The Dreamers’ Den Series Ep 15: Dreaming Your Genius – How Dreams Reveal Your Role in Global Healing (with Leilani Navar)

Dreamers Den Episode 15 Dreaming Your Genius How Dreams Reveal Your Role in Global Healing with Leilani Navar

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts

Click here to listen on Spotify

Click here to listen on iHeartRadio

This one’s for you.

You, who

  • believe you have (or might have…) a role to play in global healing
  • trust that your dreams bring wisdom
  • and want to dive deep with me on the Five Elements, dream + story examples, and how these same energies that tell us about personal health guide us toward collective well-being

On board? Awesome. Click “Play” to hear me share about:

  • the unique “spirit of genius” in every single person (with help from the words of Michael Meade, Sharon Blackie, and Toko-pa Turner)
  • how dreams show where our energy is, and nudge us toward where in the world we’re most needed
  • Chinese Medicine thinking about the one place to intervene that will have the greatest impact on the whole
  • actions and issues in the world that can be associated with each of the Five Elements
  • dream examples (mine, past interviewees’, other dreamers)
  • and why I’m in favor of everyone finding their “genius,” even when we disagree with each other

Grab your dream journal or somewhere to write, so you can note questions or symbols that strike a chord.

Click Play to listen now, or read on if you prefer the written word.

Links to all authors, past episodes, and resources mentioned are at the bottom of this page.

Want to hear a story?

This story was inspired by a parable told by the Quechua people of present-day Ecuador. If you’ve heard it, it may be because it was told widely by the Kenyan activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. As a well-known story, we can also call it a shared dream. This story-dream has all the layers of meaning and sparks for healing that any dream would have. I want you to hear it and see what it sparks in you. 

Once, a forest was on fire. A raging fire, consuming everything, spreading fast, and growing with the wind. Animals fled. From a distance, the bear, the wolf, the elephant, the rabbit, and the owl all watched their home burning. What can we do? They thought. “It’s too hot to go any closer,” said the rabbit. “The smoke is too much,” said the wolf. “We are too small to make a difference,” said the owl. Only a little hummingbird would not abandon the forest. She flew to a stream, picked up a single drop of water in her beak, and flew back to drop it on the fire. Again and again, her little wings humming, never holding still, she picked up drop by drop and took each one to the flames. “Why are you doing this?” the other animals asked. “What difference do you think that will make?” And the hummingbird, still not stopping, said, “I’m doing my part.”

Pause for a second for you to notice your response to this story. It might be positive, negative, strong, indifferent, something else. Simply notice what chords this story strikes in you, or what it brings up for you.

That way it can begin what Michael Meade calls it’s “mythological acupuncture” on you, sticking you right where you need some treatment. 

I’ve also heard this story end with the hummingbird saying, “I’m doing my best,” or, “I’m doing what I can.” Each of those is a little bit different. I love the phrase, “I’m doing my part,” because it implies that each of us does have a part to play. When I told my 6-year-old this story, she asked, “And then what happened?” I told her, “The story doesn’t tell us what happened next. What do you think?” 

I like to think that some of the other animals were impacted by what the hummingbird said and moved to do their own part. Maybe one piece of the hummingbird’s “part” was to inspire and motivate, to shake them out of their objections and their inertia. Maybe, next the elephant takes a whole trunkful of water and lumbers his way back toward the fire, or wets down a boundary line to keep the fire from spreading. 

What do you think happens next?

If this story were my dream, it would be reminding me that even if the material results of my actions are small, that’s not the only measure of my impact. And that everyone has a part to play, which might be very different from my own. In fact, I hope it is very different – I hope there are people playing thousands, millions, billions of different parts.

Where we’re going

I wonder if you know what your part is? If you clicked on this post, I’m thinking you have a sense that you have a role to play in global healing, or you’d like to play some role in it. 

So, do you have any idea right now of what that would be? Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the things that need to be done to get course correction happening for humanity? Or by how tiny you are and how little water you can carry in your beak? I think most of us feel that way in some form, at some point. Most of us are, at one point or another, feeling all the major feelings around climate crisis, and around social, political, economic and health crises: fear, anger, anxiety, worry, and grief. I have heard far more patients in the clinic say that they’re going through panic, or hopelessness, in the last few years than in the few years before that.

