was for my mother and daughter, and my female ancestors, all the way back to those who had fled our homeland of Poland to survive wars and poverty, and even further back than that. It was a breaking out of Patriarchal molds and a receiving and celebration of the Divine feminine and her nurturing, loving, and healing ways.

On the last day of the trip, as I stood on the Hill of Tara, I could feel myself rooted, as if I’d become a part of the great, grassy mound, the buffeting winds having no power to sway me, and I drew through the soles of my feet from the sacred energy of the land –– for myself, for those I know and don’t know, those I love, and for our planet – so in need of healing – and I knew that I’d never be the same.

— Susan Audrey

Discover how to follow your own waking dreams…

Journeys With Soul Tours

1412x1600_14607_Amelia_Garrick_s_Grave_2d_illustration_painting_portrait_flowers_girl_woman_roses_picture_image_digital_art

Under the summer roses

When the flagrant crimson

Lurks in the dusk

Of the wild red leaves,

Love, with little hands,

Comes and touches you

With a thousand memories,

And asks you

Beautiful, unanswerable questions.

-Carl Sandburg, Under the Harvest Moon

Dream wisdom does not only come in the night. Waking experiences, explored as nighttime dreams, can bring us surprising insights – evoking tears and full-body goose bumps of recognition as we realize that a higher, wiser teaching spirit has been at play.

I recently experienced such a revelation when I followed a desire to dig up a 30-year-old rose bush in my front yard, a wild, red rose that had twisted its thorny tendrils around a delicate lavender rose bush called Angel Face. Slowly, over a decade, the red rose with its hardy stems and simple, sparsely petalled blooms had seemingly consumed the pale purple beauty.

I discovered the wild rose thriving in the angel rose’s place when I returned to live in my home after 12 years away. Yet, my desire to pull out the red rose bush was not about its acquisition of the garden space or any deeper motive I was aware of at the time. I had purchased a new Meyer lemon tree and that spot was the best full-sun area in my garden.

So one hot spring morning, I grabbed my shovel, put on heavy-duty gardening gloves and dug… and dug… and dug up the old red rose bush. It took over an hour. At times I was on my knees, cutting through the decades’ old roots with pruning shears and tossing hefty pieces into a growing pile.

My gardening task had become an obsession with pulling out every last old root and banishing my garden of this crafty infiltrator. And I was well aware that this was a metaphor for wanting to completely uproot and toss some of my own roots. Painful memories from my youth and my past marriage, even parts of myself I’d grown to loathe.

It felt amazingly liberating to pull and cut at the thick, woody roots of the old bush, as if years of angst, frustration, and anger were being eradicated along with them. My body felt strong and agile, rejuvenated by physical exertion and the heat of the sun, and I could sense an inner expansiveness occurring. I had spent the last six months making this old house mine again, and this felt like yet another conquest – but this one was different.

When I took a break to go inside for a glass of cold water, I noticed that the song on my online radio was Send Me on My Way by a band called Rusted Root. It was one of those sychronicities that cause me to look at waking experiences as dreams. I knew that this rose uprooting was more than it appeared, and I opened my mind and heart to the fact that there would be soul insights to come.

After more clipping of thick, woody roots and down-on-my-knees pulling and tugging, I had the old bush out, for the most part, and sunk the root ball of the dwarf lemon tree into the hole – out with the old, in with the new, or so I thought…

The lemon tree had the weepy, I’ve-just-been-transplanted look, which I kept an eye on for the next several days, but it never disappeared. In fact, it got worse… and worse. Leaves yellowed and dropped; its fragrant, white blooms curled. So I moved the temperamental tree and replaced it with a barely surviving passionflower vine that I had all but given up on, appropriating a wooden trellis-like insert from an old screen door as its support.

It too looked limp and shocked by its new environment. But I kept an eye on it, watered it every other day, and it started to perk up. Yellowing leaves gave way to succulent green shoots that unfurled into healthy new leaves. Curly tendrils wound around the makeshift trellis, and in a matter of months, the fat buds of passionflowers began to form.

I glance at the vine daily as I leave my home, waiting for the blooms –– the exotic, spiky wheels of purple, backed by waxy, alternating pink and white petals, green sepal centers. I’ve always been in awe of these seemingly otherworldly flowers.

But, none of the plump buds have opened yet, and, to my dismay, multiple shoots of the wild red rose bush have emerged around the vine! And a quite persistent one is growing between the trellis and the house, thriving on the little water it must be getting when I water near it. Even a shoot of honeysuckle, which I planted over 30 years ago, when I first moved into the house (the vine long gone from that spot), has sprouted as well.

