Dear Dream Tending Community,
Today’s Tending Tuesday is brought to you by Louise Rosager, Dream Tending Mentor, member of The Academy of Imaginal Arts and Sciences and Founder of Wake Up and Dream.
I live and work in Los Angeles, arguably one of the most creative cities on the planet. But every summer, I make a pilgrimage of sorts to a tiny Danish coastal town by the name of Rorvig. Ever heard of it? Yup, I didn’t think so.
As a child, I spent every summer roaming the woods and windblown shores of Rorvig, and as I grew in years, and my life grew in complexity, it became my annual refuge. Here, I could be myself without judgment. I felt accepted – mostly by Nature – for everything I was. Time stretched out endlessly, the landscape held me, even guided me, and I was free to imagine, write my first stories and come up with new ideas and ways of seeing the world. I owe much of my creativity, and my work with the creative imagination, to this place.
I never quite plan it this way, but whenever I visit there, a portal opens into profound, personal transformation. The ability to sink into the landscape with total trust pries open some kind of doorway to liminal space, even to this day. Insights happen. Synchronicities are bountiful. My perspective on my work, even my life-situation is utterly changed. I can hear the pull of the future and am given the courage to follow. Walking through those woods – unchanged for 30 years – is, truly, like walking through a dream.
In Dream Tending this kind of location is referred to as the ‘Home Place.’ It is that landscape, often from childhood, where we spent our most tender and honest moments – a place of deep belonging.
In my work, I utilize the Dream Tending methodology as an inherent part of the creative process, and I have found that one of the most effective ways for an artist to overcome insecurities and creative blocks, is to develop an on-going relationship with a ‘Creative Home Place’ from their own lives. When the artist allows the essence of this place into their bodies and imagination, something effortlessly opens up and they relax into a deeper way of being. They immediately breathe more freely. The blocks and insecurities they came in with drop away. When they write or perform from this place, their work becomes resonant, authentic and full of surprises. They suddenly know how to solve problems they’ve been grappling with for weeks. They get back into creative flow.
The reason is that, no matter who we are today, our Creative Home Place mirrors back to us who we were at a time of innocence and openness. Actively recalling the details ‑ the sounds, the smells, the way the air felt on our skin – rouses our curiosity, even excitement about being alive. We feel safe. And in that safety, we are freed up to try new things, to create truthfully and we become more attuned to the messages of our deep imagination.
Of course, blocks and insecurities may creep back in as people go about their daily lives. But soul work is cumulative. When we exercise the ‘muscle’ of imagination and curiosity, we are not strengthening the ‘muscle’ of anxiety – at least not for that particular moment. Everything, even inspired art, is a result of training and practice. Working with the Creative Home Place is a way to train ourselves to be grounded and secure in our creative work and thus more open to inspiration.
So the next time you engage with your creative work, or before exploring a dream, try, first, to connect with your version of this Home Place. Close your eyes and imagine it around you. Gradually become attuned to the details of the place, involving all the senses. Allow yourself to act as if you were actually there. Notice how acutely you can see, hear and smell the place, reach out your actual, physical hand and touch the various features of the landscape – even if they’re ‘just’ there in your imagination. Notice the roughness, the smoothness. Pick something up and taste it. Notice what opens up inside of you, as you imagine yourself here and allow the body to express those feelings in movement and gesture. Finally, as you feel your soul quicken, open your eyes, and engage with your creative work. What comes through you may surprise you.
What would it be like to always write, paint or perform with this level of equal support and openness?
Inside The Curious Mind
A quote that resonated with me this week…
“Here could I breathe my soul into the air.”
— Will Shakespeare, Henry VI Part 2
Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D., is founder of Pacifica Graduate Institute, Dream Tending, and the Academy of Imagination. For more than 35 years, he has explored the power of dreams through depth psychology. He has collaborated with Joseph Campbell, Marion Woodman, Robert Johnson, James Hillman, and Native elders worldwide. He is the author of Dream Tending and conducts dreamwork and imagination seminars throughout the US, Europe, and Asia.