Still, I absolutely believe that you have a unique way to be here, and a unique, important role to play. Let’s talk about this idea of “the genius.” The idea that you have gifts within you that serve the world in a way unique to you, and that make your life feel meaningful and fulfilling. (This is the way Michael Meade has been teaching the use of this word, and if you haven’t read or listened to him teach on it, definitely look him up (link at the bottom of this page).) 

Then, I’ll share with you how I view dreams, and why this has anything to do with your genius. I’ll share a few example dreams, too, because I know you love those.

Third, we’ll talk about how the symbolism of classical Chinese Medicine shows up in our dreams – focusing on the Five Elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal – and how that reveals to us what’s going on inside us that’s ready for expression, and also can reveal what outside of us is calling for our attention.

Now, obviously this isn’t a science. This isn’t about taking what dreamworker Toko-pa Turner calls an “acquisitional approach” to dreamwork, turning to our dreams like we’re mining them and going to come out with the gem of an action plan. Really, this is about meaning-making. It’s about connection with what’s unseen, especially what’s unseen with our waking consciousness. 

This is about relating to the creative impulses coming through us when we sleep – ways to find the “ah-ha”s, clarity and satisfaction of being connected to what matters most to us.

The spirit of genius

Here’s an idea for you to try out: You, and I, and every person you have ever known – and every person you will never meet – has something that makes us each unique. Have you ever met two people who are exactly, completely the same? I’m going to assume: no. And isn’t that amazing, if you take a moment for it? The massive scale on which human life exists, and keeps on growing, and still, no duplicates? 

A certain uniqueness to each and every manifestation on Earth is a part of the nature of our world. 

So what if, as a part of this uniqueness, we each have a calling, or a gift? This is what Michael Meade calls the “genius.” It isn’t necessarily a high IQ or stunning talent, but it’s our unique gifts and potentials, our own style, and our purpose.

Dream clues: pregnancy, babies, death, helpers

I invite you to think back on your own dreams. Have you had any images lately of pregnancy or babies, or of dying or death? 

When I dream of pregnancy or babies, I think about potential. New ideas. New projects. New aspects of myself coming into being. As for death or dying in dreams, one layer of meaning can be that there is an aspect of myself that is finished, that is dying, that I’m leaving behind. 

If I ask myself about any birth and death images that have come up, I might find a clue about what I’ve been doing that it’s time to let go of, or maybe a way I no longer want to identify, and about what’s coming into being right now that I want to nurture. 

Dream: The Ent Baby

I’ll give you an example someone shared with me recently. If you’re not familiar with Lord of the Rings, ents are tree-like tree-shepherds/guardians.

I’m handed an ent baby. It has its eyes closed, like a newborn cat. When I take it in my arms, it feels rough and cold and I’m not sure how to take care of it. But it’s obvious that I’m expected to take care of it. 

What would you think if that were your dream? 

For this dreamer, at first she felt disgusted. It brought to mind her feelings about not wanting babies of her own. She connected it to feeling like babies don’t really fit in her arms. Then, she had a strong “ah-ha” moment about stewarding her garden and the trees around her home, like an ent would. She also had an “ah-ha” about re-reading stories she loved as a kid, like Lord of the Rings. We talked about how ents are the shepherds of trees. This baby is a new ent, eyes still closed, not quite conscious yet. It feels awkward to her, not familiar like a human baby or even a warm little mammal baby (“like a newborn cat”), but she has a sense of responsibility for it. When we worked this dream, she started to feel like she’s a baby ent and it’s time to open her ent-eyes.

If you flip back through your dream journal, do you find any instances of the beginning or the end of life?

You also might look for “helper” characters. Are there any dreams in which you’re helping someone, or being helped, or one character helps another? It might be intriguing to explore the qualities of the character who helps in a dream, or explore what they’re helping with.

Why your genius matters to the rest of the world

Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Michael Meade about the genius. “Given the size, scope, and complexity of the problems that currently threaten the world, There can be no single idea, specific political movement, or patented belief system that can save us. Rather, all kinds of ingenious solutions are needed; all types of inspiration, invention, and originality are now required.”

