Dream Gates

Dream Gates

Shared Dreaming, before and after “Inception”

Thumbnail image for Inception-3D-Building-Ad_Crop.jpgI’m looking forward to seeing the movie Inception.  Judging by the advance notices, the director, and the cast, I expect it to be brilliant. I have one reservation. It’s not about the movie itself. It’s about the problematic use of a term, and how this relates to a larger problem of understanding.


The problem, simply stated, is this. Powers of dreaming that are natural, fun and healing are (1) dismissed as illusory by academic “experts” who don’t keep journals and don’t seem to do much dreaming, and by hard-boiled reporters who follow their lead while at the same time (2) those same natural powers are presented by Hollywood as science fiction in which dreaming abilities are often the perquisite of drug-fueled Dark Side psychic warriors.

The problematic term is “shared dreaming.” In the movie promos, “shared dreaming” appears to be the learned technique of psychic spies and mind manipulators tasked to extract information from other people’s dreaming minds, or implant thoughts in them. 
Such things are certainly possible outside of science fiction, but they are more properly described as psychic intrusion or dream sending (a term I’ll explain in a later article). Off-screen, shared dreaming may be a wholly benign and energizing consensual adventure, part of a spectrum of options for what I call social dreaming.


While we tend to think of dreams as private and personal, dreaming is actually a highly social activity. Many of us, indeed, are far more gregarious in our dreams than in our ordinary daily lives.
As we share dreams with friends and family on a regular basis, we may notice that sometimes our dreams overlap rather closely. We may have been dreaming on the same theme, or visiting the same dreamscape, on the same night. Sometimes we have shared adventures, though (more often than not) only one of the dreamers remembers exactly what was going on.

We are drawn together in dreams in the same ways that we are drawn to each other in waking life: by family ties, by shared interest, by common concerns, by love and sexual attraction, by the need for healing or the desire for fun and adventure
As we become Active Dreamers, we can develop the practice of embarking on conscious interactive dream journeys with focused intention. We can do this up close or at any distance. We can learn to enter shared dreaming with an intimate partner who shares our bed, with a group of friends in a living room, or with a network of dreamers in other parts of the world.
Thumbnail image for 3 Muses - Michele Ferro.jpg


Let’s pause to define the varieties of social dreaming:

Synchronous or concurrent dreams are those in which two or more dreamers have very similar dream experiences at the same time. They may or may not see each other inside the dreams.

Interactive or mutual dreams are those in which two or more dreamers are aware of each other and interact with each other in a shared dreamscape. In terms of ordinary time, their experiences may or may not be synchronous.

Shared dreaming, in my lexicon, is the practice of embarking on intentional interactive dream travels with one or more partners.

Group dreaming or group dream travel is shared dreaming conducted with a whole circle or network of participants. 


Director Christopher Nolan said in an interview with the New York Times: “What Inception deals with is a science fiction concept in which…you and I are able to experience the same dream at the same time. Once you remove the privacy, you’ve created an infinite number of alternate universes in which people can meaningfully interact – with validity, with weight, with dramatic consequences.”

Yes, it’s a great idea for a movie. And far from being only a science fiction concept, interactive or social dreaming is a real phenomenon in our lives that may go on every night. Shared dreaming  is a practice that can be learned – without chemicals or psywar trainers – and developed as both a home entertainment system and a method of gaining first-hand data on the nature of life in the multiverse. We’ll see how in the next article.


Next: Shared Dreaming as Home Entertainment

Poster for “Inception” spotted in New York City.

“Three Muses” drawing by Michele Ferro

  • Savannah

    I love this, and I’ll look forward to the movie! Not so sci-fi at all, as so many of us dreamers have discovered quite naturally…

