In this lesson, you can look inside an actual dream group.
A Real Live Group Dreamwork Example
For this lesson, let's explore a real example of a live
telephone dream session. We ask dreamers to record their dreams in the
present tense to experience their immediacy. We have written this
account the same way, so you can experience it as if you are there.
After all participants have dialed in and exchanged hellos, Dr. Ron
opens this session with a reading from the book, "Children's Letters
to God." One of the four or five letters he randomly picks is the
following letter from a little girl: "Dear God, I like the Lord's
prayer best of all. Did you have to write it a lot or did you get it
right the first time? I have to write everything I ever write over
The dreamer then reads her dream out loud to the group. It is richly
detailed and two pages long, but we will just summarize the basic plot
The Dream: "Wild Bird Test"
The dreamer is in a university restaurant taking a written test on
wild birds. For this test, the students have been given pictures and
descriptions of wild birds and need to identify them. The exam is an
essay test, and the dreamer begins writing out long answers on a
rough-draft page, preparing to copy them over later.
(Note the synchronicity here between this scenario and the opening
reading in which the child says, "I have to write everything I ever
write over again." This synchronicity has already given us a clue to
a very important theme.)
In the dream, the dreamer is walking around in various areas of the
building trying to find a good place to sit and concentrate on the
test. She cannot find any suitable tables because the light isn't
working, nearby people are too loud, or various other reasons. The
staff are vacuuming as if the place is about to close. Other students
are efficiently finishing up their tests and leaving.
The dreamer eventually finds a doorway to an outside courtyard, but
still cannot find a table. She begins to panic, as she is running out
of time. She sees an old highly creative and self-sufficient female
friend of hers at one table, but does not approach because she needs
to finish the test first.
Once the friend leaves, she approaches the table where the friend was
sitting, and discovers it has changed into a kids' play area. Still
looking unsuccessfully for a table, the dreamer finally begins to
wonder why the test is a detailed essay exam if she can simply write
down the name of each bird. And why she is going to the unnecessary
extra trouble to write rough-draft answers first?
After the dreamer has read us the dream, we all discuss our
associations to the title, "Wild Bird Test": Wild birds are not in a
cage, and they can fly. They are often shamanic guides and power
animals. Wild birds can see details of situations from a much higher
perspective than other animals. They soar effortlessly on air
currents, "going with the flow."
Further discussion reveals that the dreamer has a technical 9-to-5
job at a major corporation. She feels "caged in" by this setting, and
yearns to "go with the flow" of her inner desires and pursue more
spiritual, heart-centered work that truly suits her. The group
concludes that maybe the dreamer is like a wild bird, and is
undergoing a spiritual test: How long can this free spirit stand being"caged in" by this corporate environment before she is finally
motivated enough to fly away?
Next, we examine specific words in the dream's text. The exam in this
dream is an "essay" test. Someone points out that in French, the verb"essayer" means "to try." The dreamer then has an "aha" experience:
She realizes that she has been trying too hard, making too big of a
deal out of simple things.
Another participant points out that the actions in the dream support
the realization above: The dreamer is definitely trying too hard, by
writing out long essay answers that she intends to edit and rewrite,
when only one-word answers are needed.
Next, as we dive into the details of the language in the dream, one
participant notices that hidden in the word "tables" is "ables," and
wonders if this might refer to the dreamer's abilities. In the dream,
she cannot use some of these tables (or "ables") because "the light
isn't working." It sounds to all of us like the dreamer is unable to
use her best abilities at her current job; her true light is un-able
to shine in that patriarchal environment, which does not recognize or
honor her own feminine leadership style.
The fact that the test includes both pictures and descriptions of wild
birds reminds the dreamer of the website that she is currently
creating in her spare time. This work involves creating images and
writing descriptions (using her currently unused writing and artistic
abilities, or "ables") for an endeavor that she would like to make
into a small business, but has been afraid to fully pursue because she
has not until now seen herself as the entrepreneurial type.
As the discussion continues, we discover more insights: Since in the
dream, other students are completing the test and leaving, it seems to
all of us that some parts of the dreamer are ready to leave her old
job, in fact, have already left. One participant notes that since the
restaurant is closing in the dream, perhaps this phase of the
dreamer's life is coming to a close. The dreamer then says she is
beginning to realize that she may be further along in making the
mental shift necessary to change jobs than she had thought.
Next, someone suggests that the self-sufficient female friend in the
dream seems to mirror the dreamer's own unrecognized inner
entrepreneur, and that this dream is reassuring her that she does
indeed have entrepreneurial potential. In the dream, when the dreamer
approaches the table where her friend was sitting earlier, it has
turned into a kids' play area. Dr. Ron suggests that maybe this is
the dream's way of setting a standard for the dreamer: Her ideal work
should be so in line with her true desires that it will seem like
By the end of the dream, the dreamer has made it outside of the
building into the courtyard, but has not yet left the scene. As we
discuss this issue, the dreamer realizes that her intention to take
advantage of her employer's work-from-home program will gain her only
partial freedom, and risks turning her home office into a "courtyard,"
or extension, of the corporation.
Throughout the session, everyone in the group has been making
connections between today's dream and experiences in their own lives.
For example, one participant relates a similar situation from the past
week, in which she took a stand against patriarchal attitudes at her
job in order to honor her own leadership style. She talks about how
this dream validates her own efforts and helps her identify the areas
of her own life where she has felt "caged in."
The dreamer feels very encouraged by this dream. She is grateful and
thanks everyone in the group for their support, insights and comments.
She picks Erica Jong for the closing commentary on the dream. Dr. Ron
randomly selects the poem, "January in New York," which mirrors the
dreamer's yearning to escape to a brighter life while realizing, ever
more clearly, how caged she feels in her current job.
Jong's poem suggests that the dreamer's job is like "sailing through
the world" in a "black ship of night," while "Somewhere there are palm
trees; somewhere the sea" with light that can "dazzle the eyes." The
poem moves past the feeling tone of the dreamer's current caged phase,
and offers a hopeful image of resolution: Snow flurries,"lighthearted, crystalline, white," transform the darkened city.
The poem's final image is strikingly on-target for a dream entitled,"Wild Bird Test." Wild birds fly freely and find peace, as the poem's"pigeons dip & veer & come to rest." It seems to all of us that this
poem is predicting an eventual positive resolution to the dreamer's
We are constantly amazed and delighted by this work. This condensed
account only captures a fraction of all the richness, synchronicity,
and profound themes we discovered during this dream session. Every
session includes community sharing and profound insights. If you'd
like to experience this process yourself, we'd be delighted for you
to come join us.
Click to listen to a live selection from a TeleDream group.
Next Lesson: Recommended Dream Books
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Dr. Ron and Debbie