Online Community Dream Work, “Across Space and Time”

MirrorWolf-2Image Credit – by

When I started participating in and leading dream groups, about twenty years ago, the World Wide Web had just barely begun to be a venue for many of the activities it is used for presently. Today it’s possible for dreamers to meet from the comfort of our own homes and to call in over video to do this deeply intimate and fun work together online. There are a number of folks doing dream work in this fashion currently around the world.

Not much of a “techie” over the course of my life, the thought of doing group work with dreams over the Internet did not appeal to me very strongly at first. Having done a hefty amount of various types of group work in a wide variety of venues, I thought that it would be crucial to be in the same physical space, in order to read body language and the like. Thankfully, I was persuaded by a host of friends and colleagues to try it out, and I have to say my mind and heart have been changed on the matter.

The way myself and several of my colleagues work with dreams supposes, on the tested basis of experience, that all we can really do, honestly, is imagine another person’s dream for ourselves – the fairly well-known “if it were my dream” approach credited to both Jeremy Taylor and Montague Ullman.  It turns out that working online appears to support a further invitation to use, involve and honor our living imaginations: yet one more opportunity to also own our unconscious projections.

Online work affords many advantages: we save time, resources and money by not driving someplace physical to meet, there’s a “come as you are” element involved, it’s possible to refer to typed written records and helpful pertinent images while working and folks can even look up further info, via Google, to seek to expand the available connections of meaning while engaging with one another during a meeting. It’s as if, symbolically, we are extending the dream into a whole new arena, while we are awake, as well, dreaming the dream further and more expansively.

The experience of being online itself involves a symbolic attention to the imagination that also includes a sense of paradox; even though we are far away, we are and can be close together, intimate across space and time. On the deeper levels of the dreams themselves, to my awareness, we do seem to be connected at a distance and dream motifs of collective synergy often reveal themselves in clear synchronicities during this work. So, the two experiences are uniquely related and encourage the fostering of a deeper kind of connection, albeit perhaps ironically, at a relative distance which fosters a vital closeness of connection, nonetheless.

Participating in and hosting online dream groups appears to be one way that we may avail ourselves of the current technology, in a quality fashion, to support evermore deepening levels of authenticity and rich inner wisdom to come  more clearly into action in the waking world.

My current online group meeting takes place every other Tuesday from 10am to Noon PST, U.S. and we’re accepting new members. Please go to the groups page here to get more information and contact me to register.

Dreaming On, Travis Wernet

Dreaming Spirals, Dreams and Dreaming as they relate to the Personal and the Collective

grass-vw-bugDreams are experiences and messages sent to us by Nature. They go beyond the theoretical categories we assign to them in order to understand them. It turns out that our Dreaming Nature is also Nature Dreaming, through us and within us. We’re also, in a sense, akin to ancient ideas about dreams and dreaming, being dreamt up at the same time. Although we may perceive that we are having the dreams, there’s also the possibility that they are having us, that ultimately we are part of an observable matrix of life that goes beyond but includes our individual sense of identities and living dramas.

For almost twenty years I’ve been paying attention to my own and others dreams. It’s been the case for this period, especially when working in groups to explore dreams, that there are always multiple layers of meaning and archetypal, symbolic contents present. It’s crucial to look at the dreams from the perspective that they are reflecting meaning and experience through metaphorical as well as potentially literal language. Even when they don’t seem to be, the harder we look, the more clear it becomes how even the dreams that seem to be presenting literal situations offer potent metaphors of meaning and insight as well.

As an example, consider a recent dream in which my car breaks down and the mechanics come to haul it off to their garage, not an uncommon motif, which I trust many folks are able to relate to.

In my work with this dream I have entertained several possible meanings. Because we moderns are so involved with motor vehicles as a form of transportation, it’s true that any dream of a car is likely to be speaking to the dreamer, and potentially others, about a multitude of important issues.

It’s easy to recognize that a dream automobile could represent a mode of life direction for the dreamer. In the case of a breakdown, perhaps the current trajectory is not working out. The physical quality of being in a car is also symbolically akin to what it’s like to be in a body. It’s also true that cars in dreams often point to health concerns for the dreamer. A broken down car could represent a physical or mental malfunction, or both. The dream might also be a warning about a future breakdown in waking life, of an actual waking world vehicle.

On a collective level, cars and their effects appear to be central to the impact of the environmental conditions of global warming on the planet at this time. So, in the event of my dream car, what might the dream be saying about the universal layer of meaning by posing the breakdown of the auto? I myself, as the dreamer, resonate with the notion of my dream car breakdown as a further implication of the experience around how it feels to be alive at this time. It evokes a sense of what it’s like to hold such a variety of concerns for the ecological welfare of the earth and its’ inhabitants as related to my daily activities such as driving a motorized vehicle and all that this entails.