  • Wanda Burch

    I eagerly anticipate your continued exploration of shared dreaming. It is, for me, an intriguing aspect of dreaming and was my introduction to our friendship in a dream experience that led to a discovery of remarkable shared dreaming that had begun long before we met. That shared dreaming has been fun through our years of friendship, but, more importantly, continued during a period of health crisis when I needed it most.
    I have so many other stories as well, including one with Ron, my husband, in which a situation arose where he began telling the story of an orchid positioned at the end of a long room. I began filling in the blanks, then him, then me; and we discovered we had dreamed – on the same night – the absolutely exact same dream of a house with slatted blinds and an orchid near a window. Both of us could recall the details of the person/people inside the house but neither of us have met this person – yet.
    And shared dreaming with our children is an equally remarkable experience. My son and I experienced one which foretold the details of his coming wedding [coming a decade later] in such exacting details that the minister walked up to me after the wedding and said to me – as I was looking down on a scene in San Francisco Bay that was the scene from our original shared dream in the door of the church that was in the dream – “this was an unusual wedding, almost like a dream!” I looked at the bride, also the “girl” in our shared dream – and said, “You have no idea!”

  • Robert Moss

    Wanda – Yes, you and I have experienced all aspects of “social” and conscious shared dreaming over more that 20 years – and perhaps since long before we met in the ordinary world – which is an example of how a great friendship can endure and deepen in more than one reality. We have also shared in many adventures in conscious group dreaming. You have recounted some of our shared dreams in your wonderful book “She Who Dreams” and I have included some more in my own books. Thanks for the examples of interactive dreaming with your son and husband, which will inspire others to open to the possibility of mutual dream adventures within the family.

  • Marina

    I also find this topic very interesting and looking forward to see the movie in the theater. In my opinion, they present the idea of shared dreaming as science fiction, because the general public is not quiet there yet in terms of buying the reality of it.
    As we all part of one and tapped into the same consiousness, it is only natural to share dreams. I have many experiences of having the same dreams (same night) with my mom, sister and my husband.
    Once we were even playing a game of meeting at some place in a dream. It worked several times, although as you mentioned mostly one of us was at the nominated place and actually remembered it:)

  • Janice

    Thanks for the movie tip. I am looking forward to seeing this.
    As a bit of synchronicity, I was debating to post a question on the dreamforum i.e. under questions or dreaming the future — when I read the your posting. The question I was going to ask was this: My father once had a dream in which he saw that I found an apartment and he saw all green around it. He called me to tell me his dream at the very moment I had just returend from securing an apartment that was decorated with green rugs and green walls. No one knew that I had even been to this apartment because I, myself, had no plans to go. I went on an impusle that arouse out of the blue, so to speak. My question is this: Is it possible that my father’s dream the night before in someway implanted an idea of possibility in my own dreamscape that led me to act on my impulse to secure this apartment?

  • Robert Moss

    Janice – The “green” experience you shared with your father – he dreams of you in an apartment surrounded by green and calls to tell you just as you return from viewing a matching apartment – raises very interesting questions. Some of my own most intriguing experiences of social dreaming have, similarly, spilled out of the dream screen, with friends dreaming of my waking activities around the time of their dreams, for example. Could your father’s dream have helped to open the situation that developed, happily, for you? I can’t answer that question, but I would not say “No”, since I know that dreams not only preview the future but lay a path for manifestation.

  • Robert Moss

    Marina – I agree with you that social dreaming, especially with family and friends, is entirely natural and probably goes on very frequently. The fact that so many of us are unaware of this phenomenon – to the point that we suppose it’s science fiction – is another indication of our estrangement from dreams, something we active dreamers are working to change.

  • Janice

    Thanks Robert,
    This is quite an interesting subject to discuss. I look forward to following this discussion.
    I am thinking now of Dr. Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic field theory and how we develop close social fields (like invisible rubberbands)that stretch and connect us across time and space — with those we love and share social experiences. It is interesting that now we have the term ‘social dreaming.” If this is the case then I can definitely see that something in our collective dreamspace that forms from our deep social bonds allowed me to act along the path of possibility.

  • Donna K

    I believe it was Schopenhauer who said “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as self-evident.” I think that possibly with the advent of SciFi, we might be circumventing the first two stages – or at least smoothing them a bit.
    ps: thanks for the dance in my dream last night! 😉

  • Robert Moss

    Donna K – That’s a cheering thought, as long as we can help everyone understand that conscious dream travel and social dreaming are everyday experiences for dreamers who have awakened to what dreaming can be. Since I was up all night writing, I can’t say that we shared a social dream dance; on the other hand, my mind was dancing with fresh ideas so I wouldn’t rule out some happy connection :-) Great to hear your voice on this blog!

