Dreams have been part of our history as a species. Echoing Carl Jung, they contain individual and collective meanings, holding the anxieties, desires, traumas, and hopes of the culture, reflecting the circumstances of the human condition. For this reason, the group is an optimal setting to work with dreams. Lawrence coined the term Social Dreaming Matrix™ to capture the generative power of deep collaborative dream work and to differentiate it from process groups that deal with interpersonal dynamics as well as dream groups that focus on individual dreams. 

Connected dreaming works with dreams differently than most traditional dream groups. First, dreams are not interpreted, but used to impact, disrupt, and expand our thinking. James Hillman says “We must reverse our usual procedure of translating the dream into ego-language and instead translate the ego into dream-language. This means doing a dream-work on the ego.” We ask the dreamers to suspend logical thinking and to allow the dream to provoke associations, feelings, images, memories, in order to generate new ways of thinking.

Second, we see dreams as holding both individual and collective significance. James Hillman says, “when we dream, we are dreaming outside of ourselves.” “The world’s soul echoes and moves its imagination in my dream.” Dreams are portals, opening our finite beings to the infinite otherness of humanity. So, when we share dreams, we offer the dream to the group. When we listen to dreams, we listen as if we are hearing our dream in order to open ourselves to deeper levels of connection with others.
Third, the group doesn’t focus on interpersonal dynamics, but explores the relationships among dream images. Dream images are manifestations of dream intelligence, what Hillman has referred to as “persons of the soul,” visitations and intimations. The intrinsic intelligence of dream images represents what the psyche needs but doesn’t know to ask. This intelligence emerges as one deepens one’s relationship to the image through a process that Stephen Aizenstat, calls animation. Through various expressive techniques we animate dream images, allowing the images to interact with each other. He states, that when we connect with the dream image, “We surrender to another kind of consciousness, a subtle mode of connection, requiring finesse, patience, sensitivity, and spaciousness.”
Through the sharing, associating, and “playing” with dreams, thinking shifts from the logical and conventional to the imaginal. Meanings emerge that enlarge the personal dimension of a dream.  The individual is de-centered from a self-perspective and is oriented to the collective. The dream is not only the “royal road” to the unconscious, but is also a bridge connecting individuals to each other.

More Information

What to expect
There is no preparation for this group other than a curious and open mind and an interest in dreams.  The group lasts 4 hours and consists of the following:
1. Introductions
2. Guided Phantasy
3. Dream Sharing
4. Free Associations
5. Dream Reflection
6. Dream Play
7. Wrap up.

Guided phantasy – exercise to create a relaxed, dream-like atmosphere. Robert Bosnak says in Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming that “dream work hovers over the edge of sleep in order to access layers of consciousness outside routine awareness.”

Dream sharing – Individuals are invited to share a dream they are curious about.  Dreams are offered to the group in order to relinquish individual possession of the dream. Participants are asked to imagine each dream shared as their personal dream. The shared dreams become part of the collective dream of the group. It is my dream and it is our dream.

Free Association – After dream sharing, each dream is read back to the group and individuals are asked to “free associate” to each dream.   Free association is a process of imaginal thinking as opposed to logical thinking, allowing the dreams to evoke feelings, images, thoughts, and memories. Since dreams are not a product of a logical mind, one needs to bypass the rational ego to understand the significance of dreams.
Dream Play – is an imaginative game that we adapted from Stephen Aisenstat’s technique of “dream council.” It is a way to work with dream images in an expressive, enactive mode and deepen one’s waking relationship to dreaming consciousness.  The objective of the play is to animate the dream images. The interactive play that ensues occurs under the influence of the dream images extending the dream into the waking world.
Individuals choose a dream image from a dream they shared and a figure from a collection of figures to represent the image.  Through a process of embodied imagination, participants identify essential qualities of the image and give a name to the image. Participants share their image with the group.

The game is simple. It consists of taking turns moving the dream figures in relation to the other dream figures. As participants identify with their image, it is the image that directs the action. With each turn, individuals express their feelings and reasons for placing their figure where they did. This is repeated several times in order to allow the dream figures to interact with each other.

Dream Reflection – shifts the conversation to a more focused mode of thinking.  Dreams will be read back as one continuous dream.   Participants look for themes that appear in the dreams. Efforts are made to see similarities, contrasts, and connections among dream images to see what story (stories) are moving through the group.

Wrap up. Participants share what their experience has been like in the group and what they hope to take away from the group back into their lives.

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Larry Brooks, PhD

Licensed Clinical Psychologist
License # PSY 8161

138 N. Brand #300
Glendale, CA 91203

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