Helping people mend amid dis-ease

Dreamwork and Journaling are vital in the integration of dis-ease and wholeness. Shifts in the body appear in our Dreamwork + Journaling in ways that inform our growth and development. Tap into the pre-conscious self and listen to what is being said - behind the scenes - in your own life. Engage in the conversation here by COMMENTING or "Contact Us" - Tom and Glinda Johnson-Medland at tomjohnsonmedland@gmail.com and or gmedland137@gmail.com

Dreaming Pop-pop - A storybook helping children with grief

Johnson-Medland & Sons Booksellers releases "DREAMING POP-POP", today. Our first book published by Johnson-Medland & Sons Booksellers.

The book was written through the process of healing with our boys after the loss of my dad 14 years ago. The storybook leads kids through their dreams and feelings of loss; helping them to use journaling and transference objects to make sense of the feelings of being lost in our loss.

From the Site:

Losing loved ones is a difficult part of being human.  We spend our days lauding the many acts of love that enable us to grow closer to each other - we value community and growing in intimacy.

When we lose someone we love we feel the subtle tearing away of the countless bonds between our hearts.  It is not easy to interpret what is going on - even as adults.  Helping children to know what is going on amid grief can feel that much harder.

This simple book talks about a child's dreams, drawings, pictures, memory box and a process of healing that is aided by his parents, a Social Worker, and his school Guidance Counselor.  It reveals a concrete way of looking at the feelings that emerge amid grief and loss by implementing the tools of journaling, gathering of transference objects, and talking things through with those around us.

This book challenges us to remember those we love and integrate our losses with our memories, our feelings, our hopes and our dreams.  Join this child as he implements some rudimentary methods for processing grief.



I Dreamed A Dream: the Place of Dreams in Spiritual Formation and Direction

“I Dreamed A Dream: the Place of Dreams in Spiritual Formation and Direction”
by, Father Dn. N. Thomas Johnson-Medland, CSJ, OSL

The hidden nature of dreams and dreaming in our lives is esoteric – for the most part – because we fail to take the time to sit with them and listen to the value of their content.  Whether it is a lifelong dream and ambition we have or a nighttime visitor to our sleeping consciousness, dreams are vital in revealing our current identity, situation, and our longings for something other.

Countless hours of our lives are spent upon waking trying to remember just beyond the fragment of a notion that we still hold onto from our nighttime visit from a dream. Equal number of hours are spent in our lives trying to remember our lifelong ambitions or hopes and why we feel as if we are no longer on their path. Both of these things have to do with what we call dreams.  Whether they are the sleeping kind or the goal setting kind, I do not believe the path to their integration into our lives is any different. We must sit with our dreams and listen for their content to reveal itself and empower and engage us.

I think everyone has that one dream they are trying to figure out.  What does it mean?  Where did it come from?  Is there something I am missing?  And then, in an instant, we move beyond the notion of discovery and realization by going on to the next thing.  We go and make the coffee or wake the kids.  Leaving our dream in mid-air, like the gossamer wisp it is.  Never to think about it much longer in the future.

There are a couple of ways we can give voice to these dreams that will move us closer to hearing what they are really all about – what they are trying to say.  They are simple pathways that do not take up much time.  But, they do – as with all aspects of formation and direction – require attention and focus.

First, we can simply go through a chronology of the dream in our head and look at all of the pieces of the drama.  Start at the beginning and move through it sequentially.  Think about each of the elements as you pass through the content the first time.  On the second pass through the story, start to ask yourself these questions:

Does any of this make something else in my life more clear?
Do these snapshots of drama mean anything to me?
Are there symbols for my feelings, beliefs, and hopes laid out in front of me here?
How does this make me feel?
Does this feeling speak to where I am in life right now?
What great teachings do I see in the content?

Once you have begun this dialogue you will begin to engage with the content of the dream and even gain access to some of its empowerment to move on.  Some of the content may be disturbing and you do not want to look at it.  But, regardless there is something to be said.  Listen.

At some point it helps the process if instead of thinking about these things, you actually take the time and space to talk out loud to yourself about the process.  Speak the answers to yourself.  It will feel odd at first.  But, it is a dialogue, after all.

Second, you may want to do the same sort of process, but in a journaling format.  Use the same process of sequential review and the same set of questions to write down the components of your dreams and the responses to the dream interview questions.  It will yield a content you can come back to later if you choose to review or reengage the dream.

In either case there will be a listening that goes on that will take the dream into the next phase of consciousness.  It will begin to unpack itself more because you focus your attention on it and it meaning and importance.

Some people will naturally bring up reasons dreams are less important and transient.  They will say that, “I must have eaten something that caused this”.  Or, “I must be getting sick”.  In either case, we must remember that the contents from our dreams come from within us.  They come up and out of us because they are in there to begin with.  They have “something” to say.  We must be bold enough to listen and hear.

Just the last night I had a dream I was out walking with my family in the woods.  Not uncommon since we live in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.  Both our home and the property we own ten minutes away are in wooded spaces.

At some point we saw three bear cubs (grizzlies – which we do not have here in the Poconos, so their place must have had some metaphoric content to it) playing along the side of the path.  Almost immediately, someone shouted, “There must be a mother.  Run.”  And, we all ran to some makeshift shelter that was just around the bend – one that we all knew was there.

Once inside, I slammed the door shut and held my hands against it with great force as there was no latch or hasp to keep us safe.  The mother grizzly appeared through the crack between the door and the frame.  She was huge and menacing.  Oddly, although she was a grizzly, she and her cubs were as black; black as the night.

I held the door in place with my full weight. The mother grizzly began snorting and sniffing.  She began smelling my hand through the crack.  She stayed there for smelling for some time. 

The room was filled with a great tension and stillness.  It was then that I could begin to smell the strong aroma of garlic and remembered that my hands were coated with the aroma as I had been cracking the paper shells off of garlic cloves and crushing them for our meal just before we left for the walk.

I held my breath.  She then decided to move on and we were no longer in danger.  We gathered ourselves and waited before we left.

The waking life truth is that I had been shelling cloves before I went to bed and my hands did in fact smell of garlic.  But, not for a minute do I believe that that dream was not telling me something. 
Our family has been going through some tough discussions about or black lab Eli these last few days.  Eli, who was not anywhere in the dream at all. 

It did not take me long to realize the connection to the dread decisions we were trying to make about Eli and his ensuing death from cancer.  It was a large and menacing darkness that took us by surprise.

We were clearly grieving and sensing what it would be like without him in our lives.  The garlic became the bridge to the everyday reality.

After years and years of paying attention to dreams and dreaming, I began to notice a shift in my life.  I felt more settled.  I felt more homeostatic in my world.  I noticed that my writing took on more solidity and I began to write poetry.  I found myself more connected to the deeper recesses of my being.

In the craft of dreaming and sitting with the dream, we will find an opening to our identity and the meaning for who we are.  This is particularly critical during times of illness and great transition in our lives.  It is worth the investment to unpack the meaning of the gifts we receive from our inner self – the gift of dreams.

 "If you bring forth what is within you, what you have will save you. If you do not have that within you, what you do not have within you [will] kill you."
The Gospel of Thomas, verse 70

Tools for Spiritual Formation and Direction

Journaling Article

Journaling is a way of getting a vantage point on your life - not only a vantage point for the day, but a long term vantage point.  Journaling gives you a sense of who you are and where you have been over the life of your life.  We are much deeper than we give ourselves credit for when we can look at ourselves over time.  Check out this first article on Journaling and give journaling a try.  Once you have read the article, check in and get some comments started so we can follow up on the dialogue.