I realized that there was no stopping the growth of what thrives in that garden spot, as there is no way to deny what is buried in our souls.

And I knew that I needed to look at this gardening experience as a waking dream and ask what parts of me these dream elements may represent. I could open the door to self-discoveries my day-to-day egoic mind would not as easily and quickly – or perhaps ever – access.

As I explored my experience as I would a dream, I saw that the wild red rose part of me is what grows naturally, what can thrive under any conditions, and what survived when the angelic, lavender rose couldn’t. Being angelic is not natural; it’s not human, and aspiring to it has not served me.

And, when I opened the huge “Book of Symbols: Reflections on Archetypal Images” (the therapist’s guidebook to the images and symbols that arise in our dreamscapes), I rediscovered the rose’s universal significance as a symbol of love: “what or who we love in the present; the one we loved and have lost; and the longing for something nameless – embodied in the form and color of roses.”

The latter could not better describe what the waking dreamscape of the small, sunny garden plot in my old, yet new again, yard has revealed to me: My heart has been holding all the bittersweet memories of my earlier life in my home (married and raising my children), all that I love and hold dear now, and a longing that gnaws at my center for more than all of it –– yet I’ve been trying to deny this longing.

Just as I tried with all my physical strength and inner will to banish the wild, naturally occurring rose from my garden, only to have it grow back, hardier and healthier than ever, I’ve tried over the past few years, stifled by grief and fear, to live a life free of the enmeshments and disappointments of human love, only to watch the love that I am and need to give and receive emerge from the stillness and darkness of my closed heart and survive, reaching for the light anyway.

As the Rusted Root song that played the day I dug the rose bush up goes, “Well pick me up with golden hand… and send me on my way, on my way.”

Interesting, too, that when I was leaving work the evening before writing this, a fellow staff writer with a newly broken heart said to me: “I picture us helping each other with our gardens.”

images-4

I didn’t begin paying attention to my nighttime dreams until my dreamscapes started showing up in my waking life.

The first instance was fairly benign: I dreamt of a man with dark hair, wearing a white, button-down shirt, standing to my right and talking on a pay phone (yes, this was awhile ago). And the next morning, after I dropped my kids off at daycare, I saw this exact scene: the same man, same hair, shirt, and pay phone. This really got my attention!

I found out later that these are called precognitive or premonition dreams –– they show you the future. I wasn’t sure why this was happening at this time in my life. I was in my thirties and a single mom of two grade schoolers. It wasn’t until years later that I learned that our nighttime dreams are more abundant and more easily remembered during difficult and transitional times.

Curiosity inspired me to read about, research, and train in dreamwork in the upcoming years, and most importantly, to keep a dream journal. I discovered that by exploring the images, metaphors, and feelings that emerged through my dreams, I had access to a wondrous, self-revealing and self-empowering stream of wisdom. One that’s always there –– and free! And, using this simple approach to cultivating “inner knowing” has helped me to better navigate my life and to get my creative juices flowing for all kinds of creative endeavors, including writing and creating art.

Dreamwork helps us to jumpstart our creativity and keep it flowing in several ways. One is by providing a sort of emotional and physical house cleaning. The messages from our dreams can give us clues about how to work through emotional baggage we may be carrying, remedies that can heal our physical ailments, and ways we can let go of beliefs that may no longer serve us –– freeing us up to give our full attention and energy to embracing our creative sides. If we’re not obsessing about a love we lost or worrying about what to try next to soothe a backache then we’re more present when we sit down at our computer to write or in front of a canvas to paint.

Our nighttime dreams also offer us an amazing resource for creating –– both as actual themes to work with or metaphorically, as clues for how to proceed with our work. When we take actual images from our dreamscapes and write about or draw them, they come to life in ways we could never have imagined, revealing things about us we may have never considered. Yet, as we dive in to explore further, either with words or through visual art, what emerges can often feel quite familiar, like switching the light on in a forgotten room of a home we’ve always known. And rather quickly, we can find ourselves in that delightful and precious flow state from which our best creative work emerges.

Viewed metaphorically, our dream images can also guide us in choosing subjects and approaches for our business writing and projects. We just need to do a little more digging to unearth these gems. For example, if you need to write a promotional piece or an article, you can “seed” your dreams the night before to discover how to start. This is an exercise in which you clearly ask for the information you are seeking by writing your request on a piece of paper and placing it under your pillow before you go to sleep.

