A witness presence

This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending a shamanic workshop about dreams and discovered all sorts of ways to remember dreams, interpret dreams, find resolution, and use dreams to heal ourselves and others. One of these methods involved helping someone complete or finish with a nightmare or a bad dream.

One woman volunteered a nightmare where she was being chased by two men in a house. In the dream, they never find her but she is also unable to find her way out. And she is tremendously frightened and scared. The group reenacted this dream for her with two of the men serving as the chasers and the rest of us forming the walls and rooms of the house.

We completed the exercise with an emotional climax, not just for the woman and the two people chasing her but for those of us who stood as witness to her frantic scurry as she dodged through imaginary doors and hid behind the walls we represented. We heard her breath coming in quiet, rasping gasps. Each and every one of us who was the house admitted afterwards that none of us wanted those men to find her. We resisted the urge to adjust our walls or form doors where there were none. After all, the house did not do that in the dream. Yet, our human spirit could not stand idly by without responding to her predicament and our helplessness.

That is both the blessing and the curse of being a witness: watching without intervening. We witness joyous events, soaking in the pleasure. We also witness events of great sadness and destruction. We are helpless in both circumstances to control the outcomes

Some say that just the act of watching changes the circumstances . . . that if we were not there to act as witness, the outcome would have been different. Our standing as witness walls while the woman completed her nightmare helped her resolve the fear and end the dream.

There is witness presence all around us. It permeates the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe, the clothes we make, the homes we live in. I believe this presence is not benignly neutral. This presence supports us, provides us sustenance and safety. It wants us to live and live well.

As you go through your days, know that you are being watched, and think about what you want your witnesses to see.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

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4 Responses to “A witness presence”

  1. holessence Says:

    Barbara – You’ve served up another hearty helping of food for thought as I go on my way today. Fantastic information for my mind to take in, chew on, and digest.

    Breakfast at Barbara’s is the best way to start the day!

  2. Barbara Kass Says:

    Hi, Laurie — I am so sure that all who witness you in your life see such a wonderful example of loving, healing, and acceptance. If I were a spirit wandering around, I would hang around you all the time to soak up all of that positive energy.

    Some days my breakfast is easier to digest than others . . . 🙂

  3. sandiwhite Says:

    Hi, Barbara, you’re right. There is a witness and although I try to remember to curb my mouth or temper my actions, I very often slip up and the unbridled side of me races to the front, ready to create havoc if need be. Even though I am not afraid of the witness “telling on me”, I am aware of the fact that I have not acted in the best and highest way for the good of all concerned. All dogma aside, I am not fearful of being “sent to hell for my sins”, my idea of hell is separation from God, how much worse can that be? It is just being conscious of the fact that I am not helping but hindering, the witness is my prompter, reminder, or red-flag waving to alert me that some changes should be made. It’s probably my guardian angel screaming in my ear, “watch out!”

    • Barbara Kass Says:

      Hi, Sandi — I am still home nursing my cold/flu/virus/whatever. My feeling as being the witness and being witnessed is that the witness suspends judgment, simply observes what is happening, and can tell the story again if we want it to. We are the ones who judge our words, our thoughts, and our actions. My feeling is that the witness has emotions over what it is witnessing but in no way uses those emotions to interfere or control the outcome. I think of God as being the same way: observing with feeling but without interfering. God and other witnesses might give us support and strength to endure and deal with whatever we have going on in our lives, but they are not going to use their powers to control the outcomes. I can see you rising to the occasion in terms of defending or wanting to keep others in their proper place (that is the hawk in you), but you are also keenly aware of this tendency and that you can choose to behave otherwise. Your witnesses love you still, no matter what behavior you choose.

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