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Dream TendingDream Tending: A Way of Responding to the Suffering World

Dream Tending, a practice developed over 30 years by Dr. Stephen Aizenstat, recognizes the dream image as alive and profoundly able to influence every aspect of the dreamer’s life. In one of the more radical moves of Dream Tending, participants are invited to “experiment with a worldview that playfully and soulfully sees the world as alive and always dreaming”[1]

To go to the very depths of experience, to the level of the soul of the world, dreamers imagine that the images that come “are the expression of Nature herself, effortlessly arising in our dreams.”[2]

The world’s dreams will speak on their own behalf. The dream tender’s task is to listen with the nose of animal sense and the imagination of the heart and then cultivate the practice of maintaining an enduring dynamic relationship with these images based on mutual responsiveness.

In Dream Tending, the quality and depth of how we respond to images, and how we notice the subtle response of images to our attention provides a critical paradigm shift in the conventional notions of healing and activism.

The linguistic roots of the word respond also lead to the words spouse, sponsor, and responsibility. The original Latin word referred to a sacred pledge or promise. Dream Tending invites a return to this deeper network of meaning contained in the gesture of responding, a network that involves intimate understanding, guidance and learning through growing familiar with dream images as living entities, and acting on behalf of those relationships as a form of archetypal activism in the world.

C.G. Jung gave particular emphasis to the aspect of responsibility as the culmination of a dreamer’s work with images when he said, “The images of the unconscious place a great responsibility upon a man. Failure to understand them or a shirking of ethical responsibility deprives him of his wholeness and imposes a painful fragmentariness on his life.”[3]

The Global Dream Initiative regards the present suffering of the planet as a consequence of this shirking of responsibility and neglect for the connection of the human psyche with the world soul. Dream Tending imagines this sense of responsibility emerges from a process of relationship and learning, an embodiment of one’s fate as it is revealed through a sustained relationship with the images of dreams. From this perspective, new paradigms for healing occur in the context of a relationship with dreams based on an attitude of caring and responsiveness. The ways in which we respond leads to new ways of being active on behalf of the planet and its dreams.

Learn more about Dream Tending here:

[1] Steven Aizenstat, 2011, 144

[2] Steven Aizenstat, 2011, 151

[3] Jung, 1989, p. 193

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