I know that to some, this may sound like an exercise in wishful thinking (one you might share with a child), but through years of experience working with dreams and much research in the approaches of renowned philosophers, psychologists, and authors, including pioneering dream analyst, Carl Jung, I’ve come to trust this process whole-heartedly and have seen amazing results transpire for clients and dreamwork circle participants as well as for myself. The answers to these nighttime inquiries will come, and they arrive in the form of metaphors, symbols, and, sometimes, strong emotions.

For example, perhaps you’ve asked your dreams to tell you which approach you should take in writing a piece for a client, and a tiger walks through your dreamscape, slowly and methodically circling you. As you learn to work with your dream images and to trust the insights your dreams bring, you’ll learn to see such a scene as a clue, a suggestion as to how to proceed with your writing… slowly, methodically and going around and around your subject to see it at all angles. Or, the tiger itself could suggest the tone of your piece –– should it be colorful, lean, and wild? Should it be written from a hunter’s point of view (metaphorically, of course). You’ll know. Your gut and an inner aha! will be your guides.

Dream images have led me to the best remedies for physical and emotional challenges; they’ve helped me to change my perspective about a situation to one that is more beneficial for all involved; they’ve provided a heads-up on traumatic events, so that I could handle them with greater ease and skill, and they’ve kept my enthusiasm for life (and it’s many dimensions) alive.

This is just a small taste of how exploring the images, symbols, and themes from your nighttime dreams can inform your writing and other creative projects – including your life. You can learn much more about dreamwork and how it can jumpstart your creativity at my upcoming Writer’s Forum presentation, “Learn How to Access Your Infinite Creative Flow Through Dreamwork,” on Thursday, June 18, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at The Petaluma Community Center, 320 North McDowell Blvd., in Petaluma. You can find out more here.

"The Women's Dance" Image from sourcememory.net

“The Women’s Dance” Image from sourcememoryDotnet

I am lucky at the moment to be participating in a sacred women’s circle for homeless women in Sonoma County as part of my internship for graduate school. We share our nighttime dreams, images and realizations that bubble up during group meditations, as well as our inner strength, which flows naturally, creating the collective power that magically pools when women hold sacred space together.

These circles are led by author Anne Scott of Santa Rosa, who has worked with homeless women for years, lovingly helping them cultivate the power of the sacred feminine within.

When a polished heart-shaped stone is passed from woman to woman to signify that it is their turn to share, some readily open up, sharing current challenges, such as trying to enroll in continuing education classes, looking for a job, finding a place to sleep while working evenings away from the shelter, and getting adequate care for health issues.

Some may follow a thread of memories back to childhood or to more recent experiences of how things used to be: glimpses from the past of loving childhoods and close-knit families, now long gone, or of not-such-loving-families and the pain they hold from earlier times, or of the homes they once had and what they loved and miss about them.

Others, so closed down from the trauma of their situations, remain silent, speaking only with their eyes, downcast, or their bodies, arms folded, hinting at their justifiable unwillingness to open up, their aversion or anger.

Yet, there is little, if any, evidence of self-pity, and for many—no matter what they are facing—there is an apparent effortlessness in the way they hold a loving, open space for the other women in the group, their compassion generously flowing forth—even for me, who has shared of family challenges and work stresses. There is often so much love in this room, so much feminine power, the nurturance and receptivity inherent in women.

One woman, who grew up in an abusive family, shared that she did not get the unconditional love and acceptance she needed and has suffered from low self-esteem and a lack of self-value. But, she added, looking around the circle into the eyes of the others: “I see my inner beauty reflected back to me by the beauty inside all of you.”

When faced with difficult losses and transitions, it is my experience that, if we allow it, we are broken open and truly learn compassion, for ourselves and others.

Many of these women are at ground zero, their hearts softened by immense hardships—maybe after first turning to stone or being closed and defended.

In the book “Body of Wisdom: Women’s Spiritual Power and How it Serves,” author Hilary Hart writes about women and healing: “Women need to access the sacred place within—which has never been harmed—in order to heal what is broken. We need our wholeness to relate to life as whole. We need our natural purity to purify what has taken place. We need our magic in order to know the world as magical. We need our capacity to hold all life as sacred in order to sanctify the past and create the future.”

Through the denial, anger, and grief that can cloud one’s life as the result of loss, we are urged to go within, to that soul place that remains untouched, from which emanates our true self and remains our essence, even when we feel we have become lost—along with our material and physical losses.

