Dear Dream Tending and Deep Imagination Community,
My name is Randall Lea. I am a Licensed Addiction Counselor, Licensed Dream Tender, and Mentor for the current and upcoming Certificate II program focusing on Deep Imagination.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and I’m reflecting on a quarter century of working with the dreams of people with substance use concerns. First, I’d like to be clear that Dream Tending is not intended to replace detoxification, treatment, or engagement in peer support. Instead, I work in partnership with physicians, therapists, and peer counselors as part of a treatment team or in private practice with people well on the road of recovery. Still, common themes come up, and the wisdom of the dream often presents not just the problem, but offerings of a solution for those on a recovery journey.
Most common is the relapse dream. Many people in early recovery and beyond experience repeated dreams of use and awaken in a twilight state of not knowing for certain if their lapse into use was real or imaginal. The feeling may linger well into the day, leaving a residual mood of self-doubt or worry. Most often though, the dream acts as rehearsal for life, and the regret upon awakening underscores the great value and worth the dreamer is already placing on recovery – something they want to protect and preserve.
Dreams also forecast success or solutions as well as threat. Deloris [not her real name] was a woman near 70 when she found lasting recovery. Deloris dreamed at six weeks sober that she was in a sinking airboat, fearing for her life. Her new sponsor appeared to her in the dream and told her all she had to do was “open the door and walk out!” Deloris laughed as she related this dream, which reinforced for her that her sponsor often had simple solutions to problems seemingly impossible to solve. The dream also reinforced her trust in people farther down the recovery road.
A woman 40 years younger dreamed of being in the “Mall of America” with her boyfriend, finding Xanax in her pocket, and carrying it to a water fountain, watching it as it dissolved down the drain. Through Dream Tending, we were able to explore the Mall as personification of a variety of present-life temptations “in the marketplace”, and the fountain as a portal of healing which has the capacity to dissolve not just substance but her reservations about recovery. This is now an ancient well she visits often.
Dream Tending’s methodology offers a host of allies to the person turning the corner into a new life; the vividly remembered ancestor in a dream, or the animal of grace and power, or the place of solitude and peace. The dreamer often reports a sense these presences “are always with me,” As one dreamer put it, “My disease follows me wherever I go, why shouldn’t I also be aware that my angels are with me, too?” Dream Tending offers useful daily practices that can bring conscious experience of these supportive figures into meaningful action throughout the day. And then the days add up, a day at a time.
Randal Lea MA, LADAC, QCS
Dream Tending Certificate II Mentor
Inside The Curious Mind
A quote that resonated with me this week…
“No society can understand itself without looking at its shadow side.”
– Gabor Mate
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.