Dreaming Again Like a Child in Bali

Dear Dreamers,

I returned to the land and people I love in Bali during the past two+ weeks, and what a gift a little time to dream there was!

I'm super inspired by a workshop I led for children, aged 8 - 12, hosted by holistic educators Susan Allen and her husband Susiawan at Yellow Coco Creative Nest, their marvelous center for children. Dreaming with children is absolutely magical.

Here's what we did during our two hours together, and if you feel drawn to do something similar with the kids in your life, please do. Take what feels fun and make it your own, experiment, play, and give children the opportunity to share their dreams with each other in empowered ways. It will inspire them to value their dreams and imagination, and the seed you plant may be with them for life. I remember vividly my favorite teacher, Mrs. Berlin, sixth grade, who reminded me to always value my imagination, even when I grow up, so that I won't lose it as so many adults do. I took it to heart, the best advice ever for living an interesting life.

We started with questions and answers, leading to surprising dialogue and dream sharing. Kids ask astute questions. I was stumped by some of them. One question was, "If dreams come from us, why don't we know what we're going to dream ahead of time?"  It's OK to say, "That's a good question. I don't know the answer to that." This leads them to ponder their own creative answers, and models the truth that we don't always know the answers to everything, which is perfectly alright.

Then we moved into an opportunity for the students to experience their live imagination. Stepping into guided imagery led to excited sharing. The secret is using guided imagery that is non-specific so the dreamer finds their own place in the imaginal. "Close your eyes and get comfortable. (Lying down is great.) Imagine right now you're somewhere beautiful in nature. It can be a place you dreamed, you make up right now, or a place you've been to in waking life. You're moving through this place and you come to a beautiful body of water. Look at the edge of the water and see if you can find a helper there. Perhaps it's an animal or a bird or a sea creature...this is your friend. What happens next?"

Every child found a place in nature, a body of water, a friend, and had an adventure! And they loved sharing that with each other, as engaged storytellers.

Dream Theater is Fun!

Dream Theater is Fun!

A quick watermelon break led to Dream Theater. We acted out two dreams with the dreamers acting as directors for their dreams, with guidance from me. Both were nightmares that had left an icky impression and the dreamers were eager to create a new, better ending for them. They liked the idea that these dreams are like a story, unfinished, and that they have the power to change them. We had a spider-spitting scary man in a dark room defeated by a blazing Phoenix leading to a new open doorway,  and a murderous teacher struck down by a lion, given the opportunity to become a nicer person. The light shone in the eyes of the dreamers, and the consensus was that this was "awesome!", and there was a tangible sense of relief for the original dreamers.

Notice at no point did we do dream interpretation. The idea is to alert the children to the fact that they have power as dreamers, and are not just observers of their dreams or their lives.

Did I mention It's fun?

Did I mention It's fun?

Next, the kids were outfitted with drawing supplies. I drummed for them as they closed their eyes and allowed a dream to form, with the instructions to open their eyes and start drawing when they felt ready. I continued to drum for about ten minutes as they drew, and it was remarkable how focused they were during the drumming, with no fidgeting, jostling or distractions. They were creatively engaged in their dream worlds. Afterwards, a few were not finished with their drawings and said they would like to finished them later. They were eager and happy to share their drawings with each other and their parents. 

Drumming up a Dream

Drumming up a Dream

It was a resounding success. At no time were the children bored. They engaged with each other and listened to each other. They played and laughed, and encouraged each other, even when working with a scary dream during dream theater. They left wanting more!

You can do these things with kids. Encourage your children and grandchildren, your students and friends, to talk about their dreams, and to find power in them. Find moments for little impromptu dream theater, even at home. Play with it. 

If you would like to learn more about this, I'm available as a consultant and facilitator. I am a former school teacher and my final Master's Degree project was teaching dreaming at the famous Green School in Bali. 


Dreaming Like a Child in Bali

Surprising things happen when you give children a place to dream together. 

I was in Bali last spring and my friends Susan Allen and her husband Susiawan invited me to hold a dream workshop for children at their Yellow Coco Creative Nest. This is a wonderful school for creative exploration and cultural unity.

Children are natural dreamers and they like action! Dreams and our imagination play well together and by activating the imagination you can build a dream on the spot. I drummed a conscious dream journey as the kids laid down and let their live imaginations bring them a dream. 

We shared those dreams, and every child had a chance to be seen and heard. Give them time to articulate what they imagine and the next thing you know, you've built community. One dreamer will start, and a dream will enter the room. The next dreamer will share her dream and it may be that dream builds on the one just shared. Soon, everyone has a dream sparkling in the room and dream locales and characters weave in and out of everyone's imagination. And very often, a child will make it up as she goes along. How beautiful is that, to see a live, young creative mind, full of possibility, building worlds?  

