Doing the Work – What Does That Even Mean?

Hello all! 

I have been having some great conversations with my amazing dreamers about what is spiritual practice, what is it to have one – and what does that have to do with “doing the homework/work” from our dream work.


In the early years of doing my own work with dreams and then working with dreamers with their dreams, I worked with the idea of having “homework” from my dream sessions, something I learned from one of my dreamwork teachers. Meaning, we took what came from the session and brought it to a place where I could apply it or work with it in my waking life between sessions. The idea was, then, to come back to the next session and “report” on if I did my homework or not. Often, there was some literal thing “to do” or “not do” and so the reporting came around these things.

Homework. It is not a great word for anything dreaming, in so many ways. 

What arises around our consciousness from opening dreams is work, of course. We work with the energy and magic of our dreams, bring it into learning and apply it to our lives. I do love calling it work, the work, doing my work because it is just that. Work. But while it is not always easy, not necessarily fun –  it can also be fun, challenging, hilarious and delightful. All of which is a kind of work.

Dreaming is not school [well, not exactly!] and we do not have to be dutiful students coming back to sessions with examples of some choreographed homework or ideas of homework to turn in to our dreamwork practitioner who will then check our work and tell us if we did it right or not. This way of assigning homework and having expectations around the “doing” of it comes from an old way of learning – one that is quite patriarchal and honestly archaic.

It is a way that implies “right” and “wrong” when it comes to how to be with our work. “Rights” and “wrongs” filtered through another’s ideas of right and wrong and how to “do the work” instead of based on the dreamer and the dreamer’s needs.

The Schoolmaster by 
Albrecht Dürer

No, how we engage our work from and with our dreams, how we find our way to be with what arises with our dreams is incredibly unique to each of us. There is no wrong way to do our work and there is no right way. There is the way we find that is ours.

I think of this around any and all spiritual practices, in truth, because we are all crazily unique and creative beings. How could doing our work be anything but unique and creative to us?

Some dreamers I work with do not even think about the work we do in session, do not really pause in their day-to-day to “do their work” and this is their way of being with it. They dive deeply in session, they are open and vulnerable and feisty and have their storms in session and in their lives, but they do not feel the need to consciously bring something from the sessions to their days.

Some dreamers I work with make the work from our sessions into prayers or meditations, have altars and put images from their dreams onto their altars. Some dreamers create from their dreamwork – they may do visual art or poetry or fiction or creative nonfiction. Some dreamers, sometimes, set timers on their phones every few hours to remind themselves of their work.

All of the ways we find to be with our dreams and our dreamwork, are perfect, gorgeous, interesting and inspiring. 

The most important element is this – does it resonate? Does it feel true? Does the way you work with your work feel right to you? This is how to know – and this is how to curate our practice.

Curate our practice. Meaning, we get to decide and delve into the ways to be with our practice and even to define what that even means.

Do I incorporate my dreamwork into prayer or meditation or bring it on runs with me? Do I journal about it or draw it or think about it on my way to my job? Do I do my work in my sessions and then let that naturally integrate without trying to think about it too much? Do I speak with others about it or keep in utterly private?

It is one of the things I love about dreaming, working with dreams. That it is a private practice, it is between me and my dreams and my definition of the divine. My dreaming is my dreaming. My work with my dreaming is also mine. Our dreams encourage us to find our way, to trust ourselves – to learn by feeling what feels true and what resonates. 

It is part of how the dreams work with us to find ourselves. Which is why there is no right or wrong – just what feels true.