PREPARING FOR A CYBERDREAMWORK SESSION
Be prepared to spend approximately two hours working in the group. The first 45 minutes will be spent checking equipment, getting acquainted and sharing dreams. The next hour will be spent working on a selected dream and the last 15 minutes will be spent processing the dreamwork.
THE DREAMWORK BEGINS: A Brief Description
Starting with the basic assumption that all psychological states are experienced in the body, Embodied Imagination® is a discipline that invites dreams or memories to work on us. By using a variety of body centered techniques, the dreamer and those in the group artificially flashback into a hypnagogic state (the state between waking and dreaming) to re-experience the dream environment from a variety of different perspectives. This dual state of consciousness allows the dreamer and group members to become captured and deeply affected by the images while remaining aware that each individual is sitting in a chair working the dream.
By slowly, carefully, and mindfully exploring the images, sensations and affective states are experienced in the body. In this way, a complex network of embodied states comes into being; permeating the body, and uncovering archetypal, emotional, and physical elements which can allow for profound psychophysical change.
The phenomenologist, Husserl stated: “The field of appearances, while still a thoroughly subjective realm, is seen to be inhabited by multiple subjectivities; the phenomenal field is no longer the isolate haunt of a solitary ego, but a collective landscape, constituted by other experiencing subjects as well as by oneself.”
- After the initial greetings and technical adjustments, the work begins. The group leader helps the group members mindfully scan their bodies to create a personal baseline before listening to the dream. It is important for both the dreamer and group participants to attend to their body and observe from within any areas of visceral and emotional awareness that bubble to the surface. This helps establish a baseline, a sense of what is happening in each individual’s body before the work begins. Listening to a dream or memory stimulates changes.
- Then the dreamer closes her eyes and in a hypnagogic state concentrates on the memory of the dream. With focused attention, and using the present tense, the dreamer carefully recreates the dream as an imagined reality. When awake we tend to relate our dreams to others in the form of a linear story, translating the symbolic landscape into a language that allows us to communicate the experience. However, a linear description distances us from the sensate immediacy of the experience.
- The dreamworkers listen with equal attention, opening to and embodying the images as the dream world comes into being. Along with the dreamer, the group members lower their consciousness and enter the atmosphere and activity of the images — listening with equal attention — as the dream world comes into being. This is called “embodied listening,” listening with the body and allowing for feelings and sensations to enter one’s awareness. The group members allow themselves to become equally infected by the dreaming world while maintaining an observing eye.
- Once the dream is presented, the dreamworkers are welcome to share their own physical and emotional responses to the dream images. No interpretations are offered. This is not only a way for all members of the group to gather around the dreamer in a non-judgmental way but sharing responses creates a sense of group cohesiveness.
- Now it is often helpful to hear the dream a second time. With the second telling, the dreamer is asked to share any associations and/or identifying information related to the dream. This places the dream into the personal context of the dreamer. The dreamer is free to respond in whatever way he or she feels comfortable. This is not about probing into the personal life of the dreamer. It is about looking for information that can’t be answered during the work. In addition, during this process a vessel and relational bond (a sense of intimacy) is created between the dreamer and group members to help contain the intensity of emotions and sensations that will be experienced during the work.
- Then with the help of the group leader, who paces the session, the group briefly discusses a strategy and an approximate way to work the dream. Be prepared…. all good intentions can easily be abandoned once the work begins. In most cases the work follows the dream narrative
- A guiding principle is to initially enter the dream where there is the least resistance, where the dreamer seems most comfortable.
- Next the leader and group members look for places where something happens, hinges – like “suddenly”; a crisis or places where the dreamer is afraid, where there are changes in direction — up or down, etc.
- It is most important to work with non-ego or ego dystonic images (people or objects).
- Remember, it is those places that feel alien to the dreamer and meet with the greatest resistance that are worked last.
- Now, the questions begin…. The object is to help the dreamer make the dream world as vivid and “real” as possible. The group members ask descriptive questions, for example: What is the lighting like? Are there any sounds? Are there any smells? What is the temperature? Are you alone or with others? The group members help the dreamer express what is felt in the body while events are taking place. They help the dreamer open to the emotional life frozen in the images by moving from image, to feelings (affect), to body sensations.
- Questions help the dreamer embody and recreate the dream as an imagined reality. This kind of dreamwork allows for a strong emotional, body centered experience that can be quite transformative.
A GUIDE TO ASKING QUESTIONS:
*Start the work by placing the dreamer into the dream environment. An image is an environment, a place where the dreamer finds herself.
*Proceed by first focusing on the experience of the dreamer (the dream ego).
* Then help the dreamer anchor (firmly fix) and sense the image that has been worked into the part of their body where the image is experienced.
*The dreamer is helped to transit (move) into the perspective of other figures or objects in the dream. A “transit” involves identifying with “others” – non-ego perspectives. These can be people, animals, or even objects that oppose or are foreign to the dream ego personality. In dreams we experience a multiplicity of autonomous states. Many characters with their own interior life and subjectivity inhabit our dreams. The technique used to enter the perspective of “other” is called “mimesis”. It is the capacity or our natural compulsion to imitate or copy and identify with others or other states.
*Lastly, we help the dreamer hold all the images (a composite) that have been worked into the body. This may mean holding the tension of two opposing sensory and affective states or like an impressionistic painting, holding a few colors together. The object is to etch the images into the body. This creates the tincture, the healing medicine, that when held as a composite of images, allows for a transformation to take place. The new images that emerge are called the “emergent phenomena”. Like Jung’s transcendent function they emerge between the chaos and order of holding several images at one time. This notion comes from Complexity theory.
*The composite needs to be worked for 20 minutes a day, no more or less, whenever possible. (This can also be divided into shorter 5 minute intervals that add up to 20 minutes). This way of working with the images becomes a form of meditation. The images will remain with the dreamer as long as he/she keeps the experience alive. Practice allows for neuronal shifts and reflexive experiences to develop.
The co-leader sends the composite to the dreamer.
* Always maintain the confidentiality of the dreamer. First names only.
* Select short dreams to work on.
* When working on a dream, slow down. Avoid rushing. The key is in slowing the image down. In addition, pause after each speaker. Avoid rushing, talking over each other, or interrupting.
* When the dreamer talks, everyone listens.
* Always follow the dreamer’s lead, the dreamer’s experience, not your own curiosity.
* Change the direction of questions when the dreamer is
unable to answer.
* Focus on the sensory and affective experience.
* Avoid interpretations.
* Any group member can call a “time out” to discuss the work. Try and make your questions short to avoid disrupting the process.
* In the end spend most of your time at the location of the greatest
The object of the work is to return to and explore the reality of the dream world. This is not therapy. It is a careful exploration of the creative imagination. Cyberdreamwork is a unique and personal endeavor. All members need to help protect the dream space.
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