To me, this is brilliant. We don’t need the “Hero’s Journey” as a guiding story right now. We don’t need to think somebody’s going to save us. Nor, if we aspire to be that hero, think that we alone are going to come up with a solution, wave a flag and lead the charge. We need the people who have brilliance with ecology, with design, with words, with music, with technology, diplomacy, strategy, comedy, with peacemaking, with storytelling, with teaching children, interpreting data, with building homes. With compassion. I’ve heard Michael mention compassion many times, when talking about the genius. He says there are people with a genius for compassion. Don’t we need more of that?

One more quote about this idea. Sharon Blackie, a storyteller and mythologist like Michael Meade (with her own genius style), wrote recently that this idea of the genius within, “means that each of us has our own way to keep the fire at the heart of this world alive … Because none of us can be everything. We can only be, and fully, who we were supposed to be, in this world, at this time.”

I love that dreamlike, mythological image of “the fire at the heart of this world.”

For me, this both takes some pressure off (we’re not supposed to be everything and solve all the problems in all the ways) and also gives a firm, focused drive to be fully ourselves.

I also want to recognize that not all of us right now are thinking, “What’s my genius? How can I contribute to the world?” Many of us are thinking, “How can I pay my rent this month?” 

I get it: we have to feel well enough in our own bodies and lives to expand our attention with generosity toward our families, communities, the world. I have had times in my life where I did not feel well enough for that. So, if you’re reading this at a time and place where your energy is more devoted to getting through what you’re going through, I invite you to let what I’m saying support you in any way that it fits, and not nurture feelings that you should be doing something more or different.

How dreams help us recognize our genius

I’m curious who among you reading feels like you know what your “genius” is. Do you feel that you’re living according to your true nature, and that this is both satisfying to you, and serving others in the web of life in some way?

For everyone listening who doesn’t feel connected to their “genius,” or doesn’t feel clear about how to devote their unique nature to healing and course correction on the planet right now, I want to offer my ideas about how our dreams can help us do this.

First of all, one of the things I hold fundamentally true about dreams is this: as Jeremy Taylor put it, “All dreams come in the service of health and wholeness.” Every dream. Every kind of dream. 

I also believe that our dreams come not only for our personal health and wholeness – an illusionary type of health that is confined inside the boundaries of our skin – but our collective health and wholeness. 

To quote Toko-pa Turne, “The images that are generated in our dreams are not regurgitated flotsam, but structured clues to [our] fate. … Not only does each of us have a vocation, but every individual’s … fits holographically into the body of the collective, which is unfolding its own sleepy myth. This is why we need your dreaming.”

I love this image of the holographic nature of the individual dream. We dream our own dreams that seem private and individual, but they are holographic for everything that’s happening as we zoom out in our perspective.

I see dreaming as one of our natural functions. Like breathing, like blood circulation, dreaming comes naturally to us. If it’s a natural function, then we are inherently creative. We instinctively communicate with ourselves in a symbolic language. 

(Yes, some people believe that they don’t dream, but history and research would suggest, the truth is that they don’t remember their dreams. If there’s anyone actually reading this post about dreaming who feels that they don’t dream, I offer you this: dreaming is not always an epic visual story. Sometimes, it’s a feeling, or a brief image. There’s a link at the bottom of this page to my podcast episode about remembering dreams.)

In terms of our genius, dreams can prompt us to write, or to paint, or to take a stand, to have a hard conversation, or to build something. They can give us messages of encouragement that we’re walking in the right direction, like the imagery Teresa Vazquez shared in Episode 9, of water springing up at her feet. They can show us potent images about where to focus our attention, like Geraldine Matus’ dream of the eggs deep in the desert earth (shared in Episode 11). Our dreams can display back to us our fear and confusion as we gather up the courage to move forward: scenes that take place at night, or that we don’t understand – which I also take as encouragement, because it means I’m moving into the new and the unknown, outside my comfort zone, which is where the growth happens. 

Maybe you’ll get really clear “ah-ha” moments from your dreamwork: you’ll know your called to write this book, or move to this town, or teach this skill.

But very often, it’s not that clear. So, another perspective you can take is to look to our dreams for “where the energy is.” Chinese Medicine teaches us to look for where energy is flowing, and where it’s blocked. 

It also teaches us that the place where the problem is most obvious is not necessarily the place we need to intervene.

