Sunday, December 9, 2018

liquid grace...

I write here so often about the importance of letting ourselves feel our feelings as they rise, that feelings are the conversation we have with soul and the divine…but it’s not easy. Most of us have spent so much time learning to not feel. If we’re working with our dreams we will be brought again and again to a moment where there is a feeling or an unfelt feeling and the dream wants to teach us about this place, how to recover this quality of our soul. If we’re not doing dreamwork we can still learn to drop into a feeling to find the healing there. 

A feeling to learn to stay with might be, for example, sadness. When it starts to rise…to discover that it’s trustworthy…how sadness is a grace…a liquid grace that can move through us and heal us. And if tears rise, all the better, salty water that is necessary to conduct electricity…the electrifying connection of our soul to the divine. As we learn to trust our sadness we let it move through us as it will…all the way through. We don’t try to name it, figure out why we’re sad…we let it have its way with us. 

Since I was a girl I’ve known this place of sadness rising…an ineffable longing…or a deep loss. I discovered I could be with it, honor it, deepen it…by playing a piece of sad music…music that was even sadder than I may be at that moment. The music became the catalyst for the sadness to move. It might take ten minutes…it might take a whole evening…but something in me knows to honor the sadness.  I can’t say I was able to do that for all feelings; it took working with my dreams for me to even know there were feelings underneath that needed and wanted to be felt…but there was something about sadness I always trusted…it is incredibly personal and intimate.

Over the years there have been a number of musical pieces that supported this movement of sadness through my body and, for me, I have found that Barber’s Adagio for Strings will open me fully to the sadness…dropping into the exact place where the bow meets the violin strings…the notes, like tears, flood my body.

This has now evolved into a meditation and a teaching for me.  Listening to Barber’s Adagio for Strings, I am Dante being guided by Virgil through my own inferno…being shown the places I’m disconnected or stuck, places I’ve been deeply hurt, places I’ve deeply hurt others. I never know what I’ll be shown in those moments…but there is neither shame nor blame nor story…there is just the healing liquid grace of sadness.

Next time you feel sadness rising, if you can, don’t push it down or walk away from it. Consider immersing yourself in the feeling waters of a piece of music that evokes even more sadness and let the music, the tears, move through you…they know what to do.

(Image: River of Tears by Echo Brosnan)

Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at

Sunday, December 2, 2018

our words matter...

Our thoughts and our words matter. With our words we can either uplift or diminish ourselves or another… our words can heal or hurt. Many of us carry with us into adulthood the wounds of word…scars that cut into our very soul….beliefs about ourselves that are not true. 

Do you remember the incredible work of the late Dr. Masaru Emoto? 

He “discovered that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward them…and that water exposed to loving words shows brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, water exposed to negative thoughts, form incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors.”

What is in our thoughts or on our lips for a moment can become a heavy burden another carries for a lifetime. To feel into these striking images of how the vibration of our thoughts and words affect water crystals….and to imagine what we would see if we saw the results of what our thoughts and words do to ourselves and  each other.

Our dreams show us this…how we were formed from the words that poured onto us and into us. These then became beliefs about ourselves and others. Are the characters in our dreams, including ourselves, whole and healthy, vibrant and alive…or are they damaged, fearful and aggressive. How we were spoken to is often how we learned to speak to and think about ourselves and others…and how we think of and speak to the most tender part of ourself…our child soul. Our dreams bring us these encounters, not to judge or shame us, but to help us understand the deep and lasting affect of the words spoken to us and by us and to help us learn….no, remember…the truer en-souled way of speaking.


Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

peeling a carrot...

In 2003, I experienced the third recurrence of breast cancer and was now stage 4. By that point we were running through chemo drugs and radiation limits and this would be the fifth chemo to be tried.  Each one had its own unpleasant side affect, the most common being hair loss. This next one was no different and along with the hair loss was the loss of taste. As a foodie, as a scratch cook, this was harder for me to deal with than the hair loss. For a full year I could not taste anything. 

