I am spending a few days at a favourite hideout of mine. It’s a health and wellness retreat centre in a relatively undiscovered part of northeastern Ontario. The area is familiar to me as my childhood cottage was not far from here. Unlike the communities that are near well-known and popular lake districts, this one has not changed. Upon entering the town you are welcomed to the mineral capital of Canada. Sitting upon the bedrock granite of the Canadian Shield, the melding of earth energies is palpable as I walk along a path flanked by lush gardens, past a whispering fountain, and through a dark brown door adorned with scrolls of black wrought iron. I have arrived with the intention to rest and reboot my creative mind.

Along with daily yoga, body and soul treatments, and vegan dining, there are evening lectures. While the themes are varied, the foundations of health and well-being, raised consciousness and learning from nature are consistent throughout.

Sitting in the great hall melted into abundant chairs that cocooned us a safe distance from each other, we learned that dreams are both literal and metaphorical. They are a language. They are our teachers. If we choose to be patient, curious and honest with ourselves. The details, whether we recollect many or few, guide our memories to scenarios or events. Gentle inquiry may take us to the feelings we experienced at that time. Recurrent dreams are metaphorical taps on the shoulder. Reminders of emotional baggage. Evidence of patterns in our lives. Or they may be prophetic nudges that we continue to ignore.

Many of us shared the recurrent “writing an exam” dream. We are late for the sitting, can’t find a pen, run out of time, have studied the wrong material — a dream laced with frustration and anxiety. I have a recurrent dream about packing a suitcase. I’ve left it too late and I’m running out of time. I keep finding things to pack – drawers to be emptied. And the suitcase isn’t big enough. Ever. This isn’t about wanting to travel. Or showing poor judgment in how I pack. Or not being planful and organized. The suitcase is a metaphor for my life. The drawers are full of clothes to be packed, the zipper impossible to close. Our facilitator suggested I might be the luggage. How often am I trying to fit too much into the next hour, the day, the week? How often do I lose sight of priorities and boundaries? Get too busy, overwhelmed, overtired? That dream is a testimony to the anxiety created when I take on too much, try to please too many people, lose my balance. It’s a wake-up call from my sleeping self.

At the conclusion of our session, the soft-spoken woman leading the discussion left us with a multifaceted gift of hope. We can learn, evolve and heal by exploring our physical body and unconscious messaging systems. We can learn from the pandemic. In being forced to live in our world more fully, rather than commuting through it to a box in the sky filled with canned air and protected by triple-paned windows, we are experiencing the elements. We are interacting with mother nature as we plant a garden, hike a path, sit around a fire pit. We can’t unknow the effects of climate change that we have witnessed. We can learn that children are resilient. That formal education is critical for the health of a society and a generation. That by being responsible for our own wellbeing, we are contributing to the greater good of the world. That by attending to emotional baggage, my creative energies will be freed.

                                                            At least, that is my experience.