We dream for our communities and our world, as well as for ourselves and those near to us. We can learn to do this as a conscious practice in the service of peace and healing. By bringing dreams into the lives of people around us, we can heal and revitalize all our relations, our workplace, our schools, our health care, and our communities.
Harriet Tubman dreamed liberation for her people and was able to guide three hundred escaping slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad with the guidance of specific dreams that showed her the way to river crossings and safe houses they had never previously seen. Her story is an inspiring example of how we can dream for a whole community.
Another aspect of community dreaming is that many people may dream about the same event or issue of common concern. This happens spontaneously. It can also become a conscious practice when members of an association or organization agree to ask for dream guidance on a shared intention or develop the practice of mutual visioning.
The possibility that large numbers of people may dream about issues of community concern was recognized, and regarded as highly significant, in ancient times. In his Oneirocritica (“The Interpretation of Dreams,” from which Freud borrowed his title), Artemidorus discussed dreams that he classified as “politic”: those that occur on the same night to many of the inhabitants of a city and involve events of importance to that community.
We can agree to dream together on a common theme. Dream incubation may not yet be a standard resource in the workplace, or even in those retreats where company employees are urged to “think outside the box,” but it should be!
One corporate retreat was going nowhere until a facilitator who had attended my workshops persuaded the CEO to invite the executives to dream overnight on the main challenge facing the company. In the morning, the boss revealed that he himself had dreamed a creative solution, and the experience of dream-sharing enlivened and loosened up the group, making the retreat much more rewarding than might otherwise have been the case and leading to longer-term organizational healing.
Sometimes, we can change things for the better in a social or work situation simply by carrying the energy of a dream. I know a manager who was involved in bruising daily battles with a tough labor union leader. She could hardly bear to be in the same room with this man, and their personal conflict was undermining the company and labor relations. Then she dreamed that she met the labor leader in an informal setting. He was utterly charming and introduced her to his sister, who was named Charity.
She woke with completely different feelings about her workplace antagonist. Reflecting on the dream, she realized that if his sister was “Charity,” his agenda might be much gentler and more compassionate that she had allowed herself to recognize. She did not tell the union guy the dream. She simply carried its energy when she went back to the negotiating table. By the end of the week, her relations with her former antagonist had been transformed; they were now on the best of terms and a difficult contract negotiation went through smoothly.
Adapted from Active Dreaming: Journeying Beyond Self-Limitation to a Life of Wild Freedom by Robert Moss. Published by New World Library.