Dreaming Up New Structures, Practicing Them In Daylight

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

I find dreams fascinating. I love that people generate wild images in the middle of the night. While I subscribe to the belief that dreams are not given to me by aliens or gods or spirits, much of my dreamwork has been on OWNING the images, symbols, and words that I have created. I suspect that my strange, fraught concern upon waking of “why didn’t I think of that?” is common among many dreamers.  (There’s gotta be a good, long German word that encapsulates that feeling, too, something like “weltanschauung”. )

Cedar facepaint

My daughter, Cedar. Wakeful state, dreamy image.

When I was in my mid-20’s, I engaged in very powerful dreamwork with a Jungian therapist. Amazing, deep, soul-enriching work. I don’t remember much anymore about Jungian archetypes  and their application to dream imagery, but what I have retained is that dreams aren’t “about” anyone else other than the dreamer. The actors within dreams are projections of ourselves onto other imagined beings (both fictional and our images of folks in the real world). This isn’t group dynamics work. It’s a deep dive into your own inner workings.

In my dream world, characters outside of myself often take center stage. Quite literally. Thanks to my formative years spent living, breathing, and making theater, a lot of my dreams take place on the stage.

Why am I sharing this on a blog focused on facilitation and evaluation practice? I want to share a dream of mine that reflects a deep and abiding interest in community building. In it, a new conversational structure is birthed that, in our waking state, was actually adapted by Rita Fierro. She writes about that in her blog.

And so…

Facilitation Dream, 2/13/13

Last night I dreamt I facilitated a theater group. I used improvisation to develop, on the fly, the methods I used. I felt so on top of my game!

It was a storytelling structure in which everyone in the group first silently arranged themselves by age, in a line, shoulder to shoulder. Then, the youngest and the oldest members at each end of the long line were joined together, forming a circle.

Next, the structure used a form of circle practice where the youngest person talked first and relayed as much as they knew, uninterrupted, about how the theater group had formed and grown. When they could go no farther, the story was then passed on to the next person.  The circle continued with each person, ending with the eldest member of the group.


I so love this dream. I’m grateful that I’m on stage instead of putting someone else on it; this way, I don’t have to wake up with my weltanschauung-like feeling of not having generated the cool idea. I like that I’m facilitating a theater group. I had big issues during my college years with the cool, catty, cliquey theater people and their clove cigarettes, and I love that I’m working with them in this dream. I love the silent, meditative, self-arranging of the group prior to the storytelling. It’s a tone-setter.  And, of course, I like the structure I created.

It’s clear to me in my waking state that there are some logistical kinks that probably need working out to manifest this vision in a waking reality, but the kernel, the center of the dream, feels right and true: recounting the history of a group, starting with its newest member (not necessarily its youngest!) and moving on up. It allows the elders to hear how newcomers perceive their group or organization and delays any action to “get the story straight” until the very end, after everyone has had a say.

Dreams can catalyze waking state change. The key is to capture them while they’re still fresh. When I’m on a dream roll, I wake myself up immediately after a dream ends and write down what I experienced. Other times, I wake up naturally and record my impressions. You can also sketch, collage, record a voice memo. Really, anything goes.

Bucket of ink and fresh white paper, ready to be inscribed.

Bucket of ink and fresh white paper, ready to be inscribed.

There’s no rules about how to work with your dreams, including applying them to a real life situation. Rita’s blog describes how she worked with the dreamed-up circle structure with a real group.

One thought on “Dreaming Up New Structures, Practicing Them In Daylight

  1. Dara Cole says:

    Dreamy post. Thanks for sharing.

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