  • Janice

    Had to come back to post this:
    In thinking about social fields, as described by Dr. Sheldrake – – invisible fields that stretch across time and space. Isn’t it wonderful that social dreaming can give us a picture into these invisible fields. Social dreaming is something everyone can do and see and feel (through effects of dreaming) while theories of social fields are difficult concepts to grasp.
    Oh. . now you got my thinking cap working overtime Robert!

  • Robert Moss

    Janice – I think I like your image of “invisible rubberbands” connecting people in a certain affinity group across time and space better than Sheldrake’s theories of morphic and morphogenetic fields. Though since Sheldrake has had to go through the gauntlet of phases 1&2 of the progression to accepted truth (as described by Donna K on this post) at the hands of a savagely dismissive scientific establishment, we may find that he’s onto something.
    An older way of describing part of his “morphic field” effect is the Hundred Monkey phenomenon, by which once 100 monkeys have learned something, supposedly that knowledge is suddenly in the possession of all of them. I’m hopeful that in the not-so-distant future we’ll see Active Dreaming becoming common knowledge through a similar effect. We need it!

  • Terron K. Dodd

    Nobody has to prove it to me, because it happened to me at least once I remember, but that was spontaneous. I am waiting for the advice on how to do it on purpose, if 2 people jointly want to try meeting in their dreams.
    I also want to say to the people discussing theories on how it works that the way it works cannot be a third-dimensional way. It doesn’t happen in the third dimension, and is bound to be difficult or impossible to explain in 3rd dimensional terms. No one can be an authority on it that doesn’t have experience with another dimension. So never mind what someone put forward as a theory. See if you can investigate it in your dreams and, if so, you’ll know more than any theorist, whether you can explain it in words or not!

  • Robert Moss

    Terron – I agree that first-hand experience is primary in these areas. I would put it even more strongly and say that the most important science of dreaming required field research INSIDE the multidimensional universe of dreaming. My next article in this series will offer practical suggestions for shared dreaming. Stay tuned.

  • Steffani Rave

    I think this is considered sci fi only because our current culture doesn’t honor dreams like our ancestors did. Synchronistically, last night, before reading this post- I dreamed I was a native woman whose job was to be a “dream collector”. I would organize social dreaming for our tribe. I would remember our group dreams, as well as individual dreams for our whole group. This helped us survive and thrive. For example, the tribe as a group dreamed pre-cognitively of a large group of bears wandering through our village. The event didn’t happen until many years later, then I did my job, reminding our group we dreamed this long ago, not to hurt the bears, they are here to help heal us. What a wonderful feeling it was to be so connected with dreams.
    So, I hope our current culture gets back to what this ancient culture had. Robert I do hope your 100th monkey idea happens soon! Thank you for doing the work to make it so!

