Every other week I have the distinct pleasure of partaking in a woman’s group in the community in which I live in Northern Israel. The woman’s group, which was informally started almost a year ago and has grown to a bi-weekly gathering of about 10 – 12 women, has a multi-focused purpose. Mainly the goal is to gather and grow as individuals in an effort to move forward both as people and as community members. We also get the chance to do inner work and get to know our friends and neighbors on a more intimate level.
Most weeks, I’m happy to go.
Some weeks, however, I have PMS…and I am too raw and irritable to handle deep thinking or to listen with care and compassion to other people’s inner struggles.
Often on those nights, I leave the meeting a bit frustrated with my inability to understand the nuances of conversational Hebrew, and/or emotionally drained.
This week, our women’s group meeting fell on a PMS week. As much as I needed a night off from family time, I was worried how women’s group was going to mesh with my hormones
But lovely Linda was facilitating, which eased my concerns some because Linda is an art therapist, and her activities are ones I typically enjoy and move in and out of with ease. They don’t usually release the beast…or require too much Hebrew.
I was right. Her exercise was relaxing — essentially a visualization activity, but the way Linda positioned it to the group was like this:
Take ten minutes to imagine a dream world. A place of your choosing. There are no boundaries; no limitations. What does that world look like? Who are you there? What are you doing?
As soon as Linda handed us a sheet of paper and said go, I leapt into action. Without thinking at all, I started writing a sequential list. And this is what it looked like when I finished:
1. Money is no obstacle. There is limitless money.
2. When money is no obstacle, I have freedom to choose from a place where money is not an obstacle.
3. I write for a living. I wake up in the morning and I make myself an espresso. (I edited this from the original. Espresso is a necessity in my dream world.)
I sit down at a lovely wooden desk with a view and I write for one hour. Then I exercise my body. Then my cook and my massage therapist arrive. My cook stocks the kitchen with healthy, yummy food that my family all loves. She prepares our lunch and dinner. My massage therapist gives me a treatment for about an hour. I eat my healthy yummy lunch…slowly. I nap. I write or create some more. I pick up my kids at 4 pm. I enjoy them. We eat a yummy healthy dinner together. We laugh.
4. Once a week (maybe twice) my husband and I go out alone. Sex is sometimes involved.
5. We vacation often, and in luxury.
6. We discover the cure for food allergies and for all cancer.
7. We discover the secret to world peace, too. We implement it.
8. All my previous wrongdoings are forgiven.
9. I clean up all loose ends. I am free of guilt and emotional baggage.
10. I complete my book. It changes the way people think about themselves (for the better). It changes the way people treat each other.
11. My book is transformational. It brings an abundance of love into the world.
12. The abundance brought about by my book brings abundance into my own life.
13. I am extraordinarily happy and at peace.
14. And, most of all, I’ve managed to not mess up my kids or my marriage along the way.
As I completed the exercise, I had an overwhelming, yet unexplainable feeling that the entire kit and kaboodle was actually attainable. From the smallest triumph (write for a living) to the largest (world peace), that somehow the solution was as simple as imagining it.
I know for most people this concept is heresy — that all it takes to solve a problem is to dream up the answer. That all it takes to live the life we imagine, is to imagine it.
I mean, really, if it was as easy as all that, why haven’t we achieved world peace or cured cancer already?
And I see the truth in this way of thinking.
And yet, I see the truth in the accessibility of all I list above.
Really, what are dreams?
Are they involuntary and insignificant images that pop up during sleep? Are they the stories we concoct and ruminate over during our waking hours? The visions of the not so distant tomorrow that terrify us? That keep us in unhappy relationships or stressful jobs?
Are these really our dreams?
Or are our dreams the vehicles with which we create our reality?
One could say this visualization practice of mine the other night was no different from the anxious thoughts that keep us from doing what we really want. Except, in this case I let my mind spiral towards all that I want — not all that I am afraid of.
In the past, I’ve daydreamed a wish into reality. I bet you have, too.
My dream to fall in love. My dream to have children. My dream to move to Israel.
Once upon a time, those were dreams written out on a piece of paper — in a journal, or on an application.
And now, those dreams are my reality.
How do we reconcile this truth with the one we sell ourselves everyday? That dreams don’t come true?
Everything, in fact, begins as a dream.
And therefore everything — from personal cook to world peace — is ours for the taking.
Jen Maidenberg is a writer, editor, activist and former assistant editor at the Arizona Jewish Post. She posted the above on her blog on Aug. 9, 2012. Visit her website at http://jenmaidenberg.com/