Let’s dream this dream together.” Seido closed her eyes. Gathered in the cave-like library in the heart of the residents’ sleeping hall, we settled into a scene of ancient ruins presented in the dream.

Then one by one, as guided by Seido and Mushin, folks stepped forward to offer a unique vantage point or angle, always beginning with “In my dream…” We wove scenes that flowed from microscopic to cosmic eyes, reimagined voices swelling out of the abyss and took a second look at all the strange and wonderful details in each dream. An army of action figures, a skateboard collision, a spider in a frying pan, cookies zooming through the air, a Boeing 747 landing soft as a butterfly on the roof.

While we did present the possibilities of finding guidance or clarity in dreams as another arena for practice, we did not focus on digging for meaning, but rather on visualizing and recreating the experience of dream reality.

Mixed with seated zazen and open sharing, we delved into the rich inner workings of our dream lives. Abided in the dreamlike nature of this so-called waking life, and investigated the real differences, if any, between the two worlds of our awareness. We made chalk pastel dream art, bodily acted out bizarre scenes from our dreams, and even “dreamed into” one residents’ living nightmare of anxiety, reframing her daily mind struggles from the more detached perspective of simply watching a dream play out.

After the retreat, several people made comments on the connection and playfulness uniquely brought out by this retreat, expressing deep affinities for the other participants and the desire to find more ways of cultivating that energy at the monastery. We left with strong zeal to continue strengthening dream recall, increase awareness of the experience of dreaming, and playfully wander through all planes of our lives with that dreamlike sense of receptivity and wonder.

Contact Janet at: stories@zendust.org.