I once took a workshop with dream researcher and psychiatrist, Monty Ullman. In the group, led by Monty, we shared and interpreted each other’s dreams. I learned some very interesting things from this workshop. For example, after listening to others interpret my dreams in ways that made sense and that I missed, I realized the fertility of dream symbolism. In other words, my own interpretation was limited; working with a group opened me to new ways of probing the possible meaning of my dream. The group dynamic can prevent us from being blindsided by our own limitations.
A second point I gained from this dream group was even more interesting. It didn’t take long to see from our dreams that the contents of our minds were spilling over into each other. Telepathy and synchronicities were popping up; it was clear that we were not separate or sealed up inside our minds. Our minds are more open and porous than we suspect. Moreover, this “connectedness” may be tapped into for possible benefits.
That brings me to dream researcher Henry Reed’s Let’s Normalize the Paranormal: A Revolution in Dreamwork (see Venture Inward, Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment). It consists of ten lively essays, neat visuals, and some big ideas. The essays aim to “normalize” the paranormal by learning to explore our dreams together. The paranormal remains an outsider in our scientific culture, which privileges the physical over the mental side of reality. But this is a serious blunder, and for many reasons.
For example, my knowledge of the physical world depends completely on my mental life. And this is true for anything that we experience, waking or dreaming. It is impossible to get out of or beyond our experience, and all experience is mental. Whether I’m observing and measuring a physical object, remembering what I had for dinner last night, imagining the chores I have to do around the house, or dreaming of my dead grandmother—no matter, all experience is mental.
The problem is: How do we liberate psychic phenomena from the ghetto? From the little box that materialism has placed them in? Reed’s idea of doing it by deep collaboration with our dream life is arresting. We do spend a significant portion of our lives dreaming, even though we forget most of our dreams. Dream space is part of our mental space but we underrate its importance.
For one thing, the dream is a common vehicle for psi phenomena. In other words, the most likely context for having a psychic experience is a dream. Dreams are also where we are likely to encounter archetypes and visions. The dream, in short, is the gateway to the hidden mysteries of our mental life. Keeping dream journals and forming dream circles is perhaps the most powerful thing we can do to stimulate our psychic and spiritual faculties.
But that is just the first step to Reed’s revolution in “dream work.” There is also the idea of Dream Helper Circles. Here the dreamwork becomes social and is designed to serve the common good. By turning our attention toward dreams and the psychic effects they can produce and by forming dream groups that activate our psychic ‘helpers’, it would help normalize and activate the paranormal.
For dreams are the royal road to psychic expansion, but they are also the secret to greater agency and group power. To get a proper hearing, parapsychology must prove its usefulness and its humanity. One way is to lay our smartphones aside for a while and instead start some Dream Helper Circles. We need to take time out to learn the power of dreaming together.