Reprinted from the AOL HUB DreamShow Pages
permission by Jeremy Taylor
I have been exploring dreams with an eye to discovering their deeper meanings
for almost 30 years. I have written down and worked with more than 10,000 of my
own dreams and probably 100,000 dreams of others during that time. This work has
convinced me that our dreams always have multiple meanings, and that those
meanings are always helpful and supportive to the dreamer, if only they can be
"unpacked" at any level of depth.
Until I came to THE HUB to host "The Dream Show," all my experience
helping people figure out what their dreams mean was gained by speaking to
individuals and groups in person, on the telephone, or in written
I decided to give on-line dream work a try, even though it means that I have
to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in front of my computer out here in
California at 6:00 A.M. (which up until now has not been my habit).
Initially, I had some reservations about working dreams through this
distinctly "cool" and physically isolating on-line medium. When I
imagined as carefully as I could what it might be like, I was particularly
concerned that the "flat" and highly compressed computer communication
format might inhibit the flow of imagination, intimacy, and mutual respect so
necessary for good dream work.
In fact, I have found the emotionally and physically "flat" format
of computer chat between people in widely separated locations appears to enhance
many important elements that make group exploration of dreams so productive.
The fact that every participant appears on the screen identified only by his
or her screen name means that the sense of safety and anonymity so necessary for
productive dream work is assured. I've also found that the necessity of
compressing our questions and comments into to two-line "sound bites"
in order to send them to the communal screen serves to discourage needless
verbosity. This "compression" of ideas required by the AOL's format
tends to draw us all into the work at a deep level more quickly than is
sometimes the case in face-to-face dream groups.
I am also very impressed with the sense of emotional equality that is created
by the fact that everyone's comments appears on the screen in the same bland
type-face with the same "inflec tion." In face-to-face dream work, the
comments of participants are always weighted to some degree by our responses to
their physical appearance and the timbre of their voices. People have prejudices
about who they want to listen to and take seriously, and who they want to
dismiss. On the screen, all that is gently wiped away. All comments appear
equal, and the participants are much freer to discover insights for themselves
in the various remarks without unconsciously pre-judging the speaker.
I regularly find myself musing more freely and "speaking" more
openly as I sit comfortably in my ergonomic computer chair, sipping my morning
fruit juice, physically much more comfortable and relaxed than I sometimes am
doing face-to-face dream work (sitting in a metal folding chair in a drafty
church basement). I can only imagine that this "relaxation factor" has
a positive effect on all the other participants as well. Presumably, we are all
comfortably ensconced in our own private, safe, comfy computer chairs, free from
the judgment of others, and thus more able to think and intuit creatively and
sensitively about our own imagined versions of the dreams being discussed.
In the virtual dream group, people are free to come and go as their interest
and energy dictates, without distracting or offending other participants. By the
same token, people are much freer to simply watch, listen, and generate their
own "aha's" of insight without participating directly in the work.
Such people are commonly known as "lurkers," and "lurking"
is a perfectly acceptable activity in this context.
In the virtual dream group, the host has even more influence over the process
than in a face -to-face group, since he or she has the power to determine which
comments go to the screen. All the problems of differing levels of
sophistication and seriousness among participants that arise in face-to-face
dream work still exist in cyber-space, but the format allows the host to keep
people from interrupting each other, talking too much, or making gratuitous,
rude, or insensitive remarks. Balanced against this is the problem of the
host/facilitator's unconscious projections and "counter-transference"
issues. The unconscious biases of the host have even more influence over the
group process than in face-to-face dream work, precisely because the host has so
much more influence and control.
In "The Dream Show," the problem of the exaggerated influence of
the host over the content and tone is offset by the fact that there is also a
24-hour bulletin board associated with the program where people can leave their
dreams for others to comment on and can make suggestions and ask questions
without any censorship from the auditorium host. This bulletin board has turned
into a vital and eclectic community forum all on its own.
Albert Einstein was fond of saying that "If you can't explain what you
are doing to a reasonably intelligent ten year old, you probably don't really
know what you are doing." This principle of simplifying and clarifying even
the most abstruse and emerging intuitive understandings of one another's dreams
regularly comes into play in computer connected dream work. Some of the lyric
poetry may be lost in the process, but the "haiku" remain.
Every morning, there is a wide sample of the dreams of people from Canada to
Florida, and across six time zones (counting Hawaii) shared over the computer
connection. It's like taking the pulse of the continent's unconscious.
Computer-assisted "virtual dream groups" will never replace the
richness, vitality, and intimacy of face-to-face dream work, but they are
another way to explore the creative possibilities that are our birth-right as
(c) Jeremy Taylor