Dreamwork is applied to the dream for additional experiences of related meaning based on re-experiencing dream content in new ways using the Jungian-Senoi or other methodologies. If you have a methodology, you don’t need a dogma.
Theories and models are okay if seen as themselves working methods for creating original and beneficial experience. Our biggest issue, perhaps, is that of identification-projection when it comes to working with dream content.
Historically there has been a big tendency to impose on dreams to get meaning a Symbol System. In psychology it is their personality theory, like the Jungian anima-animus or shadow-persona. Such imposing of a symbol system onto dreams to produce dreamwork is likely to be highly distracting, taking people away from direct re-experiencing of the dream and not towards it
We note that other approaches to working with dreams also impose symbol systems onto dreams. The Ulman approach of ‘if this were my dream …’ is a symbol system!
People project their own content, life experiences and attitudes onto a person’s dream when they recite it. Simply allowing the dreamer to reject these projections does not make it clear what the dream’s content and meaning are. One can get meaning of course from people’s projections onto one’s personal dream, but get confused as well.
In addition, it is artificial to have rules. Rules are dogmas, not methods. ‘If this were my dream …’ and then saying anything that comes to one is objectively just another form of projection and interpreting.
We have already begun to show that Freudian and Jungian systems are also symbol systems imposed onto dream content rather than derived from dream content.
Attitudes in life and dreams
An attitude is a fundamental statement about life used over and over again for evaluating life and dream experiences. ‘Good people are better to relate to than bad,’ is a statement millions of people use in this world in forming relationships. When asked where did they get such a ‘truth?’ Or how do you know your attitude is true, and what are the results, people come up with a blank.
Most people have not made their attitudes conscious but they certainly use them over and over for everyday choice-making, whether proven logically or not.
The amazing thing about dreamwork as we do it with our methods of Following the Dream Ego and Dialogue is that such dreamwork reveals attitudes in the personality of the dreamer that may be totally unconscious to the dreamer. When you use an attitude you are not consciously aware of you can get into a lot of trouble in life if your unconscious attitudes do not fit that well with the reality of your actual experiences in the world. Literature has many character examples of characters who fail because the attitudes they operate by simply are not consistent with reality as it experientially is.
Defining dream-life issues
The dream and its dreamwork, as we do it, is the middle ground between inner and outer.
We make conscious the dream’s dynamics and issues through Objectifying Dreams and Following The Dream Ego.
We relate the dream’s issues and dynamics to personality experiences, past and present, as well as personality dynamics such as archetypal patterns and attitudes.
We relate the dream’s dynamics and issues also to the dreamer’s present life where we look for similarities and contrasts in how the dream ego is acting or not acting and how the person’s waking ego is acting or not acting.
We relate the dream’s issues and dynamics to future dreaming and especially future waking life choices through doing dream enactments and dream tasks.
One brief example is acting out in the dream group the dreamer’s fear of flying when she had a dream of her in an airplane full of passengers about to crash. This time in re-enacting the dream we acted out the dreamer going into the moments before the crash and then when she was ready into an actual crash. Of course, she evaluated her experiences in the enactments with us and out of this made the choice to start flying. Through dreamwork, we could take her through what she was afraid of. End of Story!
Dream group participants have said things like, ‘my dreams are the most honest part of myself.’ We don’t deny or affirm such a statement as dreamworkers and guides. We simply invite: let’s see how that works for you ….
Through doing careful, somewhat neutral dreamwork with a dreamer the dreamer gets to the place of recognizing through the ongoing dreamwork his or her dream and life issues, situations unresolved in the dream and in life. We use the method: similarities and contrasts. We get many real issues identified. We enact solutions to these issues using dreamwork methods, not ego-dominated methods or outside symbol systems such as ‘New Age philosophy.’
Thus prepared in the middle ground of active and ongoing dreamwork, the dreamer is prepared now to go out into life and act differently and more effectively in dealing with life’s situations. The effects of this dreamwork and lifework process can often be summarized in wisdom statements or dream teachings. One example is: to face the negative go through the negative and integrate the negative with the positive. This sounds complicated but it works out well when applied to working with nightmares for instance*.
One dreamer dreamed of floating out to sea until she woke up in extreme fear. The enactment was to have four of her dream group float her out to sea to the limit of her fears, and then bring her back into shore. This was the teaching that her fears are real but that she can also set limits to how much of the dark side she lets go to, an ego development teaching.
by Strephon Kaplan-Williams
* Kaplan-Williams has taken mentally unbalanced dreamers sometimes through their nightmare situations, dreams of disaster and loss dreamed over and over again, but with appropriate interventions.