  • Claire Perkins

    Wow! Talk about a timely post. My husband and I shared the dreamspace just 2 nights ago, unintentionally. I have been an active dreamer all of my life. My husband rarely remembers his dreams. This was such an amazing synchronicity that I am still processing it.
    My dream night began with a nightmare: I clearly hear the lock click open on the door from the garage to the house, hear footsteps coming up the stairs and try in vain to call out to my husband and the intruder. The intruder comes right to the side of my bed and takes my hand, in a hand that is soft and gentle, just as my husband shakes me awake to stop my obvious fear and distress.
    Later in the night, I dream that I am trying to make a phone call and hearing a foreign kind of dial tone that keeps ending in silence. After several tries, I hear the recorded voice of a French-speaking operator saying, “We’re sorry, but this phone is not equipped for French transmissions.” I shout, “English, please! What is the problem?” Next I hear my Dad’s voice (he passed in December 2008). “Dad, is that you?” We have a lovely conversation and I ask him what he’s been doing. He says, “Well, I caught me a fish!” I say, “You caught a fish?! Where were you fishing? Was it beautiful?” He says, “Well, it wasn’t as beautiful as Tahiti.” He tells me other things, too personal to share here, but filled with love. The connection left me feeling fabulous.
    I told my husband that I dreamed about my Dad the other night. He said, “I dreamed about your Dad, too. And my Mom and Dad.” We quickly confirmed that it was the same night of my nightmare. I asked him to share his dream with me.
    In his dream, he sees his mother and she, in her normal strident style, is griping that his dad has gone down to the lake to try and pull the boat out with his backhoe. My husband then sees his dad. His dad tells him he had to pull some old geezer in a sailboat from the lake with his backhoe. The lake is more like a pond. My husband is surprised to see that the “old geezer” is MY Dad!
    A few details that make this clearly a communication with the deceased, shared by my husband and I: My Dad was French-Canadian and French was his first language. It is not unlikely that he would try to communicate with me in that language. My Dad’s passion was sailing. My last conversation with my Dad, as he lay dying and nearly comatose from Alzheimer’s disease, was about the beautiful water’s of Tahiti (where he had traveled and sailed). I told him he could just sail away on those beautiful waters and let everything else go. My husband’s dad graded county roads for a living, driving a backhoe. My husbands’ dad and mom are both deceased and died years before my Dad did.
    It seems clear to me that my husband, my Dad, my in-laws and I all shared a very real experience in the dreamspace. My in-laws, who have been “over there” longer, seem to be looking out for my Dad. My Dad may very well have been the one who took my hand earlier in the night. My husband, who rarely remembers his dreams, was given a very powerful connection to his parents as well. I am left feeling full of love and once again amazed at the power of dreaming!

  • Robert Moss

    Steffani – What an excellent dream! Our society is urgently in need of “dream collectors” like the one you became with your dream people. I love the scene where you remind the people, when an “old” dream is fulfilled, that bears come to heal, as they so often do in contemporary dreams when we stop running away from our own medicine. I can see that the Bear – the great medicine animal of North America, also part of the ancestral traditions of Europe and Asia – is asking to be acknowledged on this blog, and we’ll make space for that soon.

  • Robert Moss

    Claire – Thanks for sharing this fascinating report. It seems that you and your husband were not only dreaming together, but involved in an interactive dream with departed loved ones. Just a couple of quick notes, in this space. While you use the word “nightmare” for the initial scene from which your husband roused you, I would call this a “nightmare” only in the sense that it was an interrupted dream. The gentle touch of the visitor would make me feel that this may have been an initial approach from Dad, who later comes through in another way. I’d tell my spouse firmly not to pull me out of dreams in the future!
    I’m delighted by the scene in your husband’s dream in which HIS dad is pulling the “old geezer” who turns out to be YOUR dad out of a stuck place. And by your Dad’s beautiful message that he has found new waters in which to fish – and is clearly getting a new life on the Other Side.
    Dream encounters with departed loved ones are the most important evidence most of us have for the soul’s survival of physical death, and possibly the principal reason why people who have previously been closed to dreaming awaken to what dreams can be. We’ll be exploring the theme of dreaming WITH the departed – one of the most significant modes of social dreaming – on future threads on this blog. My books “Dreamgates” and “The Dreamer’s Book of the Dead” contain a wealth of inspiring stories and practical guidance on this theme.

  • Maureen Boyd Biro

    Well, this is a subject that really intrigues me as it’s been part of my dream experience for a long time. I have shared dreams with my mother, daughter and husband, though it seems to happen most frequently with my daughter. Often there are subtle variations in the way the dream plays out, and if may be that my daughter and I experience this more often because we discuss and record our dreams regularly. When I first began exploring dreams, I didn’t know enough about dream study to question whether or not I could dream the same dream as someone else, including a stranger, and I think this has a lot to do with why this came so naturally to me. I simply expected to be able to do this. I’ve participated in a few online dream conferences, where I have set the intention to experience mutual dreaming, then done so successfully, again, I feel, because I believed I could. Terron, if I could offer you one piece of advice on this subject, this would be it. I’ve also found it helpful to clear my energy, and put my daytime experiences aside – literally in a separate container – to unclutter my thoughts and calm my emotions.
    Robert, I’ll be eager to read your next installment on this subject!

  • Robert Moss

    Maureen – Thanks for confirming the primacy of practice over theory. Before our brains get snagged in self-limiting beliefs, we simply get “out there” and DO our dreaming. Of course, it is helpful to have working models for what makes these things possible – and to dialogue with that necessary skeptic in the left brain – but experience is primary.
    That’s a good comment you made about clearing. We need to leave our mental baggage behind in order to get to the good stuff.

