I’d say I’m “experienced” in working with my dreams, but I wouldn’t say I’m an “expert.” I’m not sure a person can be an expert on their own dreams.
Of course, I say that at the same time that I hold this belief: only the dreamer can know the meaning of their own dream.
How are these two ideas true at the same time?
First of all, I’m convinced of what Jeremy Taylor said: “No dream comes to tell us what we already know.” I’d go even further and say that every dream brings us a nudge about our own blind spots.
How are we supposed to see our own blind spots? That’s like trying to look at your own face. We need one another to be our mirrors.
My companions in a dream discussion group are mirrors. They’re prisms, too. They reflect my dream back to me, and they bend it a bit, so I see it in a new, multicolored way. When my dream group friends listen to me retell a dream, they notice the varying tones in my voice, how I move, and what words I choose. They reflect those back, and I hear myself more clearly.
Just as importantly, they also project their own personalities and experiences onto my dreams. They tell me those projections (a.k.a., their “interpretations” of my dream from their perspective). Offered with respect and well-wishes, this is one of the most potent ways to get myself to an “ah-ha” moment.
It’s that “ah-ha” moment that tells us we’re onto something. When I feel that sense of knowing, that recognition, then I can affirm, “Yes, this is what the dream was about.”
So, the dreamer is the only one who recognizes what their own dream means – but each dreamer can use help uncovering the meanings we’re not yet conscious of, giving us the opportunity to recognize them at all.
I say “meanings,” plural, because dreams have many layers of meaning. A dream can speak about our relationships, our emotional life, our physical health, our creative work, our ecosystem, and more, all at once, through the brilliance of story and symbol.
(For my free video and mini-book about opening up your relationship with all these layers of meaning in dreams, click here.)
Groups are powerful for helping us connect with these many layers. One person in the group might be attuned to the health layer (that’s often me!), another to the emotional, a third to the ecological, and so on. With all those voices in the choir, the dreamer has the chance to hear a gorgeous variety of notes that resonate.
In all these ways, community enhances my relationship to my dreams – and, dreams enhance my relationship to my community. The moment we start talking about a dream, we’re immediately talking about what matters to someone on the deepest level. We’re down to the heart and soul of things. We can’t be anywhere else. The depth of connection I can get when I’m talking with someone about our dreams is rare, and delicious.
Do you talk about your dreams with anyone? Want to dive in online with us in our free community? I’ll share with you a few of the points I like to bring up in the beginning, to set the stage for a fulfilling, supportive experience:
- Share dreams (or dream images) in present tense, describing the scene so your companions can imagine it as vividly as possible. For example, “I’m in a hallway with white tile and a few potted plants. I can hear footsteps on the other side of a wall.” Simply retell the dream at first. Afterward, you can add some related information from waking life if you feel that it’s important. For example, “The hallway looks like the one in the apartment building where my favorite aunt lives.”
- When you share ideas for interpretation, own them as your projections by saying, “If this were my dream,” and speaking in first person. So, rather than, “It seems like you’re still trying to baby your daughter when you should just let her drive away,” offer the dreamer instead, “If this were my dream, I’d relate this to my daughter getting ready to leave home. I’d think stuffing the trunk of her car with little coats and boots is about how I’m trying to take care of her like I used to, but this just takes up space in her new vehicle.” Also, feel free to simply share what you got out of someone else’s dream. You will get something out of other people’s dreams! Like, “This brings home how much I miss my grandparents, too.” Share those moments – they may resonate with others.
- Create a sense of relaxed safety by committing to each other that you’ll keep everything that’s shared confidential.
- Be aware that unexpected emotional pain, psychological issues, or just “tough stuff” in general can come up in dreamwork. That’s part of the beauty of dreamwork, but it’s a beauty you wouldn’t want to be caught by unawares. A dream group isn’t psychotherapy. It’s not dreamwork with a personal guide or facilitator, nor a substitute for those. If you want to dive deeper or you’re healing from trauma and need support, reach out to someone who can work one-on-one with you.
Come share your dreams and offer your perspectives in the Dreamers Den Facebook community. Every single person who joins those conversations enriches it for the rest of us. I hope to see you there, and hear your voice.