Dreamers like movement. We played with dream theater, acting out the dream with on the spot improvisation! Allow the dream to unfold embodied, and all becomes alive, animated, fun...even scary dreams.

Yellow Coco Creative Nest, Bali

Dream art...we had one young teen, and she was a little reluctant at first, as teens often are, especially when the other kids are younger. They have their own inner worlds to explore; introversion is a part of that. But when our energetic dreamers were invited to draw, she was fully engaged in stepping back into the her dreamscape. 

Our two Balinese dreamers didn't speak English, and Susan translated our inquiry into Indonesian. They drew their dreams, too, and even though there were differences in language and culture, all the children dreamed together beautifully, and experienced something new together. 

The surprise came at the end. We had all shared a dream and had acted in dream theater,  and we each had a lovely dream drawing. One of the students suggested we join our drawings into one big dream drawing. Great idea!  Someone thought of drawing a road from one drawing to another, linking them all in a visual expression of traveling this path together.  Amid chatter and play, with pastels flying, a new dream unfolded, and with it a new idea for dreamwork with children conceived by the children themselves.

Yellow Coco Creative Nest, Bali, Dream Workshop

Family Dreaming Across Time and Space

We know we're connected to each other in the great web of life, and it's one of many gifts of dreaming when those deep and mysterious connections are revealed. Here's a wonderful dream story.

A dreamer at one of my workshops shared a dream image that came to her when I drummed a short conscious dream journey. She perceived serpents weaving in and out of her body, and frankly, she was a little concerned.  But after playing with the serpent energy through movement, and talking about the archetypal symbolism of the snake, she felt the incredible vitality and transformative nature of the serpent and was no longer uncomfortable with the dream. In fact, the dream brought her to a new awareness of the vital kundalini energy that fuels and births life, and of her loving relationship with her husband and child. 

To paraphrase a brilliant observation mythologist Michael Meade made...when we meet the sacred we're having a meeting with power and this requires a sacrifice of some kind. Our dreamer's offering was to dance in the workshop with the scary power of the helper that came to her in the form of the snake. She had to have courage to do this. The allies are not always cute and cuddly. They are meetings with big medicine, and they lead us to our deeper self.

The next morning, our dreamer shared a photo of a drawing her little daughter, around 5 years old, had drawn that evening, at a great distance from her location at the retreat. The drawing was so interesting her husband had sent it to her. It appears her little girl is witnessing the sacred loving dance of her mother and father, complete with hearts, the drawing reflecting the energy of the dreamwork that unfolded that same day. And what is that on the ground near her father's feet? It appears to be a serpent. This drawing is a snapshot of the beautiful connection of love in this family, and of the mysterious presence of the serpent archetype and energy of creation we explored that very day.

Help Your Children Bring Dreams Into the Light

I’m reminded this week about the gift of sharing dreams with the beloved children in our lives. Children live so close to their dreaming selves, and it doesn’t take much to create a spontaneous dreaming moment, one that can bring closeness and understanding in beautifully unexpected ways.

I was once at a friend’s house and met a young girl, about seven years old, visiting with her family from far away. I asked her about her dreams, and she shyly shared that she had a reeeeeeally scary dream that week.

“Really scary."  Oh? Tell me more!  “I was home and the wall in my bedroom was full of eyes looking at me!”  Oh, how scary! Was it day or night?  “Night.”  Oh! Scary!  “Yes.”  What would you like to see happen with those eyes if you could do anything?  “I want them to close!”  Oooof. Me, too.  What could make that happen?  “I’d shine a big light at them.”  Great idea! What kind of light?  “A big flashlight!”  Perfect! Would you like to do something about those eyes right now?  “OK.”  All right…see that wall…let’s imagine that wall is the wall in your bedroom.  “OK.”  And now…I’m here with you, so you’re safe…can you image that wall is full of those eyes, just like in your dream?  “Ooooo Yes!”  OK, we need a flashlight, right? How about if I be the flashlight, and you shine me on all of those eyes and make them not only close, but also disappear?  “Yeah. OK!!!”

We did a little dream theater right on the spot. This beautiful little girl, empowered and happy, shone her imaginary flashlight all over the wall, guiding me as the flashlight to shine right where she felt the light was needed. It was just right and the dream was no longer scary. No interpretations, no lessons, just a moment of dreaming together.

Meanwhile, the adults were deep in conversation and didn’t realize the beauty of the moment. My new friend skipped off to another room and I rejoined the conversation.

About twenty minutes later, she came up to me with a big sheet of drawing paper…she wanted to share more dreams with me, and had drawn sketches of about a half dozen dreams…and was brimming with excitement at telling me about her dreams. A gate had opened simply because she found someone who was genuinely interested in her amazing inner life. We can do this for others, children and adults alike, and if we open to dreaming with adults, the child within will come out to play.