Pain And Dreaming


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What is the relationship between pain and dreaming? This slide presentation was part of an in which five IASD members from diverse backgrounds explored how pain and dreaming influence each other through art, vampire imagery, coping with cancer, shamanism, and embodied dreamwork.

In my presentation, I focused on how the pain of endometriosis has influenced my dreams and art. Working with my dreams through art, massage and embodied dreamwork, I have gained tremendous insights into pain which has helped me to cope more effectively, transforming despair and fatigue into hope and healing.

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  • Picasso drawing, downloaded 6-6-09 this presentation I intended to review my pain notes from the past 10 years and compare the dreams and art just before and during the pain episodes. I found that reviewing the dreams was really hard and many times I became overwhelmed with emotion and memories of how helpless and frustrated I felt during the times of acute pain. So in the end, I decided to just review the material and let the dreaming lead the development of this presentation. It was a very healing process for me to see how the dreams, art, pain and pleasure all fit together.
  • My presentation will cover four main periods. The first period of my presentation will focus on the abrupt shifts that were began to take place in my body with perimenopause and in my art with the healing collage process. In the second part, I will focus on a major turning point in my health management that came as a result of a severe allergic reaction to sulfa antibiotics.Next I will describe the integrative approach I took to manage my health and pain after a major cancer scare and surgery.Finally, I will close with a brief description of where I am today.
  • I spent more than 17 years seeking help in the UK, Japan and USA for severe abdominal pain before I learned that the cause of it was endometriosis. Many books describe the pain of endometriosis as being similar to childbirth. Having experienced both, I’d have to say that’s a good description of what it is like. For those of you who do not know what endo is, I’d like to give you a brief description. Can you see these growths on the ovaries in this illustration? They are endometrial cells from the uterus. No one knows why for sure, but in some women, like myself, these cells travel outside of the uterus and implant themselves on other organs throughout the body. Supposedly, they have been found as far away as the lungs and brain. Since they are endometrial cells, they continue to swell with the ebb and flow of a woman’s hormonal cycles. When they are inside of the uterus, once a month when they are all swollen and full of blood, they are shed and become a woman’s menstruation. When these cells are outside of the uterus, however, there is no place for them to be shed from the body, so they swell until they finally burst, sending new endometrial implants throughout the abdominal area and beyond. In advanced cases of endometriosis, thick adhesions and chocolate cysts form which then rupture casing terrific pain. In my case, the left side of my pelvic cavity is so full of endometriosis and adhesions that my doctor said that she could now not even get directly to my ovaries during exploratory surgery to find the source of my pain. Because these implants move around the pelvic area, each month, the pain may be in a different area, depending on where the implants are. This can be extremely frustrating for both the woman and her health care providers.
  •“What are Endometriomas/Chocolate Cysts? This disease process is also known as Endometriosis of the ovaries. Tiny implants of cells that line the uterine cavity become transplanted and form small cysts on the outside of the ovary. These cysts enlarge and produce Endometriosis of the ovary. They respond to hormone stimulation during the menstrual cycle and produce many small cysts, which may then occupy and even replace the normal ovarian tissue.

Theseendometriomas are filled with a thick chocolate-type material, which is the reason they are known as "chocolate cysts". When this type of ovarian cyst ruptures, the material spills over into the pelvis and onto the surface of the uterus, bladder and bowel and the corresponding spaces between. Adhesions can develop because of this rupture and may lead to pelvic pain.”
  • At the same time, there was a huge shift in my creative energy. Once our son Satoshi was placed with us for adoption, it was soon clear that I wouldn’t be able to continue teaching art at our local college or exhibit. At the time, it was clear he had some very serious developmental delays, but we still didn’t know that it was autism. Cutting up my art work story here.
  • A Timely Breakthrough, October, 1998Marital strife, exhaustion with children,
  • Passionate Longing, 1999
  • Bearded Lady photo, downloaded 6/6/09
  • The Tornado is Back, May 23, 1999
  • Dates of dreams: 2-27-99, 5-1-99,9-2-00, 12-22-00
  • 2.16.1999Living with the Reality of This Body, 1999
  • 3-30-01
  • Child
  • Bearded Lady photo, downloaded 6/6/09
  • Healing the Whole Person, March 8, 2007
  • St. Sebastian by El Greco 6/6/09
  • Pain And Dreaming

