The Bravery of Being Seen
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Artwork by Sofia Bonati

The Bravery of Being Seen

Dear Dreamer,

I wanted to share a meaningful experience with you that I had recently, when I was invited to teach in a small community of like-hearted women, who not only live on a remote island, off-the-grid, but for whom sharing dreams is a way of life.

Imagine if you can a small village of people who depend on each other for fresh food, emotional and physical support, a shared economy, and all the ordeals between birth and death. But then who also meet every week, to share their dreams!

I was moved by how really brave it is to live with such transparency. When the most intimate material of your inner life is allowed into a trusted circle, you become able to live inclusively of your shadows and weaknesses, your aches and longings. And by extension, how inclusive you learn to be with others.

Because of the intimacy of this work, so often I experience the quiet terror most people feel in being seen, being heard. And yet, to be seen, to be heard is the thing we want more than anything in the world. But because so many experience criticism, dismissal or invalidation the moment we brave our voice, our art, our vulnerability into the open, we learn instead to be silent, to be covered, to be small. It's a matter of survival.

After a while, we get so used to keeping our inner life a secret that we become distant even from ourselves, suspicious of the images that appear in our dreams. We may believe that we have some particular darkness that, if shared with others, might alienate us for good. Ironically, it is this fear itself which so often keeps us outside of belonging.

We are more alike than different, yet we rarely touch this awareness because we practice at excluding ourselves. To varying degrees, we all split our soul-life off from the face we share in public. But perhaps more insidious is how we distance ourselves from those aspects of the Self which are devalued in our families and culture.

The moment we step into the sacred container of a dream circle, it is understood that our purpose is to welcome these refugee aspects of the Self back into belonging. And in the act of sharing this process in community, we instantly create a healing field for others’ lost life to come into inclusion.

One by one, as we welcome them into the conversation, the so-called negative emotions have a chance at manifesting their concealed goodness. Shame welcomed allows dignity to emerge, betrayal’s hidden medicine is true loyalty, isolation hides a longing for intimacy, and so on.

And as we listen to each other’s sacred dreamstuff, we recognise ourselves as weaving something meaningful together, strengthening in community those places we are weak, and allowing our own strengths to be finally of use to our sisters and brothers.

As I watched this group of women sweep the floor, prepare the food, lay the altar, build the fire and light the candles, they seemed to move as one being. A murmuration of dreamers so intimate with eachothers' edges that their movements were a choreography of acceptance and grace.

May this story inspire you to brave at the chance of being seen, that everyone around you may finally know they are not alone.

With love,
Toko-pa

www.toko-pa.com
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(Left) The women of Lasqueti Island, (Right) the beautiful dreamers of Courtenay.
"Most of us think of belonging as a place, that if we keep searching, we might one day come upon it, wholly intact. But what if belonging is not a place at all but a skill, or set of competencies? In this workshop,Toko-pa explores what she calls the ‘competencies of belonging’ with a focus on dreamwork as an active practice which brings us back into relationship with the parts of ourselves from which we’ve become estranged."
::: EARLYBIRD ENDS JUNE 10th ::: REGISTER HERE :::
Embodying the Dream: 2nd Annual Dreaming Retreat

Dates: November 16-20th, 2016
Place: Salt Spring Island, British Columbia

Last year, women came from all over the world to this magical island in the sea with the shared intention of dreaming together in council. It was such a meaningful experience for us, that I vowed to make this an annual retreat. Embodying the Dream is a place of reunion for those of us who crave community with other women dreamers. Whether meeting for the first time or weaving in deeper, we practice at belonging together through embodied dreamwork. Learn more here!

"In my world, courage means vulnerability. The word itself is from the Latin root, 'cor' meaning 'heart' - so real courage is doing that which requires your heart to be seen." - Toko-pa

Artwork by Mi-Kyung Choi
"So often we armour ourselves thinking we are sparing others the burden of our pain, but the truth is that we are depriving them the opportunity to nurture. Our vulnerability is what brings out compassion in others. As Rumi says, 'Where lowland is, that's where water goes. All medicine wants is pain to cure.'" -Toko-pa

Artwork by Sheri Howe
Copyright © 2016 Toko-pa, All rights reserved.


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