Artwork by Sachin Teng

Artwork by Sachin Teng

Most people walk around for years without ever receiving a proper ‘Hello.’ What I mean by that is that most of us have been taught from the earliest age to suppress and discount the tenderest, most creative part of ourselves. This condition is what we call shame.

When you consider the origin of the word shame, which means “to cover,” you begin to understand that, however misguided, we hold a secret and painful conviction that certain parts of ourselves are so ugly or unworthy, that unless we hide or cut them off, we will never belong or be accepted.

Dreams, on the other hand, go straight for those things and throw off the covers. They work tirelessly to retrieve our forgotten, neglected and rejected soul-parts. It can be threatening to the ego at first, whose whole existence depends on keeping those things hidden. And while it is certainly possible to survive in this way, underneath the daily armour is an unabating hunger to be seen.

So because of the intimate nature of dreamwork, one of the first things that happens is the ecstatic releasing of shame. Especially with dark dreams, which seem to contain perverse or violent images, but which are often speaking to the ways in which we are being violent or dismissive of our own hearts.

You might say that dreamwork is the practice of seeing, and being seen. It is connecting with that which is tired of fitting in, which wants to feel alive, which has something authentic to offer. Whether with ourselves or with others, giving a proper ‘Hello’ is to hold a subtle, unwavering presence for that thing until it feels safe enough to emerge.

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