Many women who arrive at these circles clouded by the storm of loss and grief seem to find this untouched place in themselves—if only for a moment—in the stillness of the group meditation and the nurturing presence of the women around them. And, each week, when I have the honor of joining them, I am reminded of the sacred place within myself as it is reflected by the sacred place within each of them.

–Susan Audrey, CHT

Information about Susan Audrey’s circles for women can be found here

Hands Holding ButterflyPhoto from achievementsanctuary.com

We are all intuitive, though we may not be in touch with this state of inner knowing and expanded consciousness as often as we’d like. Yet, if we can remember our nighttime dreams—even little pieces—we’re catching our intuition rising from our unconscious. The trick in learning how to experience intuition through dreamwork is to hold these dream images, symbols, and themes gently.

Imagine holding a butterfly in the palm of your hand and marveling at its beauty and at the gift of connecting with nature so intimately. You can feel the tickle of its almost-weightless body on your skin, and just as you begin to take in the vibrant colors of its powder-soft wings, it alights and you watch it flutter away.

This is how I believe a dream should be held—with reverence, curiosity, and tenderness. The time we spend “studying” it should be focused but relaxed, as too tight a grasp may damage its tender wings (its message that has come from deep within).

Also, holding too tightly to one particular meaning can close our mind to other possibilities and stifle the dream’s essence. There needs to be room for the delicate fluttering that is the intuitive message of our night wings.

Here are a few suggestions on how to let your intuition emerge through dreamwork:

  • Merely “be” with your dream without trying to figure out what it may have come to tell you.  Write it down in your dream journal. Create a simple drawing of the image that evoked the strongest emotional response. Meditate on your dream allowing it to gently rest within you.
  • Be open to an array of possibilities as to what your dream could mean. Oftentimes, the first interpretation we glean can be based on wishful thinking or our fears. (To gain a more neutral perspective, share your dream with a trusted friend or join a dreamwork circle that provides a safe and supportive container for sharing.)
  • Wait for an inner response that signals a new understanding. Jeremy Taylor, renowned dreamwork facilitator, instructor and author of many books on dreamwork, recommends waiting for an “aha” that resonates within you as you are surprised by new information your dream has revealed.
  • Mentally scan your body for a possible somatic cue that may be your personal compass to self-discovery. David Sowerby, Ph.D., a Bay Area university professor, expert and consultant in the areas of intuition, hypnosis, and dreams, shares in his book “Intuition and Dreams: How to Realize Your Healing Potential in All Areas of Life” that when a new insight enters his mind, he experiences a tingling sensation that feels like waves of energy passing through his body.
  • Precognitive dreams can help us perceive our emerging intuition. Robert Moss, a world-renowned dreamwork expert and author of many books on the subject, urges dreamers to notice the synchronicities (meaningful coincidences) in their daily lives that connect dream material with waking life.

I personally know I’ve experienced an intuitive “hit” when the images in my dream show up in my waking life the very next day. In these instances, I trust that my nighttime dream images and their exact daytime replications appearing before me are most certainly working together to get my attention about something important in my life. Yet, I hold these images lightly to allow them to evolve and provide me with even more insight as I change and grow with them.

Image from Rumiart

Image from Rumiart

      Some people say that they don’t dream. We all dream, some of us just don’t remember our dreams.

There can be many reasons for this. One common dream blocker is a chaotic waking life. Dream expert and author Robert Moss suggests clearing out daytime stress and anxieties to pave the way for remembering nighttime dreams. Of course, we can’t control what happens around us, but we can learn to control our reaction to it, and we can practice meditation to help ground and relax us, which, for many, can help amplify dreamtime.