As difficult and challenging as it is to experience cancer, that’s not what this writing is about…after all I’m still here…taste buds and all. I want to share one of the many teachings I received during this time.

One day I had come home from school and went into the kitchen to prepare dinner…a dinner I would’t be able to taste. As I stood at the counter peeling a carrot, something I had done thousands of times…I stopped.  Tears rose.  For me it wasn’t just about the dish, how it would look, how it would taste…it was the sound of the carrot peeler, the cool texture of the carrot in my hand, the garden smell, the color change from dark skin to bright orange. There was something more than final dish…something more personal and connected.

It was the process.

From age 16 on I loved working with food, yes, how it tasted but also how it felt in my hands, how different foods came together to create something new and wonderful…how I slowly learned to go from recipes to experimenting, to learning what complemented each other, enhanced each other, ways to be in relationship with and honor food.

Perhaps it was said best by my nephew when he was four years old.  He was up to his elbows in his salad and my sister said, “What are you doing?” He replied, “If you’re afraid to touch your food you’ll never be a good cook.”  She said, “You learned that from Aunt Mary Jo didn’t you?” Yes…

I’m not afraid to touch my food. I love how smells fill the kitchen, how working with fresh ingredients deepens my connection to the earth, how I can express my respect for animals and plants. Standing in the kitchen in that moment, carrot in hand, I knew an underlying truth…I love my time spent with the gifts of the earth. There may be other planets, other galaxies where life is incredible…but oh how earth pulled out all the stops on nourishing us with her diversity and bounty.

If we only have our eyes on the goal, the final result…then we miss what may be the most important experience…the intimacy of relationship when we are writing, drawing, painting, carpentry, gardening, sewing, cooking…stepping into a dream…the moment that we are connected to the whole, a participant in the miracle of our human life.

(Image: Peeling a Carrot by takitakos)

Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

gratitude and grief...

November is a time when we are heading into the holidays…a time when we are expected to give thanks and be grateful for what we have…a time we find ourselves in the midst of our families…with our myriad memories and traditions.

For many this can be a difficult thing to do, an overwhelming expectation, especially if our world, our life, our health, our relationships are less than satisfying. We may be grieving the death of a loved one, loss of a relationship, a job. We may feel alone in the world. Gratitude can be hard to come by in these situations.

In a place where we might want to feel some compassion, some kindness towards ourselves we can develop an ‘if only’ attitude. If only I had a partner, if only my loved one hadn’t died, if only…if only…if only…then we would be happy and grateful for our life. We keep postponing living and experiencing of our life until some future date when everything comes together.

Or we might dismiss our difficult feelings, believing that life is a sliding scale, “Well, others have it worse so I shouldn’t feel badly about my own loss or grief.” We don’t even allow ourselves these painfully tender moments of loneliness.

How do we find our way through these times…which is life itself? How do we, each in our own given circumstances, find a measure of wholeness? There are really quite a few, including exploring our dreams and the unique and personal support and teaching they bring each night.

Our dreams know that many of us may struggle with support in the outer world so they show us the support we have in the inner world…dream figures who come to us in kindness, love and support. Being in this inner relationship…feeling the love…we begin to love ourselves…and that is who we become in the outer world.

Our dreams also won’t let these ways of thinking…whether we are negative or resigned…go unchallenged.  They show us with great directness what role we play and choices we make in our living a fulfilling or unfulfilling life.  Then, as always, it is our choice to look at this aspect of ourselves and work with it or not.

To find the healing and wholeness in our dreams is neither an easy nor a quick fix…but it is a true and thorough one.

(Image by Edward Hopper)

Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at

Saturday, November 17, 2018

the princess and the pea...

There is a bit of a glorious teaching running just under the surface of most fairy tales, isn’t there? …a deeper story, easily missed, that wants to help connect us to soul. 

