Dear Dream Tending and Deep Imagination Community,
Over these past years, our personal and collective mental health has been challenged in debilitating ways. The pandemic inflicted illness, isolation, and heightened anxiety. Shootings in our communities create fear, agitation, and horror. The threat of death has been omnipresent. Children are frightened and young adults are suffering anxiety at unprecedented levels. The rest of us are feeling increasingly helpless and depressed. How do we respond? How do we tend, then sustain, our mental and emotional well-being?
I believe the psychological medicine needed now is sourced in the wellsprings of our essential humanity. We must reconnect, more deeply, to the soul-felt experience of deep belonging. Now more than ever, it is important to embrace both our inner and outer communities for support and care. In the outer community, be it online or in person, we need a shift in focus. We need and to share experiences that are often displaced in favor of entertainment or commerce. Imagine making time to talk about deeper feelings of loneliness and yearning. These conversations often reveal hints of authentic desire. These intimations inform actions that can be taken to address the psychological consequences of living in difficult times.
Next, as important, is cultivating relationships with your inner community. This inside group consists of memories of loved ones and mentors. It also includes your inner soul-companions as well as generative figures originating in dreams and imagination. Experiencing the embodied presence of these members who reside in the inner realms opens conversations of value. Similar in many ways to community building on the outside, deepening your community relationships within widens your circles of intimate and cherished friendships. Kinship widens and curiosity increases. You feel the pulse of deep belonging and experience the calling of your heart’s desire.
In this mental health awareness month, there is a central practice that contributes to well-being. It is an antidote to fear and stress. To enhance mental, emotional, and physical health, maintain your relationships in community life, inner and outer. In turn, your curiosity is vitalized, and imagination activated. You cannot be anxious and genuinely curious at the same time. When living an imagination-centered life, your fear gives way to a deepening sense of self-assurance and well-being.
Supporting one another in community,
Dr. Stephen Aizenstat
Inside The Curious Mind
A quote that resonated with me this week…
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
– Coretta Scott King
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.