Let’s take this analogy, which the acupuncturists reading probably heard in school: In a family, the person making the most noise isn’t necessarily the person who most needs help. Let’s say there’s a cranky child with wild extremes of emotion, clearly crying out for help. Let’s say we recognize that they’re undernourished. They aren’t getting the nutrition they need for basic mental-emotional stability. But maybe that’s because the parent is unwell. If we took care of the parent, then not only would the parent be well, but they’d feed the child wonderfully, and both would be healthy. 

Or, a parent might be utterly exhausted. It might seem that the best treatment is to help replenish and restore their vitality, but what if they’re exhausted because the child is ill and needs constant care? In that case, helping the child heal would also take care of the parent. 

Exploring for this kind of clarity is fundamental to Chinese Medicine diagnosis: Every element of a system (like, this family)  affects every other; we need to look for the most important place to intervene. Because we can’t intervene everywhere. We can’t treat everyone and everything.

It’s the same with our world right now.

We all know there are a lot of parts making noise, and a lot that need help. 

So there are two questions: where is my help most needed; and what help am I most suited to give?

I turn to the symbolic language of Chinese Medicine to help me look at both those questions. Our dreams show us where the energy is, and isn’t.

The Five Elements: a first glance

Let’s talk about one way of gauging where the energy is, or isn’t, in our dreams: the Five Elements. Open your imagination to the Five Elements as five basic movements of existence, which can manifest in an INFINITE number of ways. The physical elements of Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, and Metal are exquisite ways to represent these movements – but they show up in many other ways, too. 

(For my free mini-book about the Five Elements in dreams, click here.)

First, Water. Water resonates with the Winter season. It’s a time of condensed, inward energy. Think of the way plants send their energy into their roots when the ground is blanketed with snow. Life is happening, but it’s underground, and we don’t see it. It’s a time of rest.

Next, Wood. From that condensed place of the Water phase, Wood begins to rise up. Wood begins the inhale. The word “Wood” refers not only to trees but to all growing green things. The best expression of the healthy Wood phase is the little green sprouts that first pop up in the Spring. Directed and determined as they are, they’re also flexible and resilient.

Fire is associated with the Summer season. It’s the fullness of the inhale. Picture the way that Fire naturally rises and spreads. Imagine the flowers of Summer, and the fullness of the year’s warmth. Fire has a sense of “up and out.” The emotions of joy and of anxiety are associated with Fire. Both have the “up and out” quality.

Seasonally, Earth comes next, after Fire. Earth is associated most closely with Late Summer, the time of harvest. In our bodies, it’s associated with the digestive system: taking in that harvest, digesting it, and distributing the nutrition. Or, when we picture the ever-moving expansion and contraction cycle, we can also think of Earth as the center around which everything else turns. 

Metal is associated with Autumn. The word Fall is even better here, because Metal has a downward direction. If you imagine the radiance of Fall leaves just about to fall, you have a sense of the Metal element. The radiance of sound and light is a Metal phenomenon. So is the poignancy of savoring something beautiful that we know we’re going to lose. And, once those leaves fall away, the grief that follows is the emotion of Metal.

As a first exploration, I invite you to notice which elements are showing up abundantly – which might give a clue to where you have a lot of energy to express. You could flip back through your dream journal, or just think back in your memory for a moment. Notice which elements show up frequently, and which rarely.

The Five Elements: the dreaming, the personal, the global

Now, it gets better than simply looking for the Five Elements physically showing up in your dreams. All kinds of other things can be grouped into the cloud of symbolic meaning that surrounds each element: the season and the emotion, certain directions of movement, certain actions, certain parts of the body, certain values, and so on.

Now I’ll share more examples of each element’s qualities and manifestations, and what contributions in the world could go with that element:


The Metal element shows up as 

  • downward movement, or falling, and sometimes a notable “not-falling” (aka, flying)
  • the color white
  • Metal objects, especially blades and jewelry
  • the Autumn season, and sunset
  • any kind of action of discernment: choosing between what stays and what goes, what’s a “yes” and what’s a “no”
  • hiddenness vs. exposure (any time there’s a character hiding, or lying, or exposed – maybe naked, or maybe underdressed for extreme weather)
  • the Lungs, and breathing
  • the Large Intestine, and elimination 
  • money, and the assignment of value to things (or, deciding something is not valuable) 
  • the voice – the “bell” that the Lungs can ring
  • the radiance of sound; music. 

