Last week, I had the amazing pleasure of posting up at an amazing new spot in New Orleans, the Glitter Box. On Royal St., it’s a hub of incredible art and crafts pieces, all centered around a modern intersectional feminism that honors the need for making yourself feel beautiful, look glamorous, and ground into your spirit. I was there offering dream consultations to the patrons, and when a group walked in looking for some healing, I got the same reaction I’ve gotten over and over these years that I’ve told people I do dreamwork—EEK!
I’ve come to realize this is because, 9 times out of 10, if a person remembers any of their dreams at all, they remember one they consider a “nightmare”. The dream reminds them of a feeling they want to avoid. Having someone stand there and suggest we explore it together—well that doesn’t sound very fun does it? Why would anyone want to do the work of exploring our shadows—opening up to precisely the things that we’ve been working so hard to avoid or reject?
I understand it, I really do. But I feel pain about it too. Because through my work with these shadows I have come to see that all of the energy we are using to avoid them is one of the biggest sources of our suffering. And even though we know this, when it comes to the individual and specific ways we are blocked—the things our dreams love to immerse us in—it can be so difficult to muster the courage and the strength to look.
So as the years have passed, I’ve come back again and again to these questions: How do I frame dreamwork in a way that doesn’t feel as scary to people? How can I advocate for the dreams in a way that honors their power while still empowers the dreamer? How can I create a way for people to interact and interface with dreams in a way that is nurturing and supportive and even…dare I say it…FUN?
One of the most powerful ways I know to explore dreams is through a process I was exposed to during my time at North of Eden called ‘strings’. In the process, a group leader takes each dreamer through a theatrical re-enactment of their dream, intended to illuminating the wisdom and healing potential of the dream. By creating a physical experience of the dream, dreamers can more readily access that healing potential. I went through many retreats focused on this process, and it was nothing short of life altering. I felt into wounds I was carrying from many generations previous, and was able to understand the source of so many of my negative reactions and difficulties in relationship with others.
I eventually came to help teachers lead strings, and have even led a few string groups myself. But as with any powerful medicine that engages with shadow work, the territory can be extremely tricky. More than once I witnessed and have even facilitated pushing people into places and experiences that were actually too much for them to handle or process in that moment. I’ve come to realize that I do my best work with dreams with an extremely gentle touch, and one that empowers the dreamer first and foremost and always. And through this realization, Dreamplay was born.
Starting this January, I was blessed with the commitment of a few incredible dreamers in New Orleans, including Mary Lou Bensabat and Marian Gay-–dreamers and teachers who have walked the path of their own dreams with an inspiring amount of humility, discipline, and compassion. They agreed to meet with me every couple of weeks to help develop this Dreamplay process. We stuck with the idea of bringing the dream to life through dramatic re-enactments. But made a definitive change—instead of a group leader directing the dream, it was the dreamer themselves that is charged with telling the group how they would like their dream to be played with.
We focus on the felt experience of the dream, and encourage a quiet, meditative state during the practice. This way we make space for whatever may be alive for the dreamer as they allow for their inner vision to be witnessed. Questions and commentary are kept to a minimum—and when the dreamer feels done, we’re done.
When I started this I was worried that the practice wouldn’t be powerful enough, that it wouldn’t really honor the capacity dreams have to heal. But that judgment completely changed after the first time I experienced Dreamplay for myself. Sure, it was not as life-altering as the first time I did strings in an intensive retreat setting. But it wasn’t meant to be. And when it compared to just discussing my dreams with someone one on one, it actually effected me just as powerfully—if not more so. I was able to connect with feelings in the dream that I didn’t even realize were present, making it possible for me to gain insight on the topics brought up by the dream.
What I love most about this process is how accessible it is. Just like a yoga class or meditation circle, dream play is meant for dreamers of all levels of experience and relationship with their own dream practice. Truly, no matter if you only remember one dream from your whole life or you engage in deep lucid dreaming experiences every night, Dreamplay opens up a safe and non-dogmatic environment for you to explore what your dream wants to reveal to you. One of the things that I’ve loved most about it so far is the awesome synchronicities that arise between the dreams and the dreamers who participate, allowing themes to arise organically from those present. And the fact that since the focus and power is put into the hands of the dreamer, it’s easy to regulate the depth of the experience so that it aligns with what you’re most prepared for in the moment.
So!! I’m happy to say that I’m starting to bring Dreamplay out of my office space and into the wider world and I hope that some of you may be able to join me. The process is truly a lot of fun and something I’m eager to bring out into the world so that more people can find ways to incorporate the wisdom of their dreams into their everyday lives. Here’s the upcoming info & dates!
Mondays, except April 17th – NEW ORLEANS @ Grandmother Dream House, 1112 Mandeville, 6:30pm
April 17th – MIAMI –Dreamplay @ Inhale Miami, 7:30pm
April 23rd – NEW ORLEANS — Dreamplay @ Nola Yoga Loft, 2pm-4pm