Dreamwork can be a challenging spiritual practice that invites our humility. All true spiritual practices ask us to let go of our previous notions of “progress” and to continue the path without measuring the journey by those egoic standards of success.  Within my desire for dreams to “show I am healing” there are some valid needs, and a lot of misperceptions.  Initially, by “healing” I meant becoming “better” as in a “better” person – different from my devalued ordinary self, more gifted, more special than before. “Better” comes from ego’s dualistic yet purposefully vague language, which hurls meaningless, critical vagaries with precise judgmental aim, always hitting the bullseye of our insecurity. Ego insists relentlessly that I – ordinary, awkward, and flawed person that I am – need to become “better” but never states what “better” is specifically, so it remains unachievable.

If I look for that kind of healing in my dreams, I will be disappointed and will struggle against them. The “better” place and healing Natural Dreamwork offers us is growth in compassion for how – in dreams and in life – we wander lost, alone, ashamed, and defensively missing sacred encounters. The “better” place and healing dreamwork leads us to is love for our ordinary, imperfect, wounded being and discovery that the sacred wants relationship with our most awkward, hidden, real self.

All true spiritual practices lead to real inward change and shifts in perception, awakenings that emerge as we learn to participate with the ever-present love and wholeness from which we were displaced. Dreamwork leads to such changes. Periodically we will have a flow of dreams that reveal that this kind of healing is taking place, not on ego’s terms, but on Soul’s. When these dreams arrive, I am suddenly not at all doubtful. In celebration, I want to tell others what I dreamed and that these dreams offer evidence I am making the “progress” Soul desires for us. This progress is felt as a deeply embodied sensation of something old made new again, of something that has naturally and slowly disentangled, opened, and released.

Progress and healing, according to Soul, is the birth of what has always been, instead of a way of getting rid of, or fixing, what is unacceptable to ego. Recently, I have had an arc of birth-dreams which give me hope that such healing is emerging through my dreamwork practice. I share them here with a promise to myself that I won’t compare my future dreams to them. And I caution you not to compare your dreams to mine. While birth-dreams feel big and full of life-giving energy, every dream is full of life-giving energy, though we are not always able to see or feel it.

In the first dream of this series, I was in a cabin in the woods.  A pregnant young woman was in labor, and a midwife instructed a man, who is a loving friend and a poet, to sit behind her in a small bed. He did so without question. Then the midwife instructed me to get in front of her. But I asked “Why? Won’t I crowd the birth?” And then the young woman giving birth was gone, having fled into the surrounding wilderness. And my poet friend held up slabs of frozen meat, saying, “She saw them and thought I killed women and ate them. She was afraid I would do the same to her.”

My work with this dream asked me to face my own old expectations of being hurt by men, how that freezes me, and kept me, in the dream, from getting in the bed close to man. I was also asked to face my belief that I would crowd the birth, that I am not needed by this young woman, who is Soul.  Instead of not being needed, the midwife specifically asks me to get in front, so that Soul can give birth through me. Through re-dreaming this dream, seeing myself take my place in the bed as the midwife instructed, I began to feel profound support, unlike anything I have experienced in waking life. I painted a small image of this “dream team” and now practice reminding myself that with me always is the poet, the pregnant young woman, and the midwife, all aligned to help my own soulful life be born.

A rhyming dream soon followed. In it, I stood talking with a young woman next to a frozen lake in which was embedded a smoking metal chimney.  Like the pregnant woman who returned to her wilderness when I questioned the midwife, this young woman was intimately familiar with the dream’s wild landscape and its frozen pond.  The frozen pond is what is frozen in me, and rhymes with the frozen meat in the dream above. The young woman was about to cross the pond even as the heat from the chimney was melting it. I cautioned her not to, afraid she would fall in. And she responded, “It will be alright. I will show you.” I told her, “We can talk about it when you come back.” She needed me to go with her onto the melting pond, but I tried to opt out, just as I avoided getting in the birthing bed. Instead, I basically told her that I didn’t want to live the risky journey of following her and felt safer just talking about it when she came back.

