Conscious Dreaming is a seminal book on dream work by Robert Moss, a self-described “dream teacher, on a path for which there has been no career track in our culture”. Unlike other related books on dream interpretation and guides for lucid dreaming, Moss’s Conscious Dreaming integrates all aspects of dream work into a comprehensive book whose aim is to encourage ordinary people to make conscious dreaming a part of their lives. Topics within Moss’s book include methods of dream recall, lucid dreaming practice, dream interpretation, and how to start a dream discussion group.
Robert Moss’s website describes him as a journalist, novelist, and independent scholar as well as being a “dream teacher”. He had already published analyses of American foreign policy and a handful of successful espionage thrillers before a series of dreams forced him to examine his perspective on life and the importance of dreams within it. Though he relates having survived three near-death experiences in childhood, it seems that dreams and altered states of consciousness only took on significance for Moss during what he describes as a “watershed period” of his life between 1987-88. After becoming a commercially successful New York novelist, Moss decided to move away from his hectic urban surroundings to a rural farm in the Hudson Valley. There he experienced dreams containing dialogue in an unknown language; when he researched it, the language turned out to be an ancient form of Mohawk. Moss got native Mohawk speakers to interpret his dreams and came to believe that he’d gotten in touch with a “woman of power”— an ancient healer who called him to a different life.
Now Moss leads seminars around the globe in active dreaming, including 3-year training for active dreaming teachers and an online dream school. Moss’s active dreaming method combