Donna Mazzola is going to be giving a workshop she’s named, Unlocking the Wisdom of Our Dreams on Saturday morning at the Conference. Intrigued at the title, and wanting to discover more, I wrote and asked whether she had time to spare for an interview. Happily it worked out that she was able to stop by my house the other afternoon. I was struck by the gentle, open way she responded to my questions. We began by talking about how her dream work got started:
“My background is varied. I taught elementary school for thirty years. I just left that career last June. But for the last five years I have been doing my own personal work, and one of the ways that I’ve supported myself to do that has been to become a student at Wisdom University, which was formerly known as the Institute for Creation-Centered Spirituality, which came out of the work of Matthew Fox. It has a collective of wonderful teachers, people who are pursuing wisdom. So, it was there, during my studies, that I came upon a course with Jeremy Taylor. He’s been doing projective dream work for over forty years and founded the Marin Institute of Projective Dreamwork. At the time, I was simply wanting to get a certificate in Wisdom Spirituality but then, when I took his class, everything clicked into place. And I thought, “This is why I’m here”.
It isn’t that I only began to think about dreams with his course. I’ve been doing my own dream work intensely for six years. And off an on through my life – since my twenties, I suppose – I’ve kept dream journals. In the 80’s, I was influenced by people like Morton Kelsey and his writings. The main thing for me was that I had this sense that dreams were not just some arbitrary way of us processing our day, that there was more to it than that. Could it actually be that it was a personal way that Spirit could communicate with us, about our ‘stuff’, about our issues?
Because everybody dreams.
“Right, we all dream. And my dreams are different from yours. Yet, there’s also this pool that’s beyond us which has this collective imagery. We all can say, “Yes, I had a dream about a horse running” or, “I dreamt about my pipes leaking”..So there’s this level of universal archetypal unconscious that we all kind of dive into, and then there are our own personal symbols. I’ve been very influenced by Jungian thought. I probably was attracted to Jeremy’s work because he also leans toward the Jungian perspective. In fact the course I took from him was called, Jung as Mystic.
So, that’s kind of how it all started. And I then found out that Jeremy offered a certification in projective dream work, so, in addition to the work I was doing at Wisdom University, I chose to do an apprenticeship with Jeremy and become certified as a professional dream worker. It’s the work that I want to do with the second half of my life.
So, that’s what the workshop is going to center on?
“Yes. What I will offer is an answer to what Projective Dreamwork is. There are a lot of ways to work dreams, and this is one of them. It’s a way that I feel is rich. It draws upon the wisdom of the group, and actually uses something that we’re all saddled with – which is our projections.
“Right. So, if I’m coming at everything from the way that I see it (or project it), why can’t I use that to make a contribution to someone that might shed a light on a piece of their dream that they maybe hadn’t considered before?
So, you say you use the group. What does that mean?
“In projective dream work we’re doing work in a group. We would begin by doing a centering exercise of some type. Then we would use a couple of different approaches to figure out what dreams we were going to work on. So, say someone offers a dream, we all listen to that dream. And we all listen to that dream as if it were our own dream. So, once the dream is put in the center of the circle, it becomes the “work” for everyone.
“Right. It’s pretty amazing. Every single time I’ve participated in the process, I’ve never failed to be amazed at the insights individuals get, and that I get, from ‘stealing’ that other person’s dream The whole thing is always to notice what you, yourself are doing. That’s where the insights come, being with the dream that comes up or with whatever’s being shared in the group, and asking “how is that affecting me?”. And that’s where the awareness comes, because the Aha! Experience belongs to each person who’s having that moment with something that they have long forgotten, something that they knew was true about their life, their journey, or whatever – perhaps their was of interacting comes to instruct them.
It’s in the midst of the wisdom of the group.
It sounds wonderful.
“The other thing that I love about this process is that it makes the working with dreams accessible to everybody. Some people may have the opportunity of working with an analyst, but we all don’t have that opportunity or means. This is another way of making the work of dreams available to everybody, and of helping each person to see that they too carry wisdom, both for themselves and for others. And that tendency to have a person sort of be a guru dissipates because each person connects with his or her own wisdom where they can see that they’ve made a contribution to someone else. It might be something they hadn’t thought of before.
Do you see yourself as a kind of guide through this process?
“Yes, I would say a guide, or a facilitator. I see myself as helping to hold the space so that the sharing that’s occurring stays in the first person. It’s not going to have the tone of advising to it. We are always coming from “What if it were my dream?” A dreamer might be speaking about his or her own issues, and this might open up something that someone else needed some insights about.
So, do you say that somehow, the fact that we’re all dreamers kind of naturally eases people into a group type feeling?
“In this particular circle that I’m leading right now at the Sacred Arts Holistic Center, yes, there are people who knew each other, which can also make it a little tricky, and there are people who’ve never shared in this way before. It seemed to happen with ease that we went into that world. We all know that we’re talking about this thing that happens to us every night, these images that play, and this movie that we watch. And we are all asking what do you make of it?
One person had this to say after doing some projective dream work, I just loved it: “I feel so limited by language, and then the dream images arise, a projection is offered, and it causes this ripple effect. I start to make connections. The dream world is messy, murky, dissonant and hard to access. These projections help me to see, help me make bridges. Ultimately, it’s up to me. It’s my work.”
That this workshop is being offered at the Bioneers Conference is important, I think. One of the things I remember being struck by in Jeremy Taylor’s course, and in his books, was that- and it’s my belief- if all of us could tune into the wisdom of our dreams, we would find information that is actually helping us evolve as a human species. As we are tuning into the wisdom of the answers that are there in the dreams, acknowledging the help that’s there helping us, individually and collectively, to evolve, it’s as if we’re being made into the people that we were meant to be. And it’s all part of what we’re doing with Bioneers. A mentor once said to me: We are in the great ‘Between’ where the old stories are no longer relevant, but the new ones have not quite emerged. We are definitely in the time of dreams.”
Jeremy Taylor, The Wisdom of Your Dreams: Using Dreams to Tap Into Your Unconscious And Transform Your Life. New York: Penguin/Tarcher, Oct. 2009
Dreamwork; The Living Labyrinth; Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill
Post by Maren
Tags: Bioneers Conference, Donna Mazzola, Dreams, Dreamwork; The Living Labyrinth; Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill, Institute for Creation-Centered Spirituality, Jeremy Taylor, Jungian perspective, Marin Institute of Projective Dreamwork, Morton Kelsey, Projective Dreamwork, The Wisdom of Your Dreams: Using Dreams to Tap Into Your Unconscious And Transform Your Life, Unlocking the Wisdom of Our Dreams, Wisdom Spirituality, Wisdom University, Workshop