If you’re seeing a lot of Metal energy in your dreams, maybe you’re also hearing the call from Metal work in the world: 

  • around justice, fairness, and value (economic justice, perhaps)
  • around discernment of right and wrong
  • around cleanup, maybe of the air because of Metal’s association with the Lungs
  • expression through music
  • protection, because Metal is also about vulnerability, exposure, protection and boundaries (Is there vulnerability somewhere in the world that you want to take a protective role?)

I recently had to laugh because I had never made the connection between all the Metal energy I notice in my own dreams and my work: acupuncture. All day long I use actual Metal objects to take precise, small actions that have far-reaching effects – a very Metal type of activity. I hadn’t noticed that as a possible reason for all the Metal energy in my dreams, and, in the waking world, as a way that I express the Metal energy in my nature. (Someone else pointed this out to me, another affirmation that I need my dream group!)

Earlier this week, I woke from a dream that had three vehicles in it: 

Dream: Divisive

A car, a black motorized chair on a circular disc that could hover above the road, and a small, old-fashioned golden bike. 

I ride the golden bike down some indoor stairs and arrive where an adult is explaining to a group of children the meaning of the word “divisive.” They aren’t getting it. I have the idea to walk to the front of the group and start pitting the kids against each other. I’ll point out the faults of one kid to another, and then encourage that kid to lay the blame on the first one. Then, once they’ve been divided, I’ll explain to them, “This is what’s being done to us.”

You might recognize Metal imagery in this dream: the hovering chair (not quite flying, but definitely defying gravity), the golden color, the downward direction of riding the bike down the stairs, and the idea of divisiveness, and pointing out faults and laying blame. 

So, if I take the cue from my dreams that Metal is where I have an abundance of energy, what does this mean for my role in global healing? 

I think first of discernment: telling what’s true and what’s right from what’s false and what’s wrong. At this moment in the world, I feel like all the Metal energy in my dream is fortifying me to hold strong in something that can feel very challenging: NOT allowing a pathological kind of judgment to take over within me. 

This came up in the dream: divisiveness. I see this as a pathological kind of discernment, of calling some people a “yes” and some people a “no,” dividing people into “us” and “them.” There is a strange twist I see happening, too, right now: making a “them” out of people who make a “them” out of others. Judging those who judge others (be they immigrants, people with a different sexual identity than their own, or anything else that seems “other”). 

I feel that it’s profoundly important for me not to participate in this “us” vs. “them” dynamic.

That’s not to say that I can’t disagree with anyone, or take a stand, or be protective. I consider all of those healthy aspects of Metal. But, I consider judgmentalness and divisiveness are examples of Metal out of balance.

So this is my dance with Metal, right now. This is the territory where my energy and attention are, and where I must use my discernment to do the “right” thing in each moment.


After Metal, in the cycle of the Five Phases, comes Water. (To get the visual diagram and all these symbols mapped out, click here.) Water itself shows up in so many forms in dreams: 

  • rain, snow, rivers, oceans, lakes, drinking water, showers, puddles, tsunamis, floods
  • the Winter season, and midnight
  • the direction of “down and in” 
  • the colors blue and black
  • plumbing in a house
  • the Kidneys, Bladder and bones in the body
  • genetics and reproduction
  • the emotions of fear and awe

A lot of Water energy in dreams might well be a prompting to take care of Water literally in our waking world, or another Water-related issue:

  • clean drinking water
  • water conservation
  • the ocean  
  • ancestors and descendents
  • rest / slowing down
  • deep reflection, meditation, and allowing for quietude
  • issues around fear

For a while, I dreamt every night of Water: showers, glasses of water, rain, rivers.

At that time, my local community was in the process of protesting the application of Rotenone to one of our local streams. Rotenone was going to be applied to kill all the fish in the water, to make way for introduction of an endangered species. This poisoning was unacceptable to us. (Incidentally, it was something that people who didn’t agree about anything else politically were on the same page about – because we love our land here, and water is life, for all of us).