  • Don Dimock

    I have had a deep interest in this sort of thing for years. But I have never had any instruction. I wanted to see places I have never been to, for instance. On rare occasions I have met friends and acquaintences in dreams. On a few, very few occasions we had conversations that we both remembered afterwards.
    I once knew a lady who frequently had out-of-body travel in her dreams. She was able to prove that she had been there by knowing what was there.
    I would like to do more shared dreaming.

  • Robert Moss

    Don – Well, we now have a dream school and this blog is proving to be quite an interesting teaching vehicle. I approve of that lady’s practice of verifying her astral experiences. In dream travel, consciousness makes excursions beyond the physical body naturally and effortlessly; there is really no need to sweat this. In my book “Dreamgates” I discuss the fact that while places we visit in dream travel may closely correspond to physical locales, they are very often part of a “counterpart reality” that is subtly different and has different physics.

  • Janice

    I can’t take credit for the rubber-band imagery. I do believe I read that somewhere else. I think Dr. Sheldrake would agree with the idea that we all need to become backyard scientists.
    On another note: my husband and I shared the same dream on the same night, as well: I had a dream that I had given birth to an African American baby. In my dream, I was an African American woman. When I shared my dream with my husband he told me that he had had a dream — that very same night — that I had given birth to an African American baby.
    I like the idea of planning a trip as discussed in your new posting! I will swing over there and plan mine!

  • Robert Moss

    Janice – That mutual dream with your husband in which you are an African-American woman giving birth to an African-American baby may well be an example of the kind of dream that extends our humanity by putting us inside the circumstances of another person and community. It may also be a case of entering the situation of another member of a family of personalities in other places, times and/or dimensions that are connected to the present self – and thus an invitation to learn more about the multidimensional self. Discovering that we have shared an adventure of this kind with a partner is always very confirming.Thanks for all the wealth of experience you are sharing here!

