One of my favorite dream quotes is from The Dream and the Underworld by James Hillman:
“We sense that dreams mean well for us, back us up and urge us on, understand us more deeply than we understand ourselves, expand our sensuousness and spirit, continually make up new things to give us—and this feeling of being loved by the images permeates the analytical relationship. Let us call it imaginal love, a love based wholly on relationship with images and through images, a love showing in the imaginative response of the partners to the imagination in the dreams. Is this Platonic love? It is like the love of an old man, the usual personal content of love voided by coming death, yet still intense, playful, and tenderly, carefully close”
Because of this “imaginal love,” working with dreams is very intimate. Actually, one of the things that the dreamtime endeavors to teach us is how to create intimacy, how to become “radically” receptive to the intimacy that working with dreams offers. So we learn to trust dreams, to develop a kind of faith in them, and at the same time develop a faith in ourselves and in each other.
Because dreamers quickly discover the kind of intimacy available to them—the “shared imagination” of the dreamtime—when they are working either privately or in a group setting, they often want to share this intimacy with others, with their closest loved ones. Thus, one question I am asked all the time is: “Do you do this work with couples?”
In an effort to answer this question in the positive, I’m pleased to announce that I am now making Dream Tending available to couples.
“Couples” here refers to all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The dreamtime is not distracted by these surface details, and, as we take our cues from the dreamtime, we will not let ourselves become distracted by them either. All couples are therefore welcome to do this work. The only prerequisite is desire.
On the subject of desire: partners are not required to have equal amounts of desire in order to do this work (and anyway, how could they?) So any amount of desire and curiosity will do. That said, if one of the partners in a couple is, shall we say, “underwhelmed” by the idea of Dream Tending, this same couple is encouraged to consider working privately rather than in a group setting.
I mention this because a lot of the folks I work with currently with are very, very keen to have their partners share in the Dream Tending experience. And, while that’s great, I also want to caution dreamers that it makes no sense whatsoever—from the dream’s perspective—to compel or coerce someone who is reluctant to participate in this work, and especially not in a dream group setting.
Private work, on the other hand, makes more sense for couples that are trying to create, re-‐create, kindle, or re-‐kindle the kinds of discoveries and intimacies that are possible between partners in a committed relationship when one of the partners is somewhat reluctant, or lukewarm, to the idea of working with dreams. The idea is to ease our partners in slowly, gently, lovingly, with kindness and compassion and respect for where they are, not where we want or expect or demand that they be.
That said, there are many, many advantages to being in a couples dream group. In the safe and contained communities that Dream Tenders create, couples are free to explore what it means to be in a committed relationship alongside other couples. Dreams, then, help couples to see things as they are—which is always easier to see in someone else’s dreams than in our own. But couples are deeply encouraged by what’s possible between other couples. So, for example, when one couple in a dream group discovers the kind of intimacy that is possible through dream work, everyone in the group discovers this at the exact same time. This is because “like cures like” and “image loves image.” So all couples benefit when one of the couples begins to flourish.
Some people may discover that their partners are reluctant to participate in dream groups. However, I am committed to couples dream groups for the same reason that I am committed to dream groups—because what’s possible between the dream and the dreamer is increased exponentially by the number of individuals or couples comprising the group. And that is magic!
Couples working privately are encouraged to dedicate themselves, at least in the beginning, to establishing a consistent rhythm of meeting with me once a week or once every two weeks. Whether over the phone or in person, private sessions for couples are 11⁄2 hours long (due to the density of dream material).
All private Dream Tending sessions for couples are offered on a sliding scale. The only requirement, therefore, is that couples be honest regarding what they can reasonably afford.
One of the goals of Dream Tending is to orient dreamers to the power of soul within themselves. There is incredible power in working with dreams this way. It has never been my intention, however, to use this powerful way of working with dreams over others, or as a way of inviting dreamers to become dependent on me, or on my “expertise.” In a relatively short amount of time, therefore, couples working privately will learn how to navigate in the dreamtime without any help from me.
The whole point of working this way is to make the art and practice of dream-‐centered living available to couples so that they might practice it with each other, and for each other, and for the sake of the dream that is uniquely possible between them, as they unfold together with the dream out into the world. I am reminded here of that marvelous poem by Robert Bly entitled “The Third Body.”
A man and a woman sit near each other, and they do not long at this moment to be older, or younger, nor born
in any other nation, or time, or place.
They are content to be where they are, talking or not talking. Their breaths together feed someone whom we do not know. The man sees the way his fingers move;
he sees her hands close around a book she hands to him. They obey a third body they have in common.
They have made a promise to love that body.
Age may come, parting may come, death will come.
A man and woman sit near each other;
as they breathe they feed someone we do not know, someone we know of, whom we have never seen.
So what we’re doing when we are working this way with dreams is tending to the “third body” between couples and their dreams, so that the dreamtime becomes a kind of “date night.”
Couples are also invited to participate in a couples group. Couples groups meet once a month for 3 hours. The same requirements for Dream Tending in an ongoing group setting apply to couples groups. To re-‐cap those requirements:
- Honesty. This approach often brings dreamers into relationships and patterns of being that, while not always easy to bear, are invariably trying to love us forward into who we are becoming.
- Courage. From the Latin word coeur, meaning, “heart.” We develop the “heart” to not turn away from our depths.
- Faith. We learn to take it on faith that psyche is not out to get us, even if it sometimes feels that way.
- Curiosity. Nothing helps more than a keen curiosity for working with dreams.
- Radical receptivity and radical containment. By strengthening our capacities of soul and the imaginative responses of the dreamers, couples learn to tend and be tended by dreams and by each other.
- Commitment. Because of the communal nature of this sort of in-‐depth approach to working with dreams, couples are asked to make a commitment of no less than 6 months.
- Confidentiality. The Vegas Rule: What happens with the other couples in the couples group stays there—an absolute must if we are to provide a safe and contained place to do and say the unsafe things that need to be said and done.Dream Tending endeavors to make itself available to everyone. Therefore the cost for joining a couples dream group is $70/month, payable monthly for a total of $420 per couple for 6 months. If a couple decides to pay in advance, however, they will receive a 10% discount, making the total cost for 6 months, $378.For more information on working privately as a couple, or if you are interested in joining a couples group, please . . .