Dreamwork as Spiritual Practice

Tag: community

A Pilgrimage and A Quest

[Note from Kirsten: I’ve been away for the past two months, walking across Spain and participating in a dream conference in the Netherlands, while guest blogger Tina Tau has brought her gentle wisdom and beautiful writing to Compass Dreamwork. Now, since I still need a little time for rest and reflection before I’ll be ready to fully resume my own writing here, Holly Jarvis—my business partner, and beloved life partner—has offered a lovely article on personal transformation and communal connection…]

By Holly Jarvis, Guest Blogger

LightSong Fire mediumIt might seem that a pilgrimage or a quest would be a deeply individual, personal experience. Yet, the power of those experiences ripples out, touching the lives of family, friends, and community.

This past year brought big changes for both Kirsten and me. Kirsten lost her parents and I left my job and career. We’ve both been looking for meaning, a new perspective not easily accessed in ordinary consciousness or busy lives. And that brought each of us to commit to a transformational life challenge over the summer—for Kirsten a pilgrimage walk across Spain on the Camino de Santiago, and for me a vision quest.

As we talked about our hopes and concerns for our adventures, we discovered how similar they are. Kirsten’s pilgrimage would involve being far away from home, encountering physical hardships, and finding inner strength and spiritual renewal in unfamiliar circumstances. My vision quest will put me alone into a small area in a forest with no food, water or shelter for four days and four nights, also experiencing being away from home, encountering physical hardships, and finding the inner strength to complete the quest.

Like Kirsten, I am looking for a way to wake up, to become more lucid in my waking life by moving into a dream-like state of openness. By taking myself out of my everyday world and entering a situation that is so outside-of-the-ordinary as to be almost surreal, I hope to gain access to an experience of imagination, allowing this dream-like state to help me reassemble my perspective, understanding, and sense of life as it is happening in “real time.”

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Living Up To Our Dreams

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We discover where we are going, together, as we go…

So here’s the question I’ve been asking myself ever since the inspiring experience of the IASD (International Association for the Study of Dreams) conference: How do we apply the experiences of our dreams to our ordinary lives in such a way that they will make a difference in the world?

When I work with individual dreamers and small groups, I am constantly aware of how the dreams I hear are changing my life. Each of the people I meet with for spiritual direction or dreamwork is genuinely grappling with profound spiritual challenges that are both personal and universal: How do I cope with the speed and complexity of the modern world, without losing my ability to be fully present in the process? How do I share my unique gifts and skills creatively—and is what I have to offer truly wanted or needed? How do I respond kindly and compassionately to others when I am feeling frustrated, impatient, or overwhelmed? What is my responsibility to myself, my family, my community, and ultimately, to all beings? How do I cope with feelings of fear, anger, loneliness, exhaustion, grief, apathy, despair? Where do I belong?

These and other such questions resonate with me as I hear them coming from others. When I work with others to see what light their dreams may shed on these questions, I find echoes in my own life and in my own dreams. We may be working with one person’s individual life issues and dream images, but at the same time we are addressing life issues and dream images that have meaning for all people and the planet as a whole. Dreams take us to the heart of the matter at hand, and at that heart level the things we have to learn extend far beyond us as individuals. Continue reading

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