A parking lot moment


After driving for an hour and a half to Newtown, Conn., I was pleased to discover SOUND: A Center for Music, Creative Arts & Mindfulness, housed in a charming little historic chapel along the scenic rural highway.

I didn’t know much about the Center before this morning, but as soon as I saw the adorable, cheerful, tidy, and inviting building from the roadside, I was smitten.

I was there to lead a dream workshop, and had arrived a half hour before the workshop was to begin. As I pulled into the empty parking lot, so did another car, from which emerged a young couple and a 6-year-old girl.

We greeted one another and I learned that the woman was visiting the Center to investigate the possibility of offering her skills as a hypnotherapist to the slate of healing arts offered at SOUND. I told her and her family that I was there to do a workshop on dreams.

“Do you remember your dreams?” I asked the little girl.

“Sometimes,” she said. Then, cozying up a little closer to her dad, “Sometimes I have scary dreams.”

“Do you tell your parents when you have a scary dream?” I asked.

She nodded. “And what do they say?” I asked.

“They say,  ‘Stop having scary dreams!’ ” she said.

Her parents laughed. “I think we do a little better than that,” her dad said.

I’m sure they do, too. They seemed to be a very loving and close family.

Within minutes we’d all gone our separate ways, but the conversation stuck with me for two reasons.

For the love of children’s dreams

For one, I remember being a little girl myself and telling my parents my dreams, and being greeted with incredulity. They’d laugh and tell me what an imaginative girl I was to make up such bizarre stories. Now that I’m a dream therapist, I like to remind parents to take children’s dreams seriously—or even playfully—but most importantly to listen to and respect what the child is saying. As well-meaning adults we often say “It’s only a dream,” but when you’re a child there’s no “only” about it. To a child (or to anyone who loves their dreams) a dream is an experience that’s as important as any experience encountered when awake.

People often ask me how best to respond to children’s dreams and nightmares. There is a lot I could say in response to that question, but the simplest answer is to listen. Your child is offering you a window into her hopes, fears, and concerns when she shares a dream. So stop for a moment and pay attention.

The dream of a safe and peaceful night’s sleep for all

The other reason that conversation in the parking lot stuck with me is that I was in Newtown, Conn., just 5 miles from where the Sandy Hook School shootings took place less than a year ago. The little blonde girl I spoke with was six years old. I don’t know if she and her family lived in Newtown, or if she was in a kindergarten or preschool class that day, and I didn’t ask. But I couldn’t help but wonder how her dreams, and those of children in general have been affected by what happened.

Coming to Newtown to lead a dream workshop reminded me that we all desire, and should have the right to expect, a sense of safety when we turn off the lights and go to sleep. Among the many horrors violence brings, one worth noting is that violence in all of its forms robs us of this basic human need: to feel safe and secure in our beds at night.

A healing dream come true

Workshop Room at SOUND Center.

Workshop Room at SOUND Center.

Minutes after meeting the little girl and her parents in the parking lot, Jennifer Zulli arrived. Zulli is founder and owner of SOUND, a center for healing, music, and art, and while I’d spoken to her by phone and email, we now met for the first time.

From Jennifer I learned that the idea for creating SOUND came to her in a dream. After seeing a vision of rooms filled with music and healing, she put her all – including her time, talent, and resources into fixing up the former wedding chapel on Hawleyville Road.

After she and her husband gutted the building, and filled the interior with cozy corners decorated with candles, stained glass, crystals, art … and of course pianos, drums, and other musical instruments … she announced the opening date for SOUND: December 15, 2012.

Which of course turned out to be the day after the tragic massacre of 28 people, including children and their teachers, which took place on December 14. This was a tragedy of unspeakable proportions, touching the lives of countless friends, family members, community members, and everyone else who bore witness to the events of that day directly or indirectly through media coverage.

After spending a day at SOUND and hearing Jennifer’s story, I was deeply touched by what a beautiful gift of healing Jennifer, in partnership with her dreams, has offered … and just in time.

If you live in or near Newtown, Conn., I hope you’ll visit SOUND. The healing, joy, and beauty available there is worth the drive.