Ways to Perk Up Dream Recall

  • Keep a dream journal. Writing down any dream you remember, even from long ago, and placing the journal and a pen by your bedside with the intention of remembering your dreams can often be enough to perk up your psyche and begin remembering your nighttime dreams.
  • Incubate. Before you go to sleep, make a conscious intention to remember your dreams. You may even write down this intention and place the piece of paper beneath your pillow.
  • Don’t open your eyes. During the first 10 seconds after you have woken, that “twilight” period between sleeping and fully waking, keep your eyes closed. Think of this as “locking” the dream into your mind for safekeeping.  You may even find that you remember more of your dream if you keep your eyes closed as you reach for your journal and scribble down your dream.
  • Don’t move. When you awake, attempt staying in the same position in which you awoke. When you reach over to grab your dream journal, try to do so with as little movement as possible, return to your sleeping position, and continue to keep your eyes shut.
  • Hold the dream. As you notice you are awaking and as you are practicing keeping your eyes closed, lay still and focus on the dream, working to keep all other thoughts at bay as long as you can. Even if you only remember a part of the dream, one image, keep focusing on it, “look” at it intently in your mind’s eye, say what it is out loud. Whatever you can do to create a bridge between the unconscious and conscious mind will help with recall.
  • Wake up naturally. Of course, not all of us have the luxury of waking up leisurely without the persistence of an alarm. But if you need to be awoken by an alarm, have it nearby and situated so that you can turn it off with your eyes closed. Also, don’t wake up to music or the radio, as someone else’s voice will most likely cause your dream to dissipate before you can recall it.
  • Count your feelings. Perhaps at first, you may not remember your dreams, but you may wake up “in a mood” or feeling differently than you have been feeling in your waking life. Take note of this in your dream journal, as this dream “residue” can be the beginning of dream recall, a clue as to what you experienced in your dreamscape.
  • Value Images. Even if you only remember part of your dream, an image, symbol, or one short scene, write it down. This is a good sign, you are on your way to remembering more.
  • Give your dream a title. Titling your dream by simply calling it the first thing that comes to mind can be revealing, as it often guides you to the dream’s most potent part and can help you remember more about your dream as you write in your journal.
  • Induce. Some dreamers swear by mugwort and B-vitamins, praising their ability to induce dreaming and heighten vividness. (It is important to check with your doctor or herbalist before trying any new remedies or stimulants.) Also, if you are suffering from nightmares, you may not want to induce or amplify your dreams. B-vitamins before bedtime can also keep some people awake, so if you’re going to try them for this purpose, it’s best to take them earlier in the day.
  • Record your dreams. If writing down your dreams causes them to float away, try lying still with your eyes closed and “saying” your dream into a small, handheld recorder. You “catch” your dream and reinforce your memory by saying the dream aloud. Handheld recorders can be found for about $20 and can be especially helpful if you’re recording a dream in the middle of the night. Many dreamers have told me that they get a lot more details about their dreams using this method. Some have also noticed that they hardly recognize their voice—it’s the “dreamer” in them that’s speaking.

I hope you find these tips helpful. Our dreams are potent with so much wisdom, insights that can help us live happier and healthier lives. Avid dreamers and dreamworkers use their nighttime dreams to discover the answer to questions they are pondering and to catch a glimpse of a future event. Dreams can also prepare us for something we will be encountering in our waking lives.

Find out more about dreamwork and joining an upcoming dreamwork circle here

Susan Audrey, CHT

The “end of the world” has come and we are still here, as most of you predicted we would be.  Many of us believe that the significance of 12-21-12 was that it marked the end of the 5125-year Mayan calendar and the beginning of a new Mayan calendar—and a new era.

“It is the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood . . . the end of hatred and the beginning of love, the end of lies and the beginning of truth, the end of sadness and the beginning of joy, the end of division and the beginning of unity,” according to Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, who addressed the subject at a United Nations general assembly.

Consciousness advocates view this new era as a time of transition in which Earth and its inhabitants will undergo a positive spiritual transformation. I whole-heartedly embrace this theory. How can it hurt? After all, if we expect more awareness, more love, more truth, more joy, and more unity, and view others as holding these qualities, perhaps we will open up and relax a little more and more fully radiate these same qualities ourselves.

As William Arthur Ward, one of America’s most quoted writers wrote: “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”

Whether or not this new era of positive transformation is considered “valid” by mainstream standards, I am choosing now and in the coming New Year to be a part of the flow of anticipated new positive energy, goodwill, and connectedness. And I invite you to join me in expecting and giving “better,” in participating in making the invisible, the true warmth of our hearts, more visible through our actions and our deeds and allowing the beauty of our true essence and the true essence of others to shine.

How do the numerical configurations and symbols from the Mayan calendar play into our personal lives? What can they tell us about our past and the year to come?

As a dreamworker and dreamwork guide, I view the Mayan calendar’s numerically organized system of symbols and their meanings, which illuminate our personality characteristics, as offering additional insights into what’s stirring beneath our conscious, waking-mind. And, if we line up these Mayan offerings beside the messages from our nighttime dreams, I suspect that we may discover more about what our dreams have come to tell us, more about what’s brewing in our unconscious, and more about who we truly are.

Visit this page  and simply type in your birthday (day first, then month and full year) to discover what the Mayan calendar may illuminate for you.

Wishing you a Happy Winter Solstice and New Year to Come,

Susan Audrey, CHT

(Click here for information on how to join an upcoming dreamwork circle and on how dream work helps inspire, inform, and enrich your life.)