By Amber R. Balk, Ph.D.
Each time I get another chance to introduce dreamwork to a new community, the same thing happens.
I walk into the room and am aware that I do not know these people. I generally start off recognizing maybe one or two faces– if I am lucky. Often, I am walking into a room of strangers.
Usually, when I notice this, a whole host of thoughts and feelings run through my mind. Do I have anything in common with these folks? What if they are too different? What if we are unable to understand each other? What if there is no common ground?
I take a deep breath. I intentionally bring my awareness into my body. I wiggle my toes or stretch. I pay attention to the place where my body meets the floor and chair. I breathe as slowly and deeply as possible.
We begin. I use many techniques but find Jeremy Taylor’s projective dreamwork protocol the most accessible and potent for groups. I invite participants to playfully explore practices that initially feel kinda awkward and strange.
Try to always talk about a dream as though it is yours, even if it originated in another dreamer. Always speak of the dream as though it is happening now, rather than the past. Always say “the dreamer,” rather than the person’s name or “you.” Try to preface comments with, “If this were my dream, I…” Watch for the “aha,” a distinct feeling that serves to indicate an important shift of internal awareness; something subconscious is becoming conscious.
We stumble through the first round, walking this oddly foreign and crumbly path between self and other. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that we are, in actuality, talking about ourselves, even as we bear witness to others. We have entered more deeply into ourselves, but the doorway was another person’s dream. It can be a dizzying experience.
We listen to each person’s version of the dream. Sometimes it seems exactly like what I thought and felt. Other times, a person brings in a detail that is strikingly different from my version. At those junctures, I pause, imagine the new pieces, and often feel like I have opened a door to another world.
By the time we make it around the circle, we have been gifted glimpses of each dreamer’s universe. I am struck with reverence and awe. A poignant feeling of unity, within a beautifully diverse system of multiverses, seems alive and pulsating with its own life and rhythm.
We close the session by turning more fully within. A circle of charged inner awareness. Breathing. Noticing. Expanding. Honoring. And then we return to the outer world, mysteriously recharged and, hopefully, more able to connect outwardly.
This, to me, is the essence of transpersonal; turning within in order to more deeply connect outwardly. It’s a kind of magic that has to be experienced firsthand to truly know its power. And this is something I wish for every single person on the planet. This is something our fractured world needs now, whether it be through dreamwork or any other experience that more consciously unites the inner and outer worlds.
If you want to experience this through this type of dreamwork, feel free to contact me at this link to plan either group (with interested friends or family) or individual sessions. Sessions may be conducted in-person or online. If you have access to the Oregon Coast, please keep an eye on my events page for upcoming dream happenings, which are often free or minimally priced so that more people can experience the transformative power of community dreamwork.
Amber R. Balk, Ph.D. is a transpersonal educator, writer, researcher, and independent consultant who combines diverse educational and professional backgrounds to provide well-rounded and unique individual and group psychospiritual services. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.