With intensity, the dream shifted in response to my refusal. The young woman was gone. At my feet lay a large rattlesnake. I leaned toward it, and it arched up and around suddenly, attaching itself firmly at the nape of my neck, as if to say, “You aren’t escaping this!” In response to working this dream, waves of old loneliness returned. I’ve carried this loneliness since childhood and learned to numb it long ago by keeping myself company. I let these lonely feelings come, trusting that the snake’s venom was requiring old patterns to die. This long-frozen loneliness needs to melt, and I need to feel it without reactively getting away from its pain through some distraction. When I described this loneliness to my dream practitioner, and how it surely began when I was left to cry it out during early childhood’s attachment-stage, we marveled at the snake’s choice to attach firmly at the nape of my neck – the exact place where the mother supportively places her hand as she holds her baby.

A few days later, I dreamed that I was standing in a hallway talking to a woman about disentangling. I don’t remember what we said, only “disentangling.” At that word, in the dream, a woman like my sister, down the hall from us several feet away, called out, “That’s it!  Here it comes.” I looked up, to see her hunching over in labor, her skirts lifted, and a baby’s head crowning. I rushed over to help, and to be closer to her birth. And before I could get there, the baby spilled out awkwardly onto some cardboard boxes and the floor, a beautiful, pink, plump, and healthy girl.

In our session, as we explored this dream, my dream practitioner and I marveled at how Soul doesn’t wait around for perfect settings ensuring graceful deliveries with someone on hand to protectively catch the baby.  Instead, ready or not, pregnant Soul bursts forth new life with such realness and such unpracticed, impromptu spontaneity that it “spills out awkwardly.”  My current dream homework is to hear the woman giving birth, this image of me, calling out, “That’s it! Here it comes!” and to feel how neither she nor the baby need any help and witness as the beautiful pink plump healthy baby is birthed, as it spills awkwardly into the world.

In response to this dream, I feel awe.  The spiritual path of dreamwork is unpredictable and can feel painful. My next dreams will not all be about healthy pink babies being born quickly and with urgency.  Tonight, tomorrow night, next month, I will continue to dream about messy bathrooms with doors that don’t lock, bandaged children and limping animals, heavy suitcases crammed with random, unnecessary things, and endless corridors down which I get more and more lost. But I trust there will also be visitors who love me despite my mess, caring nurses, and people helping me unpack and find my way. Because I have met them again and again. And because, through these recent dreams, I am starting to glimpse, as felt experience, as embodied knowing, that Soul desires in every moment to be born, not perfectly, but as a spilling out awkwardly now, and now, and now! into this awkward and imperfect world.

I trust that you too can let go of your ego’s expectations and start seeing the healing that dreamwork offers from Soul’s perspective. I assure you that dreamwork will keep inviting you into its birthing bed, supporting you poetically with midwife-wisdom. I encourage you to stick with dreamwork long enough that you start to lean into the feeling-melting medicine of your dreams and begin to disentangle. Then you will feel what is truly soulful spilling from your dreams, in beautifully unguarded and unexpected moments.

Doubt may come and go, for as long as we do this work.  But if we allow the healing to unfold on Soul’s terms, dreams will arrive naturally, offering abundantly generous revelations that dreamwork is indeed worth it. We dreamers keep doing this work because through dreaming we learn to feel, from the inside out, how in every moment, something is bursting into life in this world, unprepared, real, new, and so spontaneous and unpracticed it arrives with awkward innocence.

Dream illustration by Liza Hyatt


Liza Hyatt, ATR-BC, LMHC is a certified Natural Dreamwork practitioner, board certified art therapist and licensed mental health counselor in Indianapolis. For more information about spiritual growth through dreamwork with Liza, please contact her at lizahyatt@gmail.com. You can learn more about Liza on the About Us page of our website.