Dream Work In Cyberspace

I have been working with people on the internet, helping them come to greater conscious understanding and appreciation of the deeper meanings and implications of their dreams for more than two decades. In the beginning, it was all typing and keyboard communication, but as the technology evolved, the advent of live, face-to-face web video interaction has taken on-line dream work to whole new levels.
 
My first venture into cyber-dream-work was on America On Line (AOL), back in the mid-1990's. I believe the “AOL Dream Show” was the first regularly scheduled participatory group dream work on the internet.
 
At that time, AOL financed their operation with “taxi-meter” charges, based on how much time a person spent logged onto AOL. “Content providers”, such as myself, were paid a tiny percentage of the basic AOL "taxi meter" fee for service, again based on the amount of time individuals spent logged on a particular site.
 
For a substantive account of these early days of internet dream work, you might want to take a look at Internet Dreams: Archetypes, Myths, and Metaphors edited by Mark J. Stefik, (MIT Press, 1997), particularly the article at the end of the book by Barbara Viglizzo, describing the first “beta testing” of the AOL "chat room" format for group dream exploration by a group of skilled dream workers and volunteer dreamers.
 
When AOL shifted to a flat-rate payment plan, the bottom fell out of the “chat market.” Suddenly, content providers received no payment from AOL at all, no matter how many people crowded onto their sites, and no matter how long they staid logged on. There was an effort to keep the AOL Dream Show going on a “pay-per-play” basis. Under the new system inaugurated by AOL, participants could join or drop in to view the daily Dream Show for free, but had to click on “purchase” whenever the group work began to get to the point of generating new insight in the work with any dream. I was very unhappy with this turn of events, and ended my contract work with AOL, and moved to private on-line groups for my continuing efforts to refine techniques and strategies for projective dream exploration on the internet.
 
Around the turn of the new millennium, with the advent and wider distribution of built-in “web cams” on home computers, it became possible to have live, real time, face-to-face conversations with people anywhere on the planet, any time of the day or night, and, in my case, most of those conversations continued to be focused on a generating deeper conscious understanding of dreams remembered from sleep.
 
All this international and cross-cultural dream work, facilitated by technological developments in internet communications, provided and continues to provide compelling, practical, experiential evidence that there are levels of human consciousness – and particularly dream consciousness – that we all share, regardless of gender, language, age, culture, religious differences, etc. The ability of relative strangers from vastly different cultures and widely separated geographic locations to share their remembered dreams with one another, and in the process to generate significant insights regarding the deeper meanings and implications of these dream experiences by talking with one another, (even when using the relatively clumsy intermediary of automated translation programs!), proves on a daily and hourly basis that we really are one folk, united by deep shared common humanity that reveals itself consistently and enticingly in our dreams.
 
Recently, this style of exploring dreams in small groups, both on and off-line, using the egalitarian, projective, "…in my imagined version of this dream…" approach came to the attention of Rev. Meg Riley, the Senior Minister of the "Church of the Larger Fellowship", (CLF), (an affiliated "congregation" of the Unitarian Universalist Association). The primary charter of the CLF since its founding in 1944, right at the end of WWII, has always been to seek out, identify, and attempt to serve the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual needs of geographically and philosophically isolated individual spiritual and ethical seekers, no matter where they might reside.
 
Rev. Riley recognized that on-line group projective group dream work, had an strong, unusual, and unique potential for bringing isolated "un-churched" seekers together into increasingly intimate small groups, and helping to focus their conversations in more meaningful and psycho-spiritually deepening ways than can be easily achieved in simple theological speculation and discussion of current events.
 
In 2012, she turned to me and asked me to create an on-line training program for leaders and facilitators of small projective on-line dream groups. I accepted this opportunity with great enthusiasm, and decided that the best first step in putting together such a program would be to write a training manual that people could refer to at any time, which addressed both the practical details of running a small, emotionally safe groups on-line, and focused on how to best explore the deeper possible implications of our dreams remembered from sleep.
 
I decided for a number of reasons to compose this training manual as a “serious” comic book. The result was the CLF ON-LINE DREAM WORK LEADERSHIP TRAINING MANUAL, (which you may take a look at, in its entirety, for free in “preview” mode, from the link above).
 
People interested in receiving the training were recruited, both on and off-line, and the first on-line leadership/facilitation training session began in February of 2013. As of this writing, (April, 2013), the program has proven to be a success – so much so that it will be offered through the auspices of the CLF again in the Fall.
 
I am convinced that this fortuitous combination of increasing technological innovation in world-wide individual and group communication, together with increasing sophistication about the nature of human unconscious potential for both good and evil, (work exemplified by the pioneering work of the CLF on-line dream groups), can dramatically deepen and extend our more conscious understanding of the importance of projection and other unconscious factors in our individual and public, collective lives and decision making. The coming together of the freedom of speech and shared communication provided by the internet, and the ability to support one another in an informed and egalitarian fashion as we explore the deeper creative gifts of our dreams is creating a situation where the problems we all face can be better understood and, if not “solved”, at least transformed. Out of that deepening conscious understanding of the deep, shared common humanity that binds us all together into a single, interdependent planetary bio-sphere, strategies for productive, progressive, and permanent change in our individual and corporate lives can be discovered and implemented.
 
All the problems we face, from racial, gender, cultural oppression to on-going degradation of the natural environment, can be seen with increasing clarity as the consequences of unconscious factors, with projection at the top of the list.
 
Sharing this growing understanding of the central role of unconscious projection in all our lives around the planet, particularly in the context of mutual, egalitarian exploration of our dreams remembered from sleep, has the potential of generating new solutions to our shared dilemmas – solutions which can be implemented by individual people cooperating with one another, with or without the participation of the institutions of government and religion.

© 2013 by Jeremy Taylor