Technology Creates Community
Since its inception in 2004, North of Eden has been using technology to build a community of dreamers. North of Eden is an organization dedicated to Archetypal Dreamwork that includes the Center for Archetypal Dreamwork, a retreat center in Vermont, North of Eden Press, an online literary and arts journal called deLuge, and a group of trained therapists.
The core of Archetypal Dreamwork, which was founded over 35 years ago by Marc Bregman, is the intimate one-on-one relationship with a therapist, in which the dreamer steps into the profound images and feelings that the dreams present. Over time, this work grew from the intimacy of one-on-one therapy to include group work, as led by Christa Lancaster, and a center of study.
With the publication of The History of Last Night’s Dream, by Rodger Kamenetz, and interviews of Rodger, Marc, and Christa on national shows that include Oprah’s Soul Series and NPR’s On Point,, this work has reached an international audience, drawing people as clients, retreat participants, and students.
To meet this growing need, we have been working to extend this work beyond our physical location in Vermont. The challenge has been how to use technology to bridge the physical gap between teacher and student, dreamer and dream practitioner, especially with work that involves descending into the dream itself, in a visceral way. How could we create a container in which dreamers can experience profound encounters with the images and feelings from their dreams, which are capable of bringing about incredible transformation? Could this be done without the physical presence of the therapist or teacher? Because of the deeply personal and emotional nature of this work, we were unsure at first how people would experience it through technological media.
We are happy to report that this can work. With the advent of Skype, people far from Vermont have face-to-face dreamwork sessions. Once something only people in Vermont were doing, this work is now done by phone and Skype with people all over the country and the world, in places as far-flung as Canada, Israel, Alaska, South Africa, Hungary, Norway, Italy, and Germany.
When the Center for Archetypal Dreamwork was launched in 2009, we knew we needed to extend our courses of study to the people we were in community with both near and far. Videoconferencing has made this not only possible, but successful. On any given day, classes are held in which 4 to 20 people might be participating in classes via videoconference, along with those who are present physically. They draw and share their artwork, they write in community and share their writings, they watch demonstrations of String Therapy, a unique process of group enactment that brings the unconscious to consciousness. They sing, they laugh, and they cry as they share the depths of their personal processes.
North of Eden began as a website (www.northofeden.com), a place for people to share their stories, their deep inner processes, their challenges and triumphs. Today that website is a dynamic place where people can come to learn about upcoming events that may be happening where they live, to read the stories of people who do this work, and to watch videos of String Therapy. The website also offers radio interviews with founders Christa Lancaster and Marc Bregman and songs inspired by the dream journey, as well as books to read and our online journal, which includes artwork, songs, and writings. Most exciting is our Submit a Dream program, in which visitors to the site can submit a dream and receive a response from one of our student therapists, to see if this work touches them.
In bringing technology into our work, we find that it does have its limitations. Teachers need to remember to address online students specifically, ask for their feedback and questions, so they feel a part of the class. Our tech team consists of many nontechnical people who have had a steep learning curve, and need to keep on top of new developments. New videoconferencing platforms require camera upgrades and, for some students, upgrades to their computers’ operating systems. We cannot always solve technical issues, and online participation is still not completely like being there in person. However, people tell us all the time that the ability to be with us in these many ways helps hugely in giving them the sense of community they need to brave the journeys they are so courageously pursuing.
Technology has been a big part of the evolution of bringing Archetypal Dreamwork from an individual, private process, to a worldwide community of seekers who can support each other in the deep work they are doing. People who were once doing this work in isolation now feel this support, which empowers them to bring their private inner growth into their outer lives. In being seen, heard, and validated, and in learning from the work others are doing, this dream community (growing by the day), is becoming a powerful force of change individually and globally.
We can hardly wait to see what’s next.
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