Key to a Social Dreaming event is the "matrix", a place where we come together to share and explore our dreams. A matrix can take many shapes, depending on the forum. Simply put, it is a "hosted" experience in which we offer our dreams, associate to dreams, and derive our collective meaning. The associative process of the matrix allows for the open, non-judgmental expression of thoughts, freeing participants to foster free-thinking and social interaction to co-create new meaning.
A "host" provides support to the matrix, guiding our journey in sharing and making sense of our dreams by offering connections between them and hypotheses that illuminate their contributions. The word "host" is used to reinforce the idea that the matrix is not a group to be facilitated or led but an open space for containing and working with dreams.
During Social Dreaming, the mind is freed from ordinary discourse and analytics to enable our joining to make sense. Dreams are born from the individual, become the fuel of the matrix, and provide meaning for all.
How does it work?
In its simplest form, a number of people come together and offer their dreams in the matrix. The invitation, or task, is to associate to the dreams in order to "think new thoughts". The host provides initial guidance and holds the space so that people can access, share and associate to dreams. Participants free associate to each other's dreams and may offer their thoughts about them. A Social Dreaming matrix disrupts the usual ways of thinking and gaining knowledge, like a dream disrupts our consciousness.
Social Dreaming events vary in length and format, and share the following features:
- Takes place in a quiet, undisturbed room for the duration of the event.
- Provides comfortable and moveable seating for all participants and hosts that are arranged in a "snowflake" pattern (an arrangement of chairs that allows participants to share dreams into the matrix without facing any particular person)..
- Has hosts trained and experienced in Social Dreaming.
- Includes a number of participants ranging from 6 to 40 or more; the larger the group, the more hosts required.
- Enough time to allow for the process to unfold, typically 40 to 90 minutes.
- A matrix is always followed by another event that enables the participants to make the transition from the dream and associative space to the thinking or "making sense" space. This is often called a "Dream Reflection Dialogue" (experienced hosts may use other forms of transitional thinking), which typically lasts from 20 to 60 minutes.
What to expect as a participant?
Social Dreaming is often experienced as pleasurable and revealing as participants learn to think divergently, breaking from the more typical goal-orientation of everyday discourse. Participants should expect their initial unease to fade in a process of joining with others to generate new thinking, discover new knowledge and gain a different perspective.
- Teams planning, solving problems, seeking creative insight or wanting to build a shared purpose.
- Conference settings where deeper engagement in the conference's purpose is desired.
- Educators seeking deeper learning.
- As a research tool in higher education.
- Disparate social/political groups wanting to come together to find common ground.
- Organizations wanting to develop a vision of their future.
- Ongoing Social Dreaming groups wanting to make meaning from the collective.
- Any gathering wanting to explore the similarities and connections in its members.