A Hymn From My Heart: Healing and Help From a Lucid Dream
Recently, in an exchange between myself and one of our DreamStar Community members we recognized and acknowledged how dreamwork and dream sharing has the capacity to “keep on giving.” It is my hope that my sharing here will be supportive in some capacity to your own process of healing and unfolding, particularly as it relates to dreamwork. (See DreamStar.Community)
I’ve been going through a bit of a personally challenging period lately, yet soldiering on. That is, until the inevitable “last straw,” which was, typically, not in itself overwhelming. Concurrent with both external and internal challenges, I’ve also been processing multiple streams of learning. I believe this brief, but very lovely lucid dream came to offer integrative support, insight and guidance when I needed it.
As a set up for appreciating the integrative nature of this dream, let me briefly outline several divergent threads that were artfully interwoven for me by this dream:
—I grew up loving Jesus, supported by a grandmother who also loved Jesus and embodied His Graciousness, as well as the primary messages of Grace and Love that were a portion of my early church experience at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.
—I’ve been blessed to have multiple profound experiences of Christ, some including music. He’s a living Presence to me.
—Lucid dreaming has also been a portion of my life since childhood.
—Recently, like others, I’ve been touched and inspired by The Dreams That Shape Us podcast (Season 3, Episode 1), which featured Scott Sparrow speaking on experiences of Light in dreams.
—As the primary host to DreamStar Community, and following some conversation with Scott about this subject, I then added the Dreams & Spiritual Practice “space” to our DreamStar Community, to be developed further, and which I’ve been “percolating” on.
—I’ve had a previous Light dream involving my heart. (DS Community members see posting in “Impactful Dreams.”)
—I have a very private, personal intention to one day write my memoirs entitling it, “Music in My House.”
—The day before this dream I responded to a Facebook posting that was a bit heartbreaking to me, and which was critical of a portrait of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.
—I’ve been carrying a lot lately…and then a dear loved one and I got into a conflict (the proverbial “last straw”) which caused me to crumble.
But then this dream comes…
It’s actually morning time and usually I would have been up and getting busy. But, I’ve fallen back asleep after lying awake processing and being quite tearful.
There is gentle music rising from my heart even as it ever so softly glows with golden light. I become lucid and now there are three things happening simultaneously—this activity from my heart, my lucid observing self and another expression of me that is singing along with the music. My lucid observing self gasps as I realize what is happening—my heart is aglow again, my being has music coming from it, and this is my grandmother’s tune! (“What A Friend We Have In Jesus”) The experience ends as I shift toward full wakefulness, but I lay in the quiet for awhile savoring it.
Next, I reached for my phone on the nightstand and found a version of this hymn that I thought would adequately capture the gentleness of the experience. Reviewing the lyrics, it was clear to me that they also were bringing me support and guidance. I’m very much a woman of prayer; I have been my entire life. This hymn was just what I needed to connect the “roots” of my upbringing with the current “wings” of my unfolding journey, as well as simply bringing encouragement and edification at a time when I needed it. There’s still more for me to unpack with it, I’m sure! I’m hoping that my sharing it here will add to the shared “conversation” where it is relevant, or rather perhaps to more than one shared conversation!!
By Kim T. Phetteplace, MA
The heart is a thousand stringed instrument that can only be tuned with love.
Bourgeault underscores this understanding of the heart as an organ of spiritual perception by quoting the modern Sufi master, Kabir Helminski:
"We have subtle subconscious faculties we are not using. Beyond the limited analytic intellect is a vast realm of mind that includes psychic and extrasensory abilities; intuition; wisdom; a sense of unity; aesthetic, qualitative and creative faculties; and image-forming and symbolic capacities. Though these faculties are many, we give them a single name with some justification for they are working best when they are in concert. They comprise a mind, moreover, in spontaneous connection to the cosmic mind. This total mind we call 'heart.'” (Helminski as quoted in Bourgeault, 2016, p. 54)
Childre also elucidates the ongoing importance and benefit of heart coherence, especially during times of personal or global stress, and equates this with spiritual realities:
"Our soul nudges and supports us in becoming more coherent as this is the optimum frequency and vibration for creating harmony, better choices and fulfillment. ... The soul and true self are aspects of our being that vibrate at a higher frequency of consciousness than our standard human awareness—until our awareness merges with that higher vibration over time. ... This creates an energy field that supports a coherent, harmonious foundation for creating peace and a world that thrives, not just survives. ... Our higher mind and heart are primary receiving stations for the wisdom and guidance from our soul, although our soul energy permeates our whole being." (Childre, D., 2016, p. 192)
The synergy between his observations of the camp community dream experiment and his renewed reflections on this circle dance dream facilitated Reed’s recognition of a possible design for group intuitive work.
