This week features part one of a conversation with…
This week I continue my conversation with Dr. Pat Gay on the topic of dreaming, dream symbols and dream “medicine.” Today we explore the concept of “community dreaming” as well as how we can use dreaming to connect to our sense of purpose. If you missed part one go here.
Explain “community dreaming.”
Each dream can be examined on three different levels – nature, community and personal. There are two types of community dreaming – when someone shares a dream with you and when your intention is to uncover the meaning in a dream that applies to a group.
When someone shares their dream with you and you believe that you have an insight to share about it, resist that impulse. Only the dreamer can interpret their dream and the feeling that you have an insight to share means that their dream has something to say to you about issues or questions in your own life. This is how sharing their dream will be a gift for you.
Community dreaming is also when we intentionally look for the medicine a dream carries for our family, clan, social circle, or even our work group.
Why is community so valuable in shamanic traditions?
To be actualized human beings requires community, and Western values undermine your highest impulse toward creating mutually supportive and collaborative systems. In my family’s tradition, which is of Angolan/Ghanaian origin, hierarchy is frequently the inverse of the Western world, and this is also true with dreams – personal meaning of dreams is the least significant, whereas the guidance offered by the dream for community is of greater value.
What type of community are we building when we share our intimate dreams and stories?
The West yearns for community and intimacy, for our hearts and souls to be witnessed by others and known deeply. Community and intimacy are radical and essential for an evolution in consciousness. Creating soulful community is a progressive and generative act against alienation, consumption, and destruction in the individualistic, competitive, and harsh Western world.
What other spheres exist besides the “personal” and “community” in shamanic traditions?
In animistic cultures, nature is the embodiment of God. Therefore interpreting a dream for the guidance offered by the natural world, or in service of it, is most relevant. As the embodiment of God, discerning what nature wants to teach and what it asks of you is critical for a personal and collective evolution in consciousness. This requires you not only attend to the humans that populate your dreams but also the elements of the environment, including the inanimate. Moreover, the presence of sexuality, passion, pregnancy, and nudity in a dream strongly suggests the nature perspective, or “what is natural,” wants attention.
What is the relationship between nature and the individual?
Animistic traditions understand that all of existence possesses a spiritual essence and all is related. An intimate relationship with nature is the antidote to Western feelings of alienation, depletion, living without purpose, even feeling broken and lost. Without a relationship to nature you cannot have clarity about your own sacred nature.
Explain what you mean by “giving the dream back to the natural world”
When you work with the nature dimension of a dream then you will find yourself giving the dream back to the world. The natural world yearns for communion and intimacy with you, and for recognition by you. Embodying dream wisdom will organically lead you into acts of creativity – e.g. creating a ritual to honor the dream wisdom, deepening a meditation practice, being of service to community, creating a piece of art… This is an example of giving the dream back to the natural world.
How can we nourish our relationship with nature when we live in a city, apartment, etc.?
A technique that I enjoy is called “dream incubation.” You would meditate before bedtime to clear and calm your mind. Then ask the question: how can I nourish my relationship with nature, here, in the city? and allow yourself to fall asleep with that. The dream you will “incubate” during the night is the answer to your question.
Meditation is one of several possible practices that promote an intimate relationship with yourself. The natural world teaches us that personal authenticity, including compassion and creativity, is nourishing and nurturing our relationship with our own true nature.
**This concluded the interview with Dr. Pat Gay. Did you like it? I’d love to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comment section below!