What is Embodied Stringwork?
The Wisdom of Dreams – the Wisdom of the Body
Embodied Stringwork is the process of enacting dreams in a small group setting in order to unlock the wisdom of the dream. But, what does that actually look like? And why would “enacting” dreams be a good thing?
In small group work, at retreats, the process of Embodied Stringwork offers the opportunity to take the energy and potential of the dream and to bring that into a physicalness, into movement, so we can deepen our feeling experience and process offered by the dream. To literally step into our dream with other dreamers holding the space for different people, different objects in the dream, is to open the door between the dream landscape and our waking landscape. It moves us beyond talking about the elements of a dream and into a lived experience.
Our bodies carry deep memory, deep healing potential, deep possibility – as does our consciousness. When we work with the two together, with the dream as the theater, a liminal space opens that is magical, powerful and transformative.
Let me give you an example from one of my own dreams and experience working with the dream in a group.
An Example of Embodied Stringwork
Dream: I see that I have something, a huge ball/tumor-like thing, stuck inside of my throat and that I cannot really breath or speak because of this. It is the same thing I have seen in my mother’s throat, too. Then, somehow, the part of me with the tumor gets peeled away and what is left is me, with a clear throat, surrounded by light.
In Embodied Stringwork, we could work with the dream in this way – I could stand as myself, the dreamer and someone could come behind me and put their hands around my throat as if their hands were the tumor. Someone else could stand as the mother with someone holding her throat as well.
The Embodied Stringwork leader would work with me around the deep issue of voice, speaking, silence, being strangled, being unable to breath inherent in my relationship with my mother, perhaps. And around the fact that she may have had the same issue. That this is part of the legacy of being a woman in my particular family. We would work to uncover the larger context of what this means for me, as the dreamer.
We would also work with the experience of really feeling the tumor in/on my throat. Really feeling the place of no breath, of having a difficult time speaking. And explore what that has been in my life.
Role of the Embodied Stringwork Leader
The leader of Embodied Stringwork is to work in collaboration and tenderness with the dreamer and to hold the space for the deep work of the dreams to emerge. As a leader, I act as the holder of sacred space, the director of the dream theater as it unfolds, as teacher, as collaborator, as guide. Each Embodied Stringwork session is different, unique. The dreams lead the exploration.
To have a guide through the process means the dreamer can be in the experience, can step into what they need to step into while being held with love and tenderness.
Then we would have someone peel the hands off my, the dreamer’s, throat. To feel really into what that is, what it feels like in my body. And we would explore if that is happening in my life – do I feel like I am able to breath and speak more? Do I feel more tenderness around my relationship with my mother? What has changed for me that this is being peeled off?
The simple motion of having something on my throat and then having it removed carries the weight and gravity of a lifetime of working with trauma as well as healing. A lifetime of feeling strangled, strangling myself and even wanting others to not speak at times. A lifetime of working toward finding voice and actually literally finding it underneath the family legacy.
Profound, simple, tender. Always astounding.
The Art of Cross-Pollination
After working the with dream in this way, the group would have space to process the experience. The dreamer, of course, but also the participants. What was it like for the person who played the role of the mother? What was it like to play the role of the tumor? What was it like to witness the peeling off? What issues came up for others around the dreamer’s experience – ie: did it bring up tenderness around places where other people have felt strangled or that they lost their voice? In this way, the Embodied Stringwork acts a kind of cross-pollination process. As each dreamer works with their dreams, the other participants are often touched by being witness or by playing parts in the dreams.
I have been leading Embodied Stringwork retreats since 2004, letting the dreams and the dance with the dreamers continually lead and teach me how to be with the dreams and how to step into the lived experience with them. It is a tender, sacred and powerful process. One I feel humbled to be a part of.