  • Daniel

    I have always found shared dreaming fascinating (and also precognitive dreaming) and believe that natural learning of this skill is very possible; though as in Inception, I feel technology can help assist with learning shared or mutual dreaming, or at least the timing and coordination of such experiences. And technology itself can provide other forms of dream entertainment. Below is the text of the 2010 preface to my book The Inception of Conscious and Lucid Dreams. I am curious on your thoughts, guessing you are not that excited about electronic-assisted inter-dreaming:
    Multi-Player Dream Games
    In this book, I write of a crude lucid dream (LD) induction device that I constructed in 1974 out of Radio Shack parts. It was fun to signal the dreaming world from the waking; however my true “dream” was a technology that would allow two or more dreamers to communicate to each other from within their dreams. This is not quite the same as shared dreaming or mutual dreaming (a subject popular in books and movies like Dreamscape or Inception) which allow multiple dreamers to experience a common dream environment; rather I was interested in simple, “scientific” inter-dream communication using modern technological tools and the internet. Today there are such tools available that provide the basis for dream-to-dream communication: dream mask devices such as the REM Dreamer and NovaDreamer from top scientists and engineers which both signal the dreamer from the waking world and also allow the lucid dreamer to signal back to the device from the dream world. Thus, it is possible, with the right software and a website controller program (such as multi-player game and chat sites use), to coordinate two or more lucid dream masks with computer connections and allow very simple communication between dreamers; even multi-player dream games that bring a social element into a previously private experience—a Facebook for the mind; a DreamBook, if you will.
    These devices and games work on two very simple and proven scientific principles: external sensory signals such as lights, sounds or tactile stimuli from a mask device can be incorporated into an ongoing dream story and carry meanings or cues from the outside to the dreamer (for example, a red flashing light may become a traffic signal in a dream carrying the message “Hello, you are dreaming.”); and conversely, eye movements (or hand movements) by the dreamer such as looking up into the “dream sky” can be interpreted by a mask device as carrying a message from the dream world like “Yes, hello world.”
    Considering these scientific principles then, the ingredients for multi-player lucid dream connectivity are:
    1. A lucid dream cuing device such as a dream mask or audio device with dreamer response detection and interpretation.
    2. Computer software (LD program) that has two-way, real-time communication with the cuing device.
    3. Computer software (LD program extension) that has two-way, real-time communication with a remote host site.
    4. A multi-player host website program that receives input from the LD programs and issues messages to them.
    Here are a few scenarios that could be fun for dreamers in a multi-player environment:
    1. Two players register and log onto the LD multi-player website, selecting the other player to communicate with that night and which player is to be the guide player (first dreamer cued). The respective local LD programs monitor the eye movements during the sleep of the players and upon REM detection send a message to the website that the respective dreamer is in REM; the website host program waits for both players to reach REM, then the host sends a command to the local LD software to signal the guide dreamer via audio/visual cue that she is dreaming. When (if) she becomes lucid, this lucid dreamer now signals (via eye movement) the mask/program to stop cueing and, in addition, send a message to the host program to notify the other dreamer that he is dreaming by audio/visual cue (could even be a pre-recorded audio cue in the guide’s own voice). The signal to the recipient’s to become lucid is now coming directly from the guide dreamer and may carry more meaning than a neutral cue (and lots more fun). For those folks with an interest in mutual dreaming, this may prove also to be a useful initiator for such a dream, coordinating the timing for lucid dream sharing.
    2. A lucid dream race: players log on and join the race, then go to sleep. The host site waits until all the respective LD local programs indicate REM state for all the players (hopefully at some point all REM’s coincide). The host site sends commands to all the local programs to cue all the dreamers more or less at the same time. The dreamers, upon becoming lucid, signal to stop the cue and, in addition, send a message to the host site that they are lucid. The winner of the race is recorded on the host site and the players can view the results–just for fun, of course, but competition can have a strong motivational effect, as many psychologists know.
    3. This multi-player scenario would require a mask with various colored lights or audio cues and dreamer feedback variability. The dreamers, upon both becoming lucid, signal different eye movements to the other dreamer (via the local LD programs’ connection to the host website) which result in varied cues, the meaning of which is agreed upon beforehand when the players register for this ‘game.’ A “hello” signal from one dreamer can result in a ‘blue’ cue to the other; an “I am flying” signal from the other dreamer could result in a ‘yellow’ cue to the first, and so on. Audio messages could be used as well.
    4. Masks or other cuing devices with multiple cuing options such as varied colors could also be used to enable more than two dreamers to send messages to the entire group in the same session. Dreamers sign up for the night’s session and assign themselves a color cue or audio cue. As the dreamers become lucid, the host software sends that dreamer’s cue sign to the rest of the group. A dreamer, for example, recognizes the ‘red’ cue as “Mike has just joined us” and the ‘blue’ cue as “Sally’s lucid now too.”
    While the lucid dreamer communication described here is very rudimentary, the exciting thing is that such dream games as outlined above are technologically feasible right now. We are near the point with inter-dream communication that Alexander Bell was when he spoke ‘Mister Watson, come here! I need you!’

  • Robert Moss

    David – All of this sounds ingenious, but I doubt that any technology on offer now or in the future will match what is possible through practice in drug-free shamanic lucid dreaming – a long-winded name for what I simply call conscious or Active Dreaming – in which the sole technology in use is steady drumming. For example, in my current retreat 22 people journeyed together, fueled by drumming, into one person’s dream of a tiger with thrilling, hyper-vivid andmutually confirming results that also brought deep healing and resolution for the dreamer. My book “Dreamgates” is full of accounts of other conscious group journeys.

  • Robert

    I share dreams practically every night with people on lucid dreaming forums. it is an amazing experience and well worth to try.
    for you lucid experts out there. Try this:
    get two or more people who are able to lucid dream regularly. Set up a dreamscape on which those dreamers can meet. And have everyone go there lucidly the same night. Report your findings.
    also for those with dream control: lock onto energy signatures of the dreamer you are looking for, with that mind and feeling change the dream. the next dream should be the other person’s dream. this same technique can be used to find dead people in dreaming, spirit guides and astral lovers. try it… i DARE you.

  • Robert Moss

    Hey Robert – We do this too, and not only at night. And proficient dreamers have been doing this for millennia, you know.

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