"It occurred to me that I could harness the power of bystander dreaming by putting the person who was seeking guidance at the center of a circle of dreamers who had agreed to dream for this person." (Ibid)
Another fascinating link between heart intelligence and dreaming is the account of an 8-year-old girl who received the donated heart of a 10-year-old girl. Chronically disturbed by severe nightmares of being chased by a man trying to kill her, the heart recipient was eventually referred for psychiatric care. Impressed by the vivid and convincing details of the young patient’s dreams, the therapist researched information on the donor, which substantiated that the 10-year-old donor had been murdered. Remarkably the details of the recipient’s dreams contributed to solving the crime. (Pearsall, 1998)
This controversial, but well-documented account reveals the capacity of the “memory” and intelligence stored within the tissues of the heart to influence the subtle workings of the unconscious dreaming mind even when the original frightful event occurred to another individual. It also might lead one to ponder the energetic bond between the souls of these young girls—one incarnate and the other not.
Equipped with the understanding of both Western and Eastern contemplative traditions, which in turn is supported by contemporary science (particularly the work of the HeartMath Institute), I encouraged individuals – in the exploration of their dreams and in waking life – to receive and trust the intuitive wisdom that might arise from within the inner sanctum of their own hearts. I’ve come to understand the heart as a portal for the agency of the sacred, as a doorway of interface amongst the most essential layers of our beings. Through this portal, this window to the inner sanctum of our souls, the energetic dance of the Divine awaits our response to the intuitive wisdom and rejuvenescent healing offered there and often revealed through our dreams.
Bourgeault, C. (2016). The Heart of Centering Prayer: Nondual Christianity in Theory and Practice. Boulder, Colorado: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Childre, D., Martin, H., Rozman, D., & McCraty, R. (2016). Heart Intelligence: Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart. Waterfront Press.
Pearsall, P. (1999). The Heart's Code: Tapping the Wisdom & Power of Your Heart Energy. New York: Broadway Books.
Reed, H., & English, B. (2000). The Intuitive Heart: How To Trust Your Intuitive for Guidance and Healing
Thurston, M. (2004). The Essential Edgar Cayce. New York, NY: Tarcher/Penguin.
"Meanwhile, I keep dancing," - An Introduction
By Kim T. Phetteplace, MA
“I get up. I walk. I fall down. Meanwhile, I keep dancing.” –Daniel Hillel
A five-by-seven greeting card in subtle tones with lovely script preserves these poetic words by Daniel Hillel for me. I happened on it one day while browsing in the bookstore of the all-women’s Franciscan college I attended more than thirty years ago as a dance therapy major. This simple and elegant reflection of only a dozen words captured for me both the essence of my personal journey, and also the spirit of healing evident in the principles of therapeutic somatic work as they were being presented to me at that time in my dance therapy studies. I’ve kept this little card as an important reminder over all these years with its current location being the very center of the inspirational bulletin board adjacent to my desk at home.
Hillel’s words speak to me not only of the inevitable ups and downs of life, but also a willingness of the inner spirit to persevere and to prevail. They create a gracious frame for experience that honors the beauty of whatever comes as an essential component of the greater forward creative motion of life. Among other inspirations, this Daniel Hillel quote encourages me to understand life as dance – as a flow of inspired relational movement. It reflects a rhythmic dynamic process of engagement with life. Each time I read it, I am encouraged to forgive myself, accept what is, and try again…all the while holding it all as a part of the “dance” of my life. As it poetically illustrates important essential truths for me of both my personal unfolding life experience and of the nature of inspired living, it also subtly encourages my awareness of the layered or dimensional nature of my being — body and soul, frail humanity and dancing spirit.
When dreams dance!™ – my personal contribution to the emerging field of co-creative dreamwork and subsequently co-creative living – organically arose as I reflected upon and applied my ever-unfolding understanding of life as a richly dimensional, creative and relational “dance.” A personal history blessed by significant inspired, non-ordinary experience coupled with both formal and informal study of the transpersonal underlies its development. With a dream life that has been vivid and often lucid since my childhood and having personally experienced the transformative and healing touch of divine agency in and through my life, often through dreams and working with them, I am inspired to make sense of and to make more broadly applicable the efficacy of intentionally engaging — of co-creatively “dancing” with — the Soul’s impulse toward wholeness through dreamwork and through co-creative living.
