Many wisdom traditions extol the importance of community or congregation. When someone commits to the Buddhist path, for example, they take vows of refuge in three things: the Buddha, as an exemplar of the path; the dharma, or the collection of teachings; and the sangha,or community of like-minded practitioners. Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has written elegantly about how the sangha is in many ways the most important of these three. The principal inspiration for launching our Night Club is indeed the “club” aspect, which warrants further commentary.
When many people think about dreams they think about dream interpretation, and the value of decoding the cryptic messages that come from our dreams. One Rabbi said “A dream uninterpreted is like a letter (from God) unopened.” I continue to work with dreams in this way, opening up letters from my deeper self, from the god within, and the occasional “special delivery” message that does feel like it comes from outside. While I treasure this avenue of working with dreams, strictly speaking it’s not under the purview of our nocturnal practices.
Interpretation or Liberation?
This topic is akin to the difference between meditation and therapy. Meditation is not interested in interpreting and psychoanalyzing the contents of mind, but in establishing a more sophisticated relationship to those contents. Similarly, dream yoga in particular, as our main nocturnal meditation, is not interested in the contents of our dreams, but in transforming our relationship to those contents. We do this by waking up to them (the first step of lucid dreaming, or becoming lucid to those contents), and then waking up from them (freeing ourselves from the power of those contents through the nine stages of dream yoga).
With this said, and in deep respect for the power of dream interpretation, I want to provide a forum in our Night Club where people can share their dreams, and invite others to help them understand their dreams. This is the only part of the Club where I will not offer running commentary, simply because I am not a psychologist nor am I trained in dream interpretation. I will, however, interview experts in this field, offer information on the wide spectrum of dreams (both lucid and non-lucid), and provide other resources for those interested in working with dreams at this bandwidth. For example, one of the most compelling books I’ve read on this topic is Let Your Body Interpret Your Dreams, by Eugene Gendlin, which I will review at a future date.
The Power of Dream Groups
Journalist Alice Robb, in her recent book, Why We Dream: The Transformative Power of Our Nightly Journey, has a rich chapter on the benefit of dream groups. Many of the following references come from her book. Mark Blechner, who teaches psychology at New York University, says, “It’s extraordinary how much you can learn about dreams through dream groups. Every time I present one of my own dreams, I am flabbergasted. It gives me profound insights into myself. . . . Trust, communion, and a sense of solidarity develop rapidly in a dream-sharing group. There is an interweaving of lives at so profound a level that the feeling of interconnectedness becomes a palpable reality.”
To what extent we can create this level of connection with an online platform remains to be seen. In the online programs I have done — with Mind Valley, Tricycle Magazine, and The Shift Network — the community aspect was very active and helpful for participants.
Robb writes, “New research confirms: participating in a dream group can yield a host of social and psychological benefits. . . . Clara Hill, a psychologist at the University of Maryland, has studied how dream groups can help people improve a relationship or cope with a breakup. . . . The catharsis of sharing their secrets and the pleasure of belonging to a community translated into a confidence that stretched beyond the limits of the weekly dream group. . . but people don’t need to consult the latest research to know that dream groups can be a source of insight and a balm for boredom and loneliness. [Dream groups] are a refuge for people who take their dreams seriously in a world that doesn’t understand.”
For those who are interested in apps, there are a host of apps like Dreamboard, Dreamwall, and DreamSphere where people can share and comment on one another’s dreams. This forum in our Club will similarly allow members to share both lucid and non-lucid dreams, and provide ongoing resources to further their understanding of dreams at this level.
Finally, I want to make myself as available as possible for members of Night Club. But I also need to concentrate on delivering content, preparing and delivering the Webinars, doing research for and interviewing our guests etc. The Community dialogues are mostly for members to discuss and share material between themselves. What I can do, however, is take some of the questions popping up on the Community pages and deal with those questions during the Webinars. After a 15-20 minute talk, the bulk of each Webinar will be live Q and A along with fielding questions such drawn from the Community pages. So if you have a question for me, write it here in the Questions to Andrew thread (in our Community). Either Allison, the Community moderator (bio below), or I will find your question and then add it to the next Webinar discussion period. I look forward to your questions, and the opportunity to discuss them with the greater community. This is what Allison wants to share about herself:
“I am an active member of the dream yoga community heavily influenced by Andrew’s work, the formative work of Stephen LaBerge, and most recently the mindful lucid dreaming program of Kristen La Marca. From an early age, I have been deeply connected to sleep and dreams experiencing spontaneous lucidity throughout my life. More recently, I have taken an intentional approach to my nighttime practices with a focus on mindfulness meditation, detailed dream recording/data, and using technology to recognize patterns and insights. I am drawn to dream yoga for its limitless creative potential and for developing spiritual practices that enable us all to live life with lightness, grace, and humor. By day, I lead a creative agency partnerships at Google and live in San Francisco.”