Do you ever feel like you’re just treading water, trying your hardest just to stay in one place? Do you feel dissatisfied with your accomplishments, even when you know you should be celebrating? Do you ever feel completely alone, even amid a busy world?
Welcome to modern life, a time when we have the tools to be connected to everyone every moment, for all purposes, regardless of the toll it takes on our physical health or, for that matter, on the world itself. Understanding our dreams and what they mean provides one key to being able to reconnect with our authentic selves, make connections with others, deepen our connection to our ancestral heritage and find true purpose and meaning in our lives.
Alienation—The Pervasive Symptom of Modern Life
Nearly 150 years ago, Karl Marx turned alienation into a buzzword, a term to describe the feeling of disconnection between people in an industrialized society: disconnection from other people, disconnection from the authentic self, disconnection from work and disconnection from the world. He postulated that, as people become more and more disconnected from the products of their labor, they become alienated from themselves, each other and the world. As the technological world has seemingly made it easier to be connected, it has, paradoxically, fed the alienation that lies at the heart of anxiety, worry and feelings of uselessness.
The Damage Done by Loneliness
Studies suggest that more people are lonely than ever before, to the point where the U.K. has appointed a Minister of Loneliness and experts in the U.S. have declared that loneliness is an epidemic. Most of these studies attempt to evaluate the number and quality of relationships in people’s lives and connect them to feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety and other so called disorders of modern life, but the damage done by loneliness and alienation is more than just emotional. In fact, studies show that loneliness is a contributing factor to a host of physical ailments, and that, in fact, being lonely can shorten your life.
One of the biggest ironies of living in an always-on, always-connected world, though, is that the very tools that offer easy connections also feed a sense of disconnection from ourselves. We spend our lives chasing productivity, trying to make every moment count—and proving that we’ve done just that with Instagrammable meals and moments, while we often don’t truly connect with the moment we’ve just lived. In a world where we can instantly reach millions of people, it seems that the most basic of connections elude us. Too often, we end up lonely and alone, adrift in lives that feel meaningless and empty.
Reconnecting to Your Authentic Self Through Dream Tending
Dream Tending offers a way to reconnect with yourself through observing and interacting with your dreams. When you start understanding your dreams as a living landscape where you can observe, explore and interact with your dreaming self, you begin a journey into your own past that can help you rediscover the joy and passion that once animated you. By confronting your nightmare images, you begin to understand and befriend them, and as you tend them, you are also tending to yourself—providing self-care for your dreaming and awake self.
Healing Connections to Others Through Dreaming
Dream Tending can also help you reconnect with and heal your relationships with others. The practice of dream tending requires that you awaken yourself to being fully present in the moment. Being present is one of the most important skills in relationship building. Through a conscious practice of dream tending, you learn to actively listen without judging, observe without interpreting and accept without analyzing. These lead to deeper, more intimate and more satisfying relationships and connections with others.
Discovering the Interconnected World Through Living Dreams
As you explore the inner world of your dreams, you’ll come to understand the deeper connections between yourself and your ancestors, from the most recent to those who existed before recorded history.
The living dreamscape is a place where you may encounter the living archetypes of the creators, the heroes, the demons and the beasts that inhabit the mythologies of cultures throughout the world. The deepening connection can help you understand the meanings of your dreams and act on the messages your dream messengers bring you.
When you understand that the lion chasing you through the dream city’s streets is, for example, the animated form of your own caged creativity, you can begin the work of unlocking the cage and and make peace with your inner pent-up expression.
Healing the World Through Shared Dreams
The final leap of Dream Tending is the understanding that, not only are dreams alive, but that everything dreams, that we live in a world surrounded by dreams. By activating and connecting with these dream images, we can unlock the power of our own creativity and discover the unique contributions we can make to the collective solutions that will help heal and reconnect us with the planet, the oceans and all of its people.
Written by Deb Powers
Deb Powers is a freelance writer who has studied and written extensively about archetypal images, dreams and metaphysical subjects. Her self-published tarot deck focuses on using tarot images and concepts for self-empowerment, problem-solving and personal growth.
Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., is the founder of Dream Tending, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Academy of Imaginal Arts and Sciences. He is a world-renowned professor of depth psychology, an imagination specialist, and an innovator. He has served as an organizational consultant to major companies and institutions, and as a depth psychological content advisor to Hollywood film makers. He has lectured extensively in the U.S., Asia, and Europe. He is affiliated with the Earth Charter International project through the United Nations, where he has spoken. Professor Aizenstat is the Chancellor Emeritus and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute. He has collaborated with many notable masters in the field including Joseph Campbell, James Hillman, Marion Woodman, and Robert Johnson.
Unleash your creativity and innate genius
Learn the Power, Purpose and Intelligence of Dreams
Improve the quality of your relationships, discover your authentic life purpose and improve your emotional and physical health with the Dream Tending Academy.
Free e-book download
For over 40 years, I have devoted my life to understanding the profound wisdom and healing power that exists within each of us. I am excited to share my latest e-book that showcases how to tap into your dream state through the powerful applications of creativity and innovation. By following my groundbreaking methods and techniques, you will discover how to unlock your creative potential, increase your emotional and intellectual bandwidth, and realize your personal and professional goals. Download my e-book and unlock the secrets of your dreams and deep imagination!