Dear Dream Tending and Deep Imagination Community,

Today’s Tending Tuesday is brought to you by Dr. Myka Hanson, Dream Tending  Mentor, member of The Academy of Imaginal Arts and Sciences and Founder of Teen Forward.

As a life coach for teenagers, I’m privileged to tend their nighttime dreams, and I am often asked how tending dreams of young people differs from tending adults’ dreams. Recently, I was working with a fifteen-year-old client and she shared with me a persistent nightmare of being kidnapped and taken away from her family. She was worried that the recurring nature of the dream was increasing the likelihood that it was a premonitory dream; this worry was creating a level of anxiety that made it difficult for her to leave her home.

Tending a teenager’s dream is both easier and more difficult than tending an adult’s dream. Teens are still closely tethered to their imagination and the imaginal world, but they also don’t have the breadth of experiences adults have from which to pull associations. In tending this teen’s dream, I trusted the steps of association, amplification, and animation and leaned into quality over quantity:

Q: When you imagine yourself in the bunker at night, what feeling comes to mind?
T:  Alone. I’m all alone.
Q: Ah, alone. That’s a big feeling. If Alone was in the room with you, rather than inside of you, where would it be?
T: In the bed above mine. She’s asleep.

And, Alone was with us in the space, just like that. We explored Alone for a bit, and I invited the teen to be curious about Alone in the time before our next session.

When we met again and I asked about Alone, she smiled. “We talked a lot!”

Alone has, in the time since then, become a companion. Her dreams of being kidnapped have decreased; when they do happen, we are able to talk about them in a productive way where she feels less of a panicked response. Alone accompanies her as she moves around in the world.

While the bones of tending the dreams of teenagers does not differ from adults, there is a sensitivity required in helping teens connect with imagination–not because they are so distant from it, but because they are so close.

Much is said today about the mental health crisis facing young people–particularly teenagers–today. Unfortunately, imagination, dream, and the companionship images can offer do not get the same attention. I invite you to be curious this week and explore how you might lead with imagination, be present with dream images (even the unpleasant ones), and see what unexpected gifts might emerge.

In dream,

Myka K. Hanson, Ph.D.
Dream Tending Mentor and
Founder/CEO of Teen Forward

Inside The Curious Mind

A quote that resonated with me this week…

“There are some places in life where you can only go alone. Embrace the beauty of your solo journey.”

— Mandy Hale

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Stephen Aizenstat

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.