What’s a dream group?
Sharing dreams and commenting on them with other people gives the dreams an independent life. That’s the wonderful gift of dream groups, says Rev. Jeremy Taylor, D. Min., a Unitarian Universalist minister who is an adjunct faculty member at Sofia University in Palo Alto, Calif., and directs the Marin Institute for Projective Dream Work in San Rafael.
Taylor’s groups, which take place across the country, all start with a check-in period, during which members update each other on major concerns and briefly describe a recent dream with a summarizing title. A good title is one that vividly recalls the dream experience: Running After the Ant-Man Through the Cobblestone Streets, for example, is more evocative than The Chase or even an analytic title such as Feeling Like the Details of Life Are Getting Away From Me.
The cardinal rule in Taylor’s discussion method is understanding that each comment is not about the dream as much as it is about the person making the comment. “It’s all projection,” he says.
Participants begin with the phrase “If this were my dream ...” as a reminder that we bring our own feelings, memories and associations to the images in our dreams and the dreams of others. In a group, once a dream makes its way from the speaker’s imagination to that of the listener, it takes on a life of its own, arousing something different in everyone. And since every dream has multiple meanings, multiple projections from others in the group increase the chances of someone identifying a meaning that rings true to the dreamer.
“We are uniquely blind to our own dreams,” says Taylor, which is why describing a dream aloud to attentive listeners who respond back can improve our own interpretation and understanding.
But what if you’re so blind to your dreams that you don’t even remember them? “That’s all the more reason to come to a dream group,” says Taylor with a laugh. “You can make good use of other people’s dreams while you’re waiting for your own to assume a more memorable form.”