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Yoga-Dreams PROject
COurse Description

More info: davidj@dreamreplay.com

This is a guide to how we will work with dreams in the Yoga-Dreams Project. It is not a fixed, formal curriculum because we'll take our lead from the directions in which the dreams take us. One of the major reasons for looking at dreams is their spontaneity – you cannot know what will happen in tonight's dream.

In this project we are listening specifically for what the dreams tell you about your body and your yoga practice. Your dreams are actually full of references to the dream-body; it's just that you have to know how to look for them. By the end of this project you will be able to listen to your dreams as a running commentary on your yoga practice and to make adjustments to your practice accordingly.

Your dreams are of course ''talking'' to you about many important matters. In this project, we'll be ''tuning out'' other information that may well also be useful to you. For the next month, I ask that, to the best of your ability, you focus on the body knowledge in your dreams.

What to look for

In the first place, we look for ways in which the dreams are talking about you and your own yoga practice (see checklist). There might be very specific information about your practice. The dreams can also resonate with issues that are peripheral to your practice such as when to practice, whether you are practicing too much or too little, who is an appropriate teacher for you, how to modify your practice, how to reconcile your yoga practice with the demands of loved ones and others in your life and the thousands of other issues that arise when you have a serious commitment to your practice.

You might also find more global messages about the spiritual direction of your practice.

If you are a yoga teacher, you may well be dreaming for your students or about the business of being a yoga practitioner. We will look for guidance on all these matters. For example, if you dream that someone is showing you an easier way to change a tire, we may be led to consider your own teaching methods. If you continually dream that you are being short-changed, the dreams might be telling you to find ways to increase your income.

Here are some of the matters we'll address (also see Course Outline)

Remembering dreams

There are a few rules for getting your dream into your waking memory. The first few minutes after waking are crucial and we'll talk about techniques for remembering dreams. We'll also discuss the opposite situation, when your dreams are so long that writing them out is an excessive requirement. There will be a handout at the first class.

Dream Incubation.

There are techniques for working with the waking mind to get it into harmony with the dream world. We want to be able to ask questions and have our dreams help us with the answers. This is a technique that goes back to Asklepios and the dream temples of ancient Greece. There will be a handout at the first class.

Gestalt

Gestalt is the technique of ''being'' different parts of the dream. We'll explain it in detail at the first meeting. One advantage of gestalt is that it gives you easy and powerful ways to work with the dream on your own.

Dream Series

When you examine a group of dreams you will see patterns that are not clear from any one dream. Even if every dream is different, you will see the dominant issue that you are dreaming about. It is then much easier to work with this issue.

The dream analysis

On your own

First, transcribe your dream. If pencil and paper work for you that is great. If you want me to read the dream (and you do) then you will have to ensure that it is in a readable format (preferably email). Don't censor your work. It's best not to decide which dreams are relevant and which are not. Indeed, if you feel strongly that a particular dream is irrelevant, it almost certainly contains a gem.

In all the work, the core task is to look for the dream-body. There are many ways in which dreams talk about the body. Here are some of them:

  1. The dreamer has a specific dream-body experience: ''I dreamed that my mother tapped me on the left shoulder.''

  2. Another character in the dream makes a specific reference to the body.

  3. The reference can be indirect, it can be to your clothing: ''There was a tear in my shirt by the shoulder''

  4. Something in the dream reminds you of a pose: ''I dreamed that I was holding a metal rod. I knew I was supposed to bend it. There was a terrific tension in the rod and I was worried that I might go too far but also it was a great feeling.'' We'd explore what it was like to be that metal rod.

  5. You have an association from the dream to some body experience in your waking life: ''That was the sweater I wore when I had broke my arm.''

  6. The inner conflicts that are present in your dreams will in some way represent conflicts that are also played out in your body.  There are various ways of working with this that you'll learn throughout the course.

All of these so far are ''rational'' in the sense that we are taking the dream imagery and relating it to the body. Additionally, there can be irrational, intuitive or ''harmonic'' connections so that, you ''know'' that somehow this dream relates to a particular pose or practice.

Great feelings

Whenever you have in the dream a truly superb, ecstatic or wonderful feeling, we want to bring that feeling into your body (it may have been an ethereal experience in the dream) and attempt to recreate the feeling in your yoga practice. I'll demonstrate doing this. Typically, I suggest that for a day or sometimes two days, you experiment with ways to incorporate that feeling into your body during practice.