Perhaps the dream car breakdown also suggests looking for creative alternatives to conventional or common ways of dealing with present-day crises. Maybe it spells out the all-too-human predicament of breakdowns in the true efficacy of our current technology and of mechanical modes for trying to make it through one’s life, as related to collective concerns about the impacts of automobiles characterized here by the dream car no longer able to provide conveyance, or to support movement. By touching on this level of concern, the dream has begun to invite understandings and themes that involve, not just the individual dreamer, not just humanity as a whole, but all of life on earth and the planet itself.

This is a very brief example, which nonetheless may serve to illustrate that even such a simple and common scenario in dreams can be found to be depicting a long list of pertinent meanings which are best represented when applied on as many levels as possible, including the personal and the collective.

Projective Dream Work and “You language”, Part 2

This post continues a theme from a previous one about projection… The image pictured here is from Surrealist Painter Magritte, and is titled “The False Mirror”


Why is it that we so often speak in what I call “You language”? When discussing situations with others, we often attempt to tell friends, colleagues and other folks what we think is true or right for them. We even do this when trying to describe our own individual unique experience of life, and make seemingly all-encompassing statements about people we may know very little about. For example, when somebody close dies, we say things like, “When death visits, you feel the limits of your own mortality and you begin to question the very meaning of existence”.  This might be true, in a general sense, for all of us, but it can be harder to hear when it’s put like this. And for some, it might not be like that at all. For instance, one might simply feel sad and miss the person who’s passed away. If I were having a conversation with someone about death and dying, and felt a sense of my own mortality, why wouldn’t I acknowledge that by saying, instead, something like, “When someone dies, it makes me question the meaning of my own life.” Wouldn’t it be more honest, helpful and appropriate to say what it brings out in me versus trying to speak for others? How can we honestly do anything but speak from and about our own experience? It’s not as though it even makes sense to pretend I can know for certain what another person is thinking or feeling, let alone what she or he has gone through in the past, or will face in the future. I have a hard enough time keeping track of my own memories, thoughts and feelings from moment to moment and day to day!

Experience has been said to be one of the greatest teachers. Over time, and in my own life, I can recall several defensive arguments that took place because of people using “you language” with each other. I’ve done it many times myself. I know that when I do, part of the reason I am even tempted to do so, is that it seems it would be so much easier to be able to assign my difficult feelings and shadowy actions, the positive and negative potentials of my own existence, onto someone else, rather than face up to the challenging forces that exist within my own being. If I can cast my problems or potentials onto the neighbors, my friends or intimate partners, then I don’t have to clean up my own mess, or confront and take responsibility for aspects of my life that are anxiety producing or seem unattractive or difficult to respond to.

The obstacle to realizing this lies in an inborn capacity to be unaware of what we’re unaware of. How can we know what we don’t know, if we don’t know it? That guiding essence within each of us, what Psychology or Buddhism might call the ego, would much rather be seen as a champion with all the right stuff, than to be experienced as a perfectly flawed and complicated bundle of competing wishes, desires and qualities. This is one reason I find it so useful to work with dreams. Such visions, in my experience, provide a unique access to “the magic mirror that never lies”. Dreaming, we enter realms of the unknown where we’re given accurate depictions of previously unconsidered difficulties, and find solutions for the struggles we come up against in relation to others. It might not be easy to look at the images and situations that are reflected by dreams, but doing so allows a recognition of the unique challenges, gifts and tendencies which can be honored in seeking to discover and fulfill the souls’ deepest and dearest longings.

Here’s an example of one of my own night-world adventures, which I believe shows of how the unknown appears in dreams, as well as how projections relate to and within them.

“The Shrunken and Broken Protection Door, I’m a Woman Leading the Youth”

*Dream from May 2013:

I am vaguely aware of a structure that I find myself in. I know I’m leading a group of young people and that I’m a woman, my current age of forty-two, or slightly older. I feel a protective sense and see a doorway. The door seems to shrink just off the frame and its’ hinges as I look at it and my awareness becomes involved with somehow keeping the door closed. I also know that there’s a group outside that are waiting to get us, or attack us and I find myself concerned with fixing the door, but also with how to proceed out of the structure to get to the outside. I don’t feel it’s safe to do so with the attackers/mob out there waiting for and planning to attack us.

As the dreamer of this dream, I’m bound to find it tricky to see what’s in it for myself, because, like any dreamer, I am uniquely blind to the messages and meanings in my own material. No less, right off the bat, experiencing myself as a woman in the dream is an intriguing way for it to put me in a position that is opposite to my day-world, physical experience as a man. No matter how hard I try to imagine what it’s like to be female, while I’m awake, all I can do is make the effort to do so. On one level, the dream takes this experience a step further, and gives me a brief but real experience in the dream of feeling like and existing as a woman.

