Friday, April 21, 2017

Active Dreaming to rescue soul and community in scary times

I received this message from a friend:

"Robert; I am experiencing soul loss after the last presidential election...are you? I am working on it."

I responded:

Our everyday practice of Active Dreaming has become absolutely essential. I do the dreamer's equivalent of "chop wood, carry water" every day, and I recommend this for all dreamers. Write in your journal, the secret book of your soul. 
    Find someone with whom to share dreams and life stories by our
 Lightning Dreamwork process. Seek or create a circle of active dreamers, raising vital energy and helping each other to remember and act upon the secret wishes of the soul.
    Dream with the Speaking Land, conscious that you walk everywhere in a forest of living symbols. Hug a tree, renew your connection with the elemental powers.
    Remember that your dreams and the play of synchronicity give you sources and resources beyond the obvious. Keep your direct line to the sacred and the God/Goddess you can talk to open.
    Find a way, every day, to entertain your spirits and make a playground rather than a prison in this world. Never forget that in any situation you have the freedom to choose your attitude, and that this can change everything. Choose the day.

My book Active Dreaming contains much guidance on dreaming with and for communities. It explains how to create and maintain an Active Dreaming circle, and how Lightning Dreamwork, as group practice, is a model for enlightened community leadership, as each participant takes turns to play the role of speaker and guide.
    Community, as Peter Block defines it in a provocative  book, is about the experience of belonging. To belong is to feel at home, to know you are among family or friends. When something belongs to you, you are an owner; you have a stake in something. Playing with the word, Block notes that belonging evokes longing to be - to come fully alive, to embody fully a deeper purpose in life.
     The model leader in this kind of community  is one who can bring the right people together in the right way, name the right questions for group exploration ("what can we create together?") and listen as others find their voice and their power. Such things are best done in small groups, which Block promotes as the best agents of transformation.
     Groups that share dreams the right way are now at the vanguard in developing the kind of social space that Block advocates. Dream groups are typically small (six to twelve people) and establish a different kind of space, and a deep sense of belonging to an intentional community. They are circles in which each member receives the gift of deep listening, the chance to play leader or teacher, and the opportunity to tell their life stories and re-vision those stories.
     In Active Dreaming circles, we recognize the need for strong leadership to provide the structure and dynamic within which extraordinary group experiences can be shared. This includes selecting and defining a safe and protected physical space. It means gently insisting on time limits (dreamers can get things done on time), building and maintaining circle energy and keeping everything moving for the two or three hours of a typical session, and making sure that everyone feels at home and that everyone's voice is heard.
    Part of the leader's job in an Active Dreaming circle is to ensure that a lively alternation of discussion, movement and conscious group dream travel keeps everyone alert and engaged.     
    Above all, the leader will enforce simple rules that ensure that no one present - least of all the leader herself - will try to claim authority over anyone else's dreams or life story. We are only permitted to comment on each other's material by saying "if it were my dream" or "if it were my life." In this way, we offer associations and suggestions while encouraging the dreamer to claim the power of her own dreams - and to take the necessary action to embody their energy and guidance in the world. Finally, the leader of an Active Dreaming will give her power away repeatedly by inviting others to take charge in leading the processes.
      In these ways, we fulfill Block's definition of the mode of leadership required to restore and re-story our communities: "Perhaps the real task of leadership is to confront people with their freedom."

Quotes from Peter Block are from his book, Community: The Structure of Belonging (San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers)

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