When someone says "Tell me your dream," you rarely begin with the actual
dream. Before delving into the plot, the drama and the details, you usually
start with an introduction. Although seemingly a formality, introductions
actually hold important cues about the dream.
"I've only got a fragment"
"You won't believe this dream"
"This dream happened the night my boyfriend and I had a fight"
"This is a very boring dream"
The introduction might be as short as a sentence. It might be longer than
the entire dream. For example, identifying a particular character in the
dream might become a larger task than describing the dream.
Introductions tell you when or where the dream occurred--"Tuesday night" or
"At my uncle's."
Sometimes they prejudge the dream--"It's not very important."
Occasionally they issue a challenge--"You'll never be able to interpret this
The introduction can be a comparison--"Everyone's had the dream where. . . "
or "No one has ever had a dream like this one."
Quite often, the introduction apologizes for the dream--"All I can remember
is. . . " or "It's only a snippet."
The Importance of Dream Introductions
I realized how important the introduction can be when I was telling my own
dream in one of my groups. Like so many other people I said, without
thinking, "It's only a fragment."
At that moment I knew that I was apologizing for the dream.
I have heard thousands of dreams and I know that, at the start, the dreamer
has little idea what adventure might be in store. But here I was, trying to
forestall any surprises, to put some spin on my own dream.
Underneath, I had two very different worries. Firstly, that everyone would
be bored stiff; that no one would have anything to say about this worthless
dream. Secondly, I hoped that the dream might help me with a particular
waking problem, but I didn't want to feel disappointed if that didn't
Knowing that I had both high and low expectations of this dream work helped
me understand the dream better.
I realized that the introduction to the dream is part of the dream work and
a valuable asset. An introduction can do three things: it orients the
dreamer, it orients the audience, and it shapes expectations.
What to Do with an Introduction
Exactly how the introduction is incorporated into the dream work depends on
the particular situation. Here are some examples.
This dream happened when I was staying at my brother's. I dreamed I was on a
boat in a lake. Suddenly there was a storm and I had no way of getting back
to the shore.
Her brother was not in the dream but he was present in the introduction.
Therefore it's legitimate to bring her brother's perspective into the
dreamwork. The dreamer should imagine the dream as though he had witnessed
her on the boat in these difficulties. It will be immediately obvious to her
whether or not her brother is an ally when she is in trouble.
I can't believe anyone could have this dream. I dreamed that the toilet was
overflowing and there was mess all around. I was disgusted.
The dreamer needs to know that bathroom dreams are quite common.
This is just a snippet. I dreamed that an elephant was eating a mouse.
The dreamer downplays the importance of the dream by referring to it as a
"snippet." Perhaps it is unimportant and perhaps not.
I love this dream. I dreamed that a brand new animal had just come into
existence. Everyone was crowded around, admiring it. The animal was so
pleased to be alive. It loved all the attention.
That's a great dream and the introduction is consistent with the dream.
I already know what this dream means. I dreamed that my mother gave me a
I would take the dreamer at her word and not try to offer any
interpretation. She simply wants to announce something to the world.
The introduction is not part of the dream but it is part of the dream work.
Sometimes, you'll find the introduction contains the key to the entire
Dial-In Dream Groups: Whether you live far away or close by, a phone group allows you to get a
sense of dream work in a very convenient way. With this new work, I hope to
communicate the pleasure and the excitement of dream work to many people.
The Saturday drop-in group ($20) is from 10 am to noon at 2315 Prince Street
in Berkeley. The nearest major cross street is Ashby and Telegraph. Please
let me know if you are coming.
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