When the soul wants to experience something, she throws out an image in front of her and then steps into it.

-Meister Eckhart

What does your soul want to experience? Our dreams bring images and encounters created just for us, so we can feel this firsthand.

Dream: I’m driving a car up a steep incline to get on another road. I feel myself and the car straining so hard upward, and then it’s too much and the car lets go. We swoop backwards, down and across a highway. I feel fear but no cars are coming. Later I’m in another place driving and see a girl driving near, a large presence.

We may not know how much we long for something until we experience this in a dream. The letting go was such a moment for me. The strain is too much, the pushing upward. I know this place of striving, a tight narrowness where my ego is in charge. I can feel this when I tense up into anxious thoughts and plans, far away from the present moment and feelings.

The dream came during a time of outer world stress, when I needed help. Its healing medicine allowed me to imagine another way of being.  The car lets go for me. I can feel the pull of gravity, the swooping down into a place of not knowing and full-body fear. The aliveness is visceral. I can’t make this happen, not with the same striving. But I can pause, take a breath, move with the flow down into the here and now, into feelings. In this place the girl, the soul, has space to grow larger.

Some years earlier I’d sought help from a body worker when pain in my shoulder grew intense. “You walk a little above the ground,” she told me. She helped me with grounding, entrusting my body to gravity. My shoulder muscles tensed up when I felt unsteady. This seemed reasonable. How else could I keep myself standing?

“You don’t have to hold yourself up,” she told me kindly one day. “It’s not up to you.” This felt profound. No wonder my shoulder hurt. She helped me feel how, if our bodies are able to stand, the support of the earth travels up through our spine to keep us upright. We can feel the moving down and lifting up, the sense of being held. This is true while sitting or lying down as well. This experience felt uncanny to me, and tender, like a dream. The pain I was feeling was the opening. I could feel dreams guiding me here, down into feelings and the body, a connection with something larger.

When our conditioned responses come up, we can notice. Maybe our body constricts in a particular way. When I get lost in thinking, my shoulders may tighten. It’s like a friendly presence poking me here, saying: Wake up! A touch of humor helps.

Working with our dreams, we may feel a loosening around our old habits, a softening of the heart, so we don’t have to stay here so long. We can turn to the fresh ways of being our dreams bring us from the depths of imagination. This dream I remember often:

I’m in the ocean swimming, near shore, many others around. I swim out and suddenly I’m underwater, feel surprised and scared. Rising up and out I see I’m part of a huge wave swelling up high, so blue. I feel excited, feel how good the water feels. A teen girl shows me how to swim, says “it’s better to swim with the water,” so we swim down head first, together, deep down with the flow of the water. It feels so good.

The water feels good and so real, as real as anything I’ve known. I feel scared, excited, a big wave of feelings. The girl shows me how to swim down with the water, to be with her as companion, and to be her. To move in the flow with her is a felt experience I would not have without this dream. Now I know how this feels and I know it is possible.

These openings to soul we feel in our dreams are always present. We may forget and move into thinking or numbness, our narrow spaces. But our healing encounters and images, so particular to each dreamer, and our sensory feelings, are alive in us. Again and again our dreams invite us to return here, to allow this part of us to deepen. To accept this invitation is the simple and beautiful practice of this dreamwork.

Marian Enochs Gay is a certified Natural Dreamwork practitioner offering a contemplative approach to dreams as a path to soul. She offers individual sessions in person or via phone or Skype. You can contact her at menochs6@gmailcom. Learn more about her work on the About Us page.