    1. 1. Pain & Dreaming<br />Endometriosis, Dreams, and Art<br />Sheila McNellis Asato, M.A.<br />2009 IASD Conference, Chicago<br />
    2. 2. Starting Point <br />The Proposal<br />In this multi-media presentation, Asato will show how the pain of endometriosis has influenced her dreams and art. Working with dreams through art, massage, acupuncture and embodied dreamwork, she has gained tremendous insights into pain which have helped her to cope more effectively, transforming despair and fatigue into hope and healing. <br />
    3. 3. Presentation<br />Outline<br />Creative & Hormonal Shifts in Art & Dreams<br />Healing Collage℠ and perimenopause<br />Emergence of Healing Wisdom – Deer Girl<br />Severe allergic reaction & major turning point in health<br />Conscious Pain & Pleasure – S & M Chamber<br />The name of the pain is endometriosis<br />Integrative Healing & Relationship<br />Where I am today<br />
    4. 4. Belly Aching<br />Inner & Outer Pain<br />Stage Four Endometriosis<br />17+ years seeking relief in Japan, UK & USA<br />Struggles with children<br />Autism & depression<br />Sleep deprivation<br />Adoption court battle<br />Marriage troubles<br />International move<br />
    5. 5.
    6. 6. Creative Shifts<br />A New Form Emerges<br />Healing Collage℠ begins October 1998<br />
    7. 7. A Timely Breakthrough, October, 1998<br />
    8. 8. Hormonal Shifts<br />Passion Then Destruction<br />Emerging themes in dreams & art<br />Experience in the body – increasing sensuality & pain<br />
    9. 9. Perimenopause<br />The Volcano<br />March 16, 1999<br />I'm putting all the books in the house into boxes. Then I bring them all to a high mountain shaped like Fuji San. I bring the boxes all up to the top one by one. I put them down into the big open space inside of the brilliant red and orange volcano. Someone will take care of them from there. <br />
    10. 10. Perimenopause<br />Old Enough to Have a Beard<br />March 17, 1999<br />I'm looking in the mirror to pluck some black hairs off of my chin. The more I pluck, the more that grow back. Pretty soon my entire chin is covered with straight long, thin, black hairs pointing downwards, like the hair on my legs. I finally give up on plucking them and decided to just have a beard instead. I guess I'm old enough to have a beard now so it won't really matter.<br />
    11. 11. Exquisitely beautiful skies, helpers & serpents<br />Volcanoes, tornadoes, bitter cold, death, and destruction.<br />
    12. 12. Sensuality<br />Abdominal Pain<br />Powerful Animals<br />
    13. 13. Pain Dreams<br />“Someone has broken into the house and has set the basement on fire. The young guy just stands there unable to help.” <br />“I have been captured on a winter Mountain. They are going to kill us. They make us drink gasoline. It makes our enemy's neck split open in the back.”<br />“I am on a battlefield. Both sides have tigers for privates. The battle begins and many die. There are men and women soldiers on both sides carrying big arrow lances. The lone tigers have the lances also, strapped to their bodies like battering rams.” <br />“I am on a movie set of a big cutter ship. They are raising the mast and a man gets caught in the ropes. He is dangling upside down up in the air and can't get untangled.”<br />
    14. 14. Living with the Reality of This Body, 1999 <br />
    15. 15. Ruptured Cysts<br />Change of Life Exhibition<br />March 30, 2001<br />There is a naked woman up against a sheer rocky face of a mountain. She is in the center of a cold, yellowish thundering waterfall screaming and crying. The woman is part of the rocky face of the mountain. She can't get out. There is a clay sewer pipe encasing her torso. Her crotch is bare and exposed. Her feet are on rocks. <br />Her three to four year old daughter is trying to reach up to comfort her mama. On another wall is a woman imprisoned in grief. She is confined in the wall in anger. Next to her, on the wall, is a deep dark hole which opens up into the basement.<br />
    16. 16. Emerging Health<br />New Consciousness Emerges<br /><ul><li>Severe allergic reaction to Western medicines
    17. 17. Decision to stop all medications
    18. 18. Take charge of own health</li></li></ul><li>Healing Dream<br />Deer Child & Her Belly Map<br />January 15, 2000<br />A skittish deer cautiously approaches me from the left side. I can see that it's not a real deer, but a small creature made to look like one by covering itself in tree bark. It tells me ”My folks immigrated to Virginia years ago and left me behind because of my handicaps." It points to a primitive map etched out on its belly and says, “This is how I was able to survive in the forest." <br />I take the creature into my friend's home where I bathe it. Under the layers of birch bark and twigs, there is a wild child inside. A girl. She has a deformed left hand like a club that hangs awkwardly at her side. An older woman says "Why don't you hold the child?" and I reply, "Because I don't know if I can keep her. It might be more than I can handle.” I think in time I'll be able to care for her. I can see already how much we need each other. <br />
    19. 19. Endometriosis<br />Plan for Healing<br /><ul><li>Organic Food
    20. 20. Acupuncture and Herbs
    21. 21. Massage
    22. 22. Embodied Imagination Work</li></li></ul><li>Pain & Pleasure<br />The S & M Chamber<br />April 7, 2007<br />A naked, castrated man is standing under the fan with the knives hanging from it that hit his body as it swings around, cutting him. He is standing like St. Sebastian. As it spins around, the knife blades slice his torso. His feet are nailed together, like Christ on the cross. It is very sad. We got here in time, before he killed himself.<br />
    23. 23. Dreamwork<br />Embodied Imagination<br />Inviting dreams into the body<br />Learning new ways of living in the body<br />
    24. 24. Composites & Touch<br />Bodywork<br />Awakening the Dream<br />
    25. 25. Making Love on Meat<br />March 12, 2006 <br />I am in a refrigerator, a large family kitchen one like our new silver-grey fridge. There are three packages of thawed out meat in there on the shelf. A man comes, my lover. He's the Japanese actor from "Shall We Dance?" He lowers me into the fridge, onto the packages of meat. I pull the plastic back to make sure to cover them and not expose the meat directly to the air or spill the red juices. He kisses me passionately and we make love. It's very pleasant.”<br />
    26. 26. Living Composites<br />Elephants<br />Healing Companions<br />
    27. 27. November 6, 2006 <br />Jeff comes in to give me a massage. I am happy for this time to work together. I am also a little anxious and sober to the reality of this work. It will be painful. My abdomen starts to tighten. I look up and see that he has an embroidered elephant on his jacket. <br />I relax immediately and smile. He is hiding his right hand in his sleeve. I am delighted to catch a glimpse of it - his hand is an elephant's trunk. It isn't deformed. He's become a real healer for me. I look back at his face and see that he has become the young Asclepius. <br />Healing Dream<br />Wounded Healer<br />Dreams, Bodies, Relationships, & Ki<br />
    28. 28. Where I am Today<br />Menopause<br /><ul><li>Integrative approach effective
    29. 29. Meaningful relationships essential
    30. 30. Acute abdominal pain gone
    31. 31. Allergies improved significantly</li>