With the Coronavirus Pandemic, many of us have felt a radical rupture from our old life. While this has affected each of us in different ways, I believe most of us share a sense of living in limbo. We wait, hoping between death of the ‘old way’ and birth of the new. In this intense period of loss and transformation, our capacity to listen to our dreams is as important as it has ever been.
As Rilke wrote, You must give birth to your images. They are the future waiting to be born. Fear not the strangeness you feel. The future must enter you long before it happens. Just wait for the birth, for the hour of the new clarity.
But experiencing our images requires a body, not just a mind: Rilke’s metaphor of birthing implies as much. We respond to our dreams with all of our senses: Whether feeling a lover’s embrace, plunging into a beautiful seaway filled with whales, hearing the rumble of an approaching storm, or feeling the breath of a giant animal that has pinned us to the ground: we need our body to enliven our images.
Here we arrive at the crux of the difficulty attending to dreams during periods of stress. When chronically stressed, we raise the drawbridge and take refuge in our heads: we disconnect from our bodily experience. When our nervous system goes into overdrive, we forget that our body can help us restore balance and reconnect with a wisdom deep within us. This wisdom includes our feelings, our dreams and the images that emerge spontaneously during periods of reverie, meditation and artistic expression. Our dreams want to bring us back to ourselves. Dreams integrate our bodily senses with our feelings and our deepest knowing. As we reawaken trust in our body’s capacity to hold our feelings without falling apart, we are enlivened, strengthened and can open to new and creative possibilities.
There are many many ways to cultivate a loving, gentle connection to our bodies, including dance, Tai Chi or Yoga and a thousand other body-based meditation practices accessible through the internet. As a place to start( or a supplement to what you already do), I offer you a short guided meditation:
Keren Vishny originally trained as a physician, and practiced Internal Medicine for 10 years before retraining as a psychotherapist and NaturalDreamwork practitioner and teacher. Her exploration of her own dream has led to the re-emergence of her poet, in hibernation since age 14. She is affiliated with the CG Jung Center in Evanston, as well as the Marion Woodman Foundation.