When we go deep into the root of the word “contemplate,” we find its Latin components: contemplatus (to gaze attentively, observe) from the prefix com—“together” plus templum “temple.” The original meaning from the Latin was “to mark out a space for observing auguries or omens,” and the temple was typically the sacred space reserved for this purpose. After bringing the dream images to life in a Natural Dreamwork session, a practitioner invites a dreamer to contemplate moments of a dream that have brought the deepest feeling. It is in those sacred moments of the dream that the healing medicine resides.

After years of working with my dreams in this way, I have a virtual cabinet-full of such soul tinctures. I’ve discovered that I can reach back for a needed helper from a contemplation earlier in my work.

 Dream: One of my niece’s sons shrinks to the size of a straw and falls over on the ground…then I see the “straw boy” in a glass of water. I notice he is getting back to size.

 Contemplation: Feel the plight of the boy in the straw…what is my confinement?

When I’m under deadlines or feeling other nuances of constraint, I sit with my straw boy. He perfectly captures the constriction I feel; the familiar ways I’ve learned to contort myself to please another. I can take a breath, feel the pain of it and realign with a more liberated way of walking in the world.

In staying with an image, maybe even longer than feels comfortable, I find that even more is revealed to me. There are layers and nuances to our dream material. And it is only in gazing with slow attention that my conditioned way of seeing and defending can melt away.

This straw boy is a key for me. I’ve drawn him and felt his confinement in my gut. At times I’ve put on a piece of music and listened to what he has to say:

  • It is safe to be shrunken to such a state.
  • I’m easy to overlook; cool place to hide

Yet, in the dream, when he is in the glass of water, maybe, the water of feeling, he expands to his full dignity. Can it be that my fullness is related to my capacity to feel? And can I feel the contrast between my confinement in waking life and my full expansive self?

My Soul Boy takes this provocative disguise in a straw to help me contemplate a predicament that I am able to feel. How might the practice of contemplating dream images and helpers transform your relationship with your dreams?

Dreams are constantly offering us medicine to help us align with our liberated soulful selves. The practice of dream contemplation can deepen the sacred encounters that dreams bring.

Collage by Donna Mazzola

Donna Mazzola is a certified practitioner of Natural Dreamwork. She is a passionate advocate for the potency of dreams and their ability to transform one’s waking experience. A student of Rodger Kamenetz since 2016, she began facilitating dream groups and working with individuals in 2009. Donna is a certified Interplay leader, Projective Dreamworker (Marin Institute), and member of the International Association for the Study of Dreams. She holds a Master of Education degree and Master of Arts in Wisdom Studies. Donna is available for Natural Dreamwork sessions via Zoom, phone, or in-person. Contact Donna at donnmazz@gmail.com and visit her website at https://www.donnamazzola.com/.