Just as the creative aliveness of my spirit (in communion with Spirit) has been evident since childhood in my sleeping state, these inner creative fires found concurrent expression in my waking life through dance and expressive arts. The frequent eruptions of spontaneous, joyous dancing with which I often filled my childhood home, and which consequently led to years of formal dance training, eventually converged with my study of contemplative traditions and transpersonal psychology resulting in the recognition of an intrinsic “dancing” nature underpinning all of life. I came to understand that the principles of embodied creativity which arose and expressed themselves spontaneously through my child self, and which I studied in depth in my undergraduate work as a dance/dance therapy major were, in fact, manifestations of the divinely sourced creative principles inherent in all of life. As this understanding simultaneously became more deeply rooted in my being and bloomed in my daily awareness, it quietly bore the sweet fruit of subtle healing and enduring hope as I often found myself “dancing” with Spirit in the midst of my very ordinary life.
This same hopeful spirit of creativity and dynamic responsiveness underpins the FiveStar Method™ of dream analysis, developed by G. Scott Sparrow, Ed.D. Many years of working with and sharing dance/movement as a creative, somatic modality have imbued me with an embodied awareness attuned to recognize the essential elements of authentic creativity when it is present. I have recognized in the FiveStar Method™, which is based on the co-creative paradigm, a reliable conduit for connecting and working with the fundamental soul-level creativity that underpins the most essential impulses of human life both as encountered via dreams and in the correlated content of waking life. While incorporating a significant appreciation for the imagery presented in the dream, this approach to dreams builds on the hypothesis, first proposed by Ernest Rossi (Rossi, 1972), that dreams are created through the interactive relationship between the dreaming mind and the dream itself.
In five steps – best understood sequentially, yet adaptable and flexible in practice – the FiveStar Method™ of dream analysis puts the global response set (including feelings, choices, actions, etc.) at the center of the dreamwork process. From this orientation, the dreamer is empowered to engage in a process of personal discovery and exploration with very hopeful implications for her development or healing as the patterns of dreamer responses revealed within her dreams give way to new, more adaptive responses in waking life.
Much like the Hillel quote, and beautifully reflecting the process of creative improvisational dance, when working with dreams through the co-creative paradigm via the FiveStar Method™, the individual finds herself in an engaged and progressive process in which whatever is encountered potentially contributes to the ongoing “dance” and to the life of the “dancer” or individual. In both, the FiveStar Method™ and creative improvisational dance, the creative agency of the individual in relation to the content presented them is the heartbeat of the flow of life – the dance – that subsequently emerges.
I am reminded of the common idiomatic expression, “It takes two to tango,” which sprang from the 1952 song by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning and generally references when the interactions of persons or entities are inextricably paired with both parties sharing responsibility for the outcome. (Tréguer, Retrieved 2018) In dance, a tango is predicated on the paired creative engagement of both partners; without this dynamic pairing of partners, there simply is no tango, no manifestation of expressive creative life, if you will. So, too, the co-creative paradigm of dream work elucidates the underlying process from which dreams emerge, much like finding the hidden spring from which a bubbling brook is sourced. Awakening to and understanding the co-creative “tango” of dream life opens an individual to the hopeful potentiality of this inner creative “dance.”
But who or what are we “dancing” with through this approach to dreamwork? One might reasonably assume that a correlation exists between the dreaming ego and the waking ego of the individual, and this correlation is commonly assumed. But what of our “dance/tango” partner? And what are we to make of the dream imagery from this perspective? Without some degree of supportive study, referencing the content that is emerging to meet the dreaming ego simply as from the unconscious offers only minimal insight or helpfulness. Various theories and approaches to dream analysis offer an array of possibilities from which to understand the possible sources of consciousness expressing through the dream.
Based on the co-creative paradigm of dream analysis, particularly the work of G. Scott Sparrow, Ed.D., When dreams dance!™ is predicated on the understanding that dreams occur in service of the intrinsic human urge toward healing, wholeness, and integration, whether they are addressing needs of the body, emotional content or psycho-spiritual dynamics. It also rests on the belief that this imperative toward wholeness, as expressed through the rich and diverse terrain of dreams, is revelatory of the soulful, divinely sourced nature of being human. Recognizing a greater Source from which the dream’s core imperative toward wholeness arises, When dreams dance!™ explores the potential of engaging with and deepening one’s relationship with this greater Source, with the creative and integrative imperative of the Soul, through co-creative dreamwork (particularly the FiveStar Method™ of dream analysis) and through soulful, embodied practices and applications.
It is my hope that When dreams dance!™ will make a helpful contribution to the creative flow of life – the “dance” – ever seeking soulful expression throughout your days and within your dreams.