Spirituality and guides

It is quite common in dreams to meet people who you would never normally encounter, film stars, deceased relatives and so on. Sometimes you are embarrassed at the company your dream ego keeps. Equally, you can meet your own teachers or students. In the dream world these are typically treated as very ordinary, since this happens to your dream ego all the time. Often it's only in retrospect that there was something spiritual there. In that case, we explore ways to bring this spirituality into your practice. We will establish dialogues with these people (gestalt). Remarkably, your dream characters possess their own voices and knowledge and can tell you things you wouldn't have noticed on your own.

What are your dreams telling you?

The core question in all of this is ''What are your dreams telling you about your yoga practice?'' That is the question beyond everything else and you should ''step back'' from the dream and just allow an answer to come into your head. It can be detailed body information, it can also be any general orientation such as ''Take it easy, you are trying too hard.'' For example, ''I dream there's a fence. It is very high and looks difficult but I notice that it is made of very soft plastic mesh and I can easily find toe holds and climb up and over.'' This dream might well be saying to you ''There are obstacles in your practice but do not be discouraged, when you inspect them closely you will find ways to overcome them.'' It is the optimism in the dream that is paramount.

The four meetings

Meeting 1. Introduction. we will be concentrating on getting everyone in sync. Meeting 1 will be focused on dream remembering and dream incubation.  Participants will work out what, if any, major questions or goals they have for the project. We'll be making sure you can utilize the tools in the checklist.

Meeting 2. Review of dream remembering and incubation. Examination of dreams. Some people will begin to see patterns, recurring themes, in their dreams.

Meeting 3. Examination of dreams. Reevaluation of goals (sometimes you adjust your goals as a consequence of your dream analysis)

Meeting 4. Conclusions. Preparing you to work with your own dreams in the future.

 Meeting 1 is mandatory since that's where the core elements of the work are explained. It's understood that not everyone can make each meeting.

The importance of the group meetings

There is a remarkable power to dream groups. Telling your dream to the whole group is optional but highly recommended. The fact that everyone else then has an interest in your dream and can listen with their own ears to your account of the dream, changes matters. It supercharges the situation, so to speak, and allows breakthroughs that are near impossible when you work on your own.

In this method we are looking to other members for alternatives and ideas. We are not trying to reach a consensus. Someone else might resonate with your dream and have a completely unexpected answer that makes sense to you. Equally, they might have a response that makes no sense for you (there are special ways to work in this situation). Typically I go around the group and ask people what that dream would mean for them in their practice. It's also not uncommon that someone else's dream is highly meaningful for you.

Dream Body Checklist

Your dreams make frequent references to your dream-body. Noticing them can take a little experience. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Question

Example

Are there any direct references to your body?

 

''I landed on my feet'' ''The butterfly was resting on my left hand.'' ''I was flying and I could steer with my hands”

Are there references to the clothes you are wearing? What part of the body is implied by that clothing.

 

''I was wearing a long sleeved shirt''

 

Does another character makes a specific reference to the body?

 

''You are all blood and guts”

Do you see a body issue in another character?

 

''She was standing very stiffly, the tension was all in her abdomen.'' ''He was hardly breathing”

Does something in the dream remind you of a pose?

''Everything was upside down''

 

Do you have an association from the dream to some body experience in your waking life?

 

''I last saw him when I was swimming everyday”

Where is the energy in the dream? How does that translate as a body experience?

''I see a snake coiled to strike.'' ''The mouse cowered in the corner.'' ''There was going to be a tsunami.”

 If you have time:

Imagine that you are watching the entire dream from a distance and ask yourself what is the dream telling you?

Replay the dream but imagine it from your body's perspective so that it is not a dream told in language but told by your dream-body about how it moved through the dream.

Replay the dream from the perspective of other characters (and other objects). Take each supportive character and ask what does he or she see when looking at your body. (On your own, avoid unsupportive or destructive dream characters). 

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Course Outline 

Week

Meeting

1

Introductions.
Remembering dreams.
Dream incubation and goal setting.
Examples.

 

2

Review.
Examination of goals and dream incubation.
Working in small groups.
works with one (or more) dreams.

 

3

Review.
Working in small groups.
Introduction to dream themes: How to look at multiple dreams.
works with one (or more) dreams.

 

4

Review.
Dream themes.
Summarizing. Setting new goals.
Working with your dream life on your own: When, How
Conclusion.

 The first two weeks are focused on making sure everyone has the tools to work with. It can take some practice to know how to listen to your dreams. The second two weeks introduce some broader issues and are more focused on getting practical answers from your dreams.

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© Jenkins 2005
Artwork by Leigh Gronet