Although I was very involved in that process, at first I only linked my Water dreams to my own physical and emotional health. Then, I had one dream of that waterway, that stream itself. Then I had the “ah-ha” that Water was calling my attention, and/or my attention was calling out to Water. 

We did succeed in stopping that Rotenone application. Since it was cancelled, I haven’t dreamt of Water with the same frequency.

I’ve been dreaming more of animals and trees, lately.


Speaking of trees, the next element is Wood. The Wood element appears in our dreams as:

  • any kind of plant life or trees
  • Spring/the morning
  • moving toward a destination (in dreams, often experienced as difficulty getting to a destination)
  • the Liver and Gallbladder
  • the eyes and vision
  • the tendons
  • the color green
  • anger or determination
  • compassion

A lot of Wood energy in dreams might be encouragement to:

  • look out into the future and cast a vision for what we’re moving toward
  • lead: share the vision, put one foot in front of the other, walk the path
  • think strategically
  • draw on functional anger, that helps fuel the determination to move forward
  • take action for trees, and for forests
  • tend to children, who are in the “Wood” phase of life, our “new sprouts”

One reason to track your dreams over time is that certain symbols repeat. 

A woman I work dreams with has dreamt repeatedly of lenses: contact lenses, glasses, binoculars, cameras. For her, this speaks to her ability to look through different “lenses” and recognize the “lenses” other people are looking through. Visual imagery is important to her, too. The lenses in her dreams have encouraged her interest in photography, which is connected to her sense of purpose: showing people places they would never see with their own eyes. She has felt affirmation from her dreams that there’s a lot of energy for her in the Wood phase, and vision.


After Wood comes Fire, which is associated with Summer. If you think of Summer, of flowers blooming, of a campfire, and of the hearth fire in the home, this is the element of interpersonal connection. We might see Fire in our dreams in the form of:

  • fire itself, whether a candle, a wildfire, the sun
  • the color Red
  • the Heart, blood vessels, and blood
  • the Small Intestine
  • the tongue, speech, and communication
  • joy and laughter; anxiety or panic; lack of joy
  • summer or noon
  • the “up and out” direction
  • relationships (one-on-one, or community)

When I think about bringing Fire energy to healing work in the world, I think first about community. The Fire element governs our connection and open-heartedness in a one-on-one, intimate way, as well as in community. It’s associated with communication, and spirituality. The glow of Spirit. The guiding light. It’s also associated with the tongue, and speech itself. 

I think about creativity, too: Fire is the element of expression, the season of flowering. 

An abundance of Fire energy might be encouragement to:

  • speak, express, connect, and create
  • devote to spiritual practice
  • build community
  • share joy
  • address ecological issues around fire and heat


Finally, the Earth element. I mentioned earlier that the Earth is associated with the center. It is also associated with the home, with the archetypal mother, with nourishment, the sweet flavor in food or drink, and with integrity. It shows up in dreams as:

  • Earth itself – soil, dirt, landscape
  • the color yellow
  • mental processing or worry
  • eating, or growing food
  • the Stomach and what we call the “Spleen” in Chinese Medicine (which includes the Pancreas and aspects of the intestines)
  • the mouth and the flesh, both muscles and fat
  • stillness and centeredness
  • stuckness
  • home
  • mother

One of the first things I think about when there are frequent Earth qualities (or just a loud-and-clear “Pay Attention Here” message around Earth, is food. I once had an epic dream conclude on the image of a half-burnt butternut squash sitting on top of the pump at a gas station

There’s a lot there in that image, but one thing I got loud and clear was “pay attention to Earth”: it was food, it was yellow, and it was the sweet flavor, and it was damaged, and it was placed in this unusual spot, as though to catch my attention. 

You might have heard how focusing on food – how it’s grown, how it’s processed, how it’s distributed – will go a long way toward solving the climate crisis. Likewise our food system has an enormous impact on individual health, and is intertwined with all our social and economic issues. If I were dreaming a lot about the Earth element, I would absolutely consider how I might play a role in food issues.

The Earth element is also associated with the intellectual mind, so if you have an academic perspective, you might see that reflected in Earth imagery, too.

Consider action around:

  • hunger
  • food waste
  • farming methods
  • housing and homes
  • intellectual activity, research, teaching

With all of these areas to take action, the particular issue you want to address might also show up in dreams. If I’m listening for it, the characters who show up, or the stories that are told, or the places my dreams are set in, might be inviting my attention to the specific place where it needs to go.