Through the different characters in fairy tales we are shown how we all have challenges along the way, have shadow parts of ourselves to deal with and yet, arriving throughout, in amazing disguises, are teachers and helpers along the way.  All with the purpose of helping us remember who it is we truly are…that we are the sons and daughters of something breathtaking…a soul lineage that connects us to the divine.

Do you remember the fairy tale “The Princess and the Pea”? This is the story of a young woman whose royal lineage was tested.  The story of a princess so sensitive that regardless of the beauty in her life…could feel the pain of the tiniest dissonance...the pea under her piled high mattresses...the subtlest disconnect from her soul, from her inner life.  To be that much in alignment with soul! 

Meditation teacher Chogyam Trungpa used to say that our hearts should be so tender…so raw…that even the tiniest of mosquitos landing on our heart would cause great pain.

We all come from this lineage but most of us have forgotten our birthright…to feel what soul feels. What can a world do to someone who has the capacity to feel everything?…their joy and sadness, love and pain, fear and courage…to someone who can be vulnerable…who can stay present with all of it. That sensitivity is our greatest potency.

(Image: Princess and the Pea by Edmond Dulac)

Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

e.t. and elliot....

One of the incredible awarenesses that emerge when we begin to work with our dreams is how little access many of us have had to our feelings. 

Up until then we think we know our feelings. What most of us have are thoughts, opinions, judgments and even emotional reactions, that is a true feeling covered over with a reaction, which protects us from the deeper feeling underneath, be it love, pain, joy, sorrow, fear…

A dream client of mine, an incredibly smart fellow, has experienced this struggle most of us do we make the descent from our head to our heart? How do we make the move from the mind which likes to talk about feelings to the heart which lets us feel them?  

Dream by dream he became more willing to feel underneath the reaction and his inner work deepened. He began to recognize and stay open to the supportive relationships in his dreams. During a particularly  difficult moment in a dream, where he (any of us) would usually have turned to worry or to caretaking...he did something new...something remarkable. He felt his usual anxiety in that moment, didn’t go to his head, to judging, fixing...instead he turned to the difficult feeling underneath it all...the pain of lack of connection. 

Taking a breath into the pain…letting it move…he started to feel what was under the reaction…under the pain…his desire for connection...and turned to the beloveds in the dream. In that movement of turning towards them... he felt the love, was in the love. We sat in silence in this new feeling for a few moments letting it, too, move through him and then he said quietly, “This reminds me of a scene from E.T.”

Scientist: You said it (E.T.) has the ability to manipulate its own environment?
Michael: He's smart. He communicates through Elliott.
Scientist: Elliott thinks its thoughts.
Michael: No, Elliott...Elliott feels his feelings.

Elliott feels his feelings. To be connected to others, not through our thoughts, our mind but through our hearts...our souls...through the feeling connection... 

Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at

Friday, November 9, 2018

dream spelunking...

I spend a lot of time inside people’s dreams.  It’s what I imagine spelunking might be like, with the cave being our psyche and me and the dreamer being two explorers going in with curiosity, openness…and a bit of fear. 

We take a lantern and leave the familiar world of our outer life on the surface and begin the descent into the darkness, into unknown places. We stop often along the way, shining questions into some of the darker corners, not sure what we’ll find but both with a willingness to look at whatever it is we do feel into it. They come to learn and then to trust that they aren’t alone on this journey, that there is support each step of the way…from me and more importantly from someone or something in their dream.  

What we find is often nothing less than unhealed wound that wants to be healed...a remembered loving connection…a clearing of their vision, a coming back into the body…a return of their capacity to feel into and be with all of who they are, a dropping from the mind into the heart…a return to soul. 

And when, an hour later, we emerge from the depths...we are both somehow changed.  Often we sit quietly for a few moments...perhaps there are tears...having returned to the outer world with a new feeling...a new awareness...a closer connection to soul. We stay in that place for a few moments together...humbled in a way...knowing we just experienced a kind miracle.

Mary Jo Heyen is a certified Natural Dreamwork Practitioner working with clients in person, phone or Skype. Learn more about her work with dreams at