Although there’s much more that could be said about the above narrative, it relates to the earlier stated ideas in that the imagination here gives a directly felt-sense of being something that I don’t appear to be in the waking world. As I look at the dream from my conscious perspective, despite being a woman in the dream, I naturally, unconsciously, begin to project onto the dream all my ideas about what it means to be a woman, leading a group of youth, feeling protective and as if I need to insure the success of our quest. It would be easy to conclude, at least on one level, that a way I hold my inner idea of “woman” is to assume that she is motherly, protective, and is invested in taking care of her young.

The only reliable way to be sure what the dream is coming to say is to ask whether it inspires any sort of “A-Ha” response. I definitely do resonate with this possibility that the experience of being a woman in my dream is inviting me to look deeper into my own hidden layers of thought and feeling around what it means to be a woman, and that I may be expecting a kind of stereotypical role from her.

This is a very brief exploration, given the topic, but I do feel it begins to give a genuine sense of the way that dreams point out how we project, at the least, while we’re awake. I also want to emphasize that in looking back at the dream, it becomes possible to become aware of unconscious ideas, thoughts and feelings as they appear, while receiving, reading or listening to the dream. Working with the dreams in this way begins to create and honor a perceptive reality in which many of us may realize that what exists in the psyche, the inner imaginal world of each person, suggests that there are any number of unconscious ideas, feelings and attitudes which we’re not fully aware of. This phenomenon also demonstrates that it’s very likely we project such unknowns on each other, and that using an “I language” in our conversations can afford us the opportunity to realize what is true for each of us, and offers a different level of respect for each persons’ own version of reality and truth.

Projective Dreaming: Authentic Path of Discovery


This is the first in an on-going series of thoughts, reflections and the culling of experiences based on the ideas of the phenomenon of psycho-spiritual projection and dreams… Enjoy! TW

In our dreams we are shown, time and time again, how who we really are is so much more than we think we are. We dream of monsters, angels and demons, animals, landscapes and elements, a wide variety of people – even aliens; we find ourselves in sexual situations which would make us blush to even think upon while awake, let alone share with one another. In my eighteen years of working with dreams and paying attention to my own and others journeys in the dreamworld, I’ve clearly been shown that the dreaming informs us about how we seek to project all our own unwanted qualities onto others, somewhere ‘over there’, and that we even do this in our dreams. This includes the skills and talents that we possess and which we’d rather not look at, because to acknowledge such talents and abilities would mean that we’d have to do something about expressing and embodying them and all that entails. This would mean taking credit for our achievements, and our failures, which may be trickier than we first imagine it to be!

It’s been and continues to be my experience that we all project, all the time – as Jeremy Taylor, renowned Projective Dream Worker, Teacher and Author has shown quite well – it’s all about projection,
“… projection is a ubiquitous (existing everywhere) unconscious process much like digesting food or having a wound heal; it is not something that we do on purpose. This process of projection causes us to perceive aspects and energies of our own being as though they existed exclusively outside ourselves and were the ‘property’ and responsibility of others” To begin to recollect the potent energies inside and out, both positive and negative, is to begin to recognize that in dreams and in actual/waking life, we are given multi-layered and super-packed experiential occasions of rich learning and wisdom from which to base our efforts at withdrawing and owning our projections. By working with and looking at the dreams, we start to see how events play out metaphorically, if not also sometimes, literally. Dreaming is a personal and collective, shared vista that is ever-changing and transforming, which fosters and invites a stand-point in relation to the complicated and momentous occasions of a life and our deepest, truest dreams.

In doing Projective-style Group or One to One Dream Work, we agree to practice this original approach to life by discussing our experience of one anothers dreams and by sharing comments in language such as, “If it were my dream, the lost baggage in the airport that I want to recover might be showing me that I have lost track of my own issues and that I would benefit from figuring out where I can address that in waking life”. There’s no reason for the practice to stop when we’re not discussing dreams. The beauty of this approach is that we all get to project meaning onto a given dream or waking experience, and while we do so, we get to witness how we ourselves easily, naturally project, but also, we get to see vital layers of what’s true for us at any given moment while doing the work. The dreamer almost always benefits too, by having the choice to recognize any resonance and universality with the projections that are being shared. What tends to happen, then, is that the dreamers and the group participants start applying the “if it were my dream” idea to waking life and we say things like, “Well, if it were my decision to make, I would want to think about thus and such…”

On a very real level, projections are a useful thing – it turns out that making them is our effort to learn and become more aware. Anything that exists has something to show and teach us. Without an understanding of projection, we wander, lost and unsure of why we experience such intense opinions and emotions. With a modicum of understanding about the phenomenon of projection, we suddenly open ourselves to a vast storehouse of understanding that was not available to us before. Each time a projection is made, it’s an opportunity to bring into conscious memory some fragment of ones own lost or forgotten wholeness, at the very least, which has collective, social benefits as well. Doing so has the effect of encouraging others to do the same, and it also creates the kind of respectful group milieu where people can feel ‘seen’ and are able to seek to be themselves, not who others say we are or should be.