I’ll conclude this sketch here – and I look forward to diving in deeper with you on all of this.

If you’d like to see the writeup that maps some of these associations out, along with my mini-book about the Five Elements in dreams, go to and enter your email address. (If you’ve already signed up to keep in touch with me by email and gotten that pdf mini-book, go ahead and enter your email there again. Your subscription won’t change, but I’ll send you an updated link to the global healing page.)

Getting clear

Are you with me on this idea that we have a deep inner nature that’s always calling to us and urging us forward? No matter where we’re at in our lives, and no matter whether we’ve listened to it so far or not? Do you resonate with the idea that we all have a role to play, and each “little” piece is significant? I believe that our dreams, because they’re always supporting our growth, will reliably encourage our “genius.”

Consider turning directly to your dreams with a question, an incubation: “I want to dream about my role in global healing.” (See Episode 14 with Dr. Deirdre Barrett for simple dream incubation instructions.)

Of course, the Five Elements are not the only way our dreams will communicate a reply. 

In the context of individual health, I’m thinking of a woman who dreamt of breasts and medical scenarios repeatedly before being diagnosed with breast cancer. Sometimes there are specific things that call out to us. What’s calling out to you?

My hope is that each of us will hear the call, and do our part. Like the hummingbird.

Will “genius” save the world?

And will that save the world?

I do not know. Honestly, I don’t know what “save the world” really means, at this point. 

But will it help? I believe so.

I had the chance to sit with Michael Meade on the couch of my friends Erin and Carl Rabke (of Embodiment Matters) late one night, after he spoke in Salt Lake City. 

I asked him if he thought the genius was inherently driving people toward doing good for themselves and for others. What I was really wondering was, could helping someone realize and express their genius help them be more harmful? 

I’ve thought about this occasionally, as a practitioner of healing arts. If you watched The Sopranos, do you remember the moment when Tony Soprano’s therapist realized she may simply have been helping him be a more functional thief and murderer all these years?

It was a long and rich conversation with Michael Meade that night, but the short answer is: No. 

The genius doesn’t necessarily move us toward kindness or benevolence. We can probably all think of people who have used their genius to the detriment of their societies. The genius of charisma has certainly been used by leaders who did incredible harm.

So, helping make sure things move toward healing is a little bit of a different subject than helping make sure people realize and express their genius. But, even the idea of wanting people’s genius to lead to a certain outcome may be a little bit off. 

I know that you and I might not think the problems are the same. We might even completely disagree about the solutions. You probably have the impression by now that I like deep dialogue. I like to look for common ground. I believe we have more in common than we have that sets us apart. Yet, there are times that I view someone as doing harm, or promoting harm. In that case, me, in my genius, might have direct confrontation with them, in theirs.

But I do believe, at the most basic level, that more connected, fulfilled human beings are more likely to take care of one another than to do harm. I believe that the more you are in tune with your own genius and available to witness experiences very different from your habitual waking experience – as dreams invite us to do every night – the more you will be able to share your gifts with the world. I believe that if your genius is expressed, we stand a hell of a lot better chance of making it through this than without that.

On that note, thank you for reading all this expression from me. I hope it has been helpful to you. Let me know. I’d love to talk with you.

Links mentioned:

Episode 9 with Teresa Vazquez

Episode 11 with Geraldine Matus

Episode 14 with Deirdre Barrett

Free pdf about the Five Elements in dreams, and diagram about the Five Elements and global healing:

Toko-pa Turner

Michael Meade

Sharon Blackie

Wangari Maathai and the hummingbird story

Leilani Navar


  1. Ellen Davidson on October 18, 2020 at 12:17 am

    This is absolutely brilliant Leilani! Your genius is blossoming and a healing in our shared world. Thank you.

    • Leilani Navar on October 20, 2020 at 9:33 pm

      Thank you so much, dear Ellen. It’s so good to walk these paths with you, in all your genius.

  2. […] are a form of communication both from and for our collective community. As I spoke about in the last episode, Dreaming Your Genius, our dreams can reveal to us where we have the most energy to give, and where in the world our […]