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.
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:
2. Guided Phantasy
3. Dream Sharing
4. Free Associations
5. Dream Reflection
6. Dream Play
7. Wrap up.
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.