If we could fold time, travel forward a century or two, and then look backward, I believe we would find abundant confirmation that the rise of the dreamwork movement is one of the most important developments of the modern era.
In my brighter vision of what is to come, our society will be guided by dream helpers who are dreaming with and for the Earth itself. Their constant work is to help those around them to use dreams for guidance and healing, as a direct line to the God/Goddess we can talk to. Dream helpers play a central role in healthcare, now it is recognized that dreams diagnose problems before they manifest and that dream imagery and conscious interactive dreaming offer vital tools for healing.
Dreamworkers help the dying to prepare for the afterlife journey by following the path of the soul in dreams, and in this way they learn to go through the swing-door of death with confidence and grace. In the workplace, the day begins with dream leaders helping colleagues to share their dreams and to grow community visions. In our schools, our children become storytellers, communicators and creators by sharing and giving creative expression to dreams – and get credits for doing this.
In this happy future, dream guides are valued because they midwife creativity and healing but above all because it is understood that they help us to connect with soul, and that this is vital to our survival as an evolving species in balance with our environment. Dream travelers are respected because it is now common knowledge that they have direct access to the flux of consciousness that particle physicists found to lie at the heart of matter – more specifically, to the “hidden” six or seven dimensions of the multiverse identified by superstring theory – even before the end of the 20th century.
In my darker vision of what is to come, I see dream travelers and dreamworkers helping to rebuild our world after a catastrophe. In spontaneous dreams and visions over many years, I have found myself traveling into a possible future in which an order of priestess-scientists are trying to repair the havoc caused by the ignorance and violence of men of power who did not listen to dreams. The dream priestesses of the future have perfected the arts of community dreaming and group dream travel, and have been able to access immense sources of energy and knowledge at the heart of subatomic space. Dreaming, they reach out to educate and inspire those who will help humanity to find its way.
Dreamworkers may follow many different approaches to dreams, but by my observation they agree on the following:
1. Dreams are important!
2. The only “expert” on a dream is the dreamer.
3. Dreams connect us to sources of guidance that are wiser than the everyday mind.
4. Dreamers should help each other, wherever possible, to open a safe and sacred space where dreams can be shared and the dreamer can be offered non-intrusive feedback and guided to take appropriate action to honor the dream.
5. Dreaming is for the community as well as the individual.
We need many more dream helpers from all walks of life, contributing a panoply of rich and varied perspectives, personalities and life experiences, to bring the gifts of dreaming to people where they live. And we need an everyday process that enables us to open a safe space to share dreams, receive helpful and non-intrusive feedback and be gently goaded towards appropriate action to honor our dreams – a process that is quick and simple enough to be used just about anywhere, anytime, and flexible enough to accommodate multiple perspectives on dreams. My Lightning Dreamwork method offers us this process, and is now being taught in classes and used by dream circles all over the map.
As we learn to share and celebrate our dreams, we find that dreaming brings us, and our communities, back to the place of the heart. When I was teaching at the Esalen Institute in California, I found myself in a dream that made this very clear:
Mountain Lion Pulls Me Up to the Place of the Heart
I am climbing a steep cliff, carrying a small white box. The cliff is hard to scale, but someone at the top lowers a beaded strap to me. When I grasp it, I am startled to see that the other end is held by a mountain lion. The mountain lion pulls me up, immensely higher than I had expected, until I am on a lofty peak with a commanding view over the coastline and nearby towns and forests. Now the lion directs me to open the box, and I take out a beating red heart. When I place it on a boulder at the summit, the heart beats steadily and powerfully. I know that the heartbeat is reaching people across a great distance. I feel the heartbeat shepherding them towards healing rhythms in their lives, and recalling them to the wisdom of the heart.
I shared this dream with a circle I was leading. We did more than discuss it. We agreed to travel inside it, in a conscious group journey assisted by shamanic drumming. We climbed the mountain to receive healing and guidance in the realm of the animal guardians and the place of the heart. The heart center is where we find courage, and reconnect with what truly matters. Our role, as dream helpers, is to encourage each other to go there, and move beyond our conflict and confusion to the heart of the world.
For more on dreaming with and for our communities, please see my book Active Dreaming. For the Lightning Dreamwork process and other everyday dream games, please see my book The Three “Only” Things: Tapping the Power of Dreams, Coincidence and Imagination
I am leading new week-long adventures, “Dreamgates: Exploring the Worlds of Soul, Imagination and Life Beyond Death” at the Omega Institute near Rhinebeck NY from June 2-7 and at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California from November 10-15, 2013.