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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dreams and the Collective Unconscious

Last week, while enjoying a much-needed vacation at the beautiful ranch Waldemar in Hunt, Texas, I attended three dream sessions facilitated by therapist La Jeune Wint. La Jeune explained that each individual’s dream is everyone’s dream, a concept I’d never considered before. I’d always believed dreams were an individual affair––but having read some of C.G. Jung’s work about the collective unconscious, the idea intrigued to me.

Instead of attempting to analyze and interpret one another’s dreams, this group of women (maybe a dozen or so on any given morning) practiced a technique that was new to me. We sat in a circle, eyes closed, warming our hands around steaming cups of coffee in the cool September morn, and opened our minds and hearts. While one woman recounted a dream, we listened and allowed ourselves to glide into her dream, to follow it as if we were dreaming it ourselves.

As each woman shared, her dream unfolded its significance for me, personally. Her closet monsters invoked mine; her conundrums called mine into question; her journey echoed my own quest. Amazing, I thought. Never mind that her dream hadn’t originated in my own psyche. Never mind that I’d never even met most of these women before. We were fellow travelers, connected in some inexplicable way, sharing a common experience in the dreamscape. I may not have reacted to or interpreted the dream’s content in exactly the same way as the woman who’d presented the dream, yet her dream revealed symbols, patterns, and “aha’s” that held meaning for me.

Later, as we discussed our insights and what we’d individually gleaned from someone’s dream, I realized that every dream––regardless of who dreams it––can help me understand my life. Not only my own dreams, but other people’s as well, can ferry me through life’s challenges and offer guidance in my waking world. We’re all interconnected, all part of the cosmic web that Jung called the collective unconscious, the world of archetypes and myth. And we are all here to help one another.

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