By Marie O. Davis LPC and Tayria Ward Ph.D.
One of the joys of sports, whether individual or team sports, is the consistent challenge to perform at our best. We measure that best by looking at other’s performances or by exceeding our own previous attainments and striving to improve skills with every try.
When it comes to playing the game of life, there are numerous ways people endeavor to enhance performance and develop new proficiencies. How do evaluate ourselves and make the changes that we long for? Spirituality, therapy, self-help, journaling, reading, yoga, and multitudes of programs offer assistance. When we want to change our soul life performance – in our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors – there is a need for an objective way of testing and challenging experience.
In sports athletes learn their skills, train and get feedback from coaches and trusted sources. How do we get such feedback while learning life skills? We are suggesting a couple of means to do this. Your dreams of the night are ever offering consistent, reliable, insightful feedback to you from a higher source of wisdom and knowing. Additionally, an alchemical mandala-making process can show you visually and with felt sense how well you are doing, and what needs tweaking next. We have become fascinated with the efficacy of bringing these two methods together in classes and workshops we are now offering.
Try this. Try writing down your dreams of the night, no matter how ordinary, mundane, bizarre or random they may seem. You’ll most likely find that as soon as pen comes to paper and the intent to listen to the language of the dream is activated, another dimension of your psyche starts speaking, offering insight and assistance in its own mysterious language. Your dreams will function like a good coach, the best coach, the one who knows you way better than your conscious mind knows you.
When life keeps coming at us with challenges and we keep missing the same hurdles, falling into the same emotional and psychological patterns, attracting the same opponents, miss opportunities for advancement – dreams of the night, and the dreaming dimension of the waking psyche are consistently offering to us the most pertinent, relevant, timely, healing advice about how to understand our obstacles to improvement and how to master them. Because they speak in a language that modernity has tragically forgotten, dreams are most often, sadly, ignored. Every person and situation in your dream is a symbol, every person and situation in your life is a symbol. Learning the symbolic language of dreaming will help any person to improve performance and satisfaction in the game of life.
I (Tayria) work with clients to help them recover the language of dreams – both in person in my lovely office in the Flatiron Building in downtown Asheville and also by telephone for people who live a distance away. And I am enjoying teaching workshops and classes now with Marie Davis combining her work with the “dreaming awake” work of making alchemical mandalas.
I (Marie) learned a method for making these mandalas from Dennis Klocek, an avid student of Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy. The technique uses collage images to express the issues, challenges and movement in our inner life. By ensouling these images with meaning, placing them on paper where we can see them and move them around, something alchemically occurs to us that moves and improves our spiritual, emotional and psychological situation. We work through fixities, see our patterns and figure out ways to develop new skills in relationship to the issues.
When we use alchemical mandala’s, different than Eastern mandala’s, the structure of placing images that represent different activities we do creates an objective way at looking at the self and areas of life where we feel stuck. The soul activities that we look at are how we form beliefs, engage in a process, get our beliefs challenged, and gain insight. By choosing images to represent soul gestures, we take our ‘problems’ and place them outside of ourselves to gain a different perspective on the life events that are challenging us, giving us an opportunity to develop ourselves, change beliefs and find new responses and behaviors.
In sports, top athletes visualize themselves doing certain actions over and over again as a way of preparing their body to perform the action in the best possible way. Similarly, when we make an alchemical mandala, we are imaging/imagining how we are performing certain life actions –thinking, feeling, or doing – and evaluating how we think it is going and what we think we might do differently. Achieving excellence in life is just like what athletes do in sports. We practice in our imagination how we would like to perform.
I (Marie) also work with clients in body-centered therapy. In this work, one is supported and guided to explore automatic or habitual movements that are made when talking about specific issues or challenges in life. By paying attention to the story that our bodies are telling, the client is able to begin to access the internal “map maker” who formed certain beliefs that may no longer serve us. This level of working with movements and ‘communications’ that our bodies are making that are beyond our awareness is also a deeper form of seeing that parallels dream work and mandala making. By making conscious the limiting beliefs that we are still holding onto, we gain access to more of our human facilities and skills at our disposal.
For example, if we believe “my needs don’t matter”, we may go through life avoiding acknowledging our basic human needs and feel deprived of love, connection or support. By revealing this level of belief to the conscious mind, we are finally able to gain awareness our specific needs and then can take productive action to get them met.
Similar to learning to improve our game in sports, we look to utilize improved skills that will make us more effective. Having helpful and empowering belief systems allow us to excel in life. But if there are unproductive or unhelpful belief systems that hinder us from getting the most out of life, how do we become aware of these and change them? Dreamwork, mandala making and body-centered therapy radically help a person in processes of self-discovery.
Like any sport, the game of life is both exhilarating and exhausting, dangerously challenging and ecstatically rewarding. Any way to learn new techniques, increase skills and challenge ourselves to develop strength and awareness is a blessing. We think these techniques are effective, exciting, fascinating. They will offer your psyche and your heart all new ways to engage in life.
For information about upcoming fall series, please contact Tayria or Marie by phone or through their website.
Tayria Ward, Ph.D. is a depth psychologist and dream analyst in private practice who does telephone sessions as well as face-to-face work with clients in her office in the Flatiron Building in downtown Asheville. Her telephone number is 828-329-0853, website is www.tayriaward.com
Marie O. Davis, MA, LPC, is an expressive arts and body-centered therapist in private practice in downtown Asheville and is a part of the Asheville Healing House collective. More information about her and her work can be found at: www.bodysoulspiritasheville.com or by calling 828-273-5647