12 Ideas On How To Do Social Dreaming
Social dreaming has the potential to transcend the individual; by listening to dreams in community, we learn more about our culture and society providing us all with transformative potential without having a particular goal in mind.
In the chapter “Social Dreaming: report on the workshops held in Mauriburg, Raissa, and Clarice Town” from G. Lawrence’ 2003 Experiences in social dreaming, Claudio Neri shows how to use social dreaming to move from an individual or personal understanding of a dream to a social perspective using a mosaic of associations and thoughts with a group of participants in Israel who apply a social dreaming matrix to develop an understanding of the war in Afghanistan by focusing on the social aspects of a dream about a warship instead of the personal ones.
Author Claudio Neri has wide experiences in group therapy; he published Group in 1998 and Dreams in Group Psychotherapy: Theory and Techniques in 2002. He has conducted group matrices in Europe Israel and Australia (p. xvii).
According to Neri, social dreaming sessions usually require 90 minutes and should be part of a series of meetings, possibly 3-5 over the course of a week or one ore more a week for a few months, not just done in one session because dreams will follow that respond to the dreams shared in the matrix of the session (p. 16). A social dreaming matrix is the group, the container for the dreams, and the practice itself (p. 21).
Neri recommends keeping the group under 35 with a staff of 3 leaders or one leader for every 10 participants or so, and having the participants sit in a spiral, not a circle. Participants need to know the process of social dreaming: to share dreams, make associations, and explore possible social meanings (p. 17).
W. Gordon Lawrence, who developed social dreaming and continues to be a leader in the field, starts his social dreaming matrix with this statement of purpose and leading question: “The primary task is to associate to one’s own and others’ dreams as they are made available in the matrix, so as to make links and find connections. Who has the first dream?” (p. 17).
In a social dreaming matrix, an individuals dreams do NOT belong to that dreamer, but are seen as deeply meaningful, shared experiences which are relevant to all (p.17).
Some Guidelines for Social Dreaming Events (p. 17):
1. Keep the group manageable in size.
2. Meet several times over a designated period.
3. Keep the time to 90 minutes.
4. Allow each person to speak for up to 10 minutes.
5. Keep it democratic: have the leader avoid answering questions; avoid one on one dialogues.
6. Practice free association and allow this to amplify the emotional and thematic contents of the dream.
7. Allow dreams to be dreamt a second time in the matrix (p. 18).
8. Shift your perspective to create space to imagine the dream as your own (p. 18).
9. The leader helps the matrix follow the guidelines and recognize the practice of the matrix; the matrix looks for allegories, associations, meanings, symbols (p. 19).
10. Avoid determining a purpose for the social dreaming matrix event (p. 19).
11. Use the social dreaming matrix to focus on the dreams and interconnections, not on the dreamers, to allow the matrix to create “a mosaic of images and associations” to reveal the impact of current events (or the infinite or the collective unconscious) (p. 20).
12. Maintain the foundation of social dreaming (p. 22-23):
a. the idea of the dream being a container for questions and ideas
b. that all organizations include dreams and fantasies (the first level is practical and administrative, the second is visionary and ideological; dreams and fantasies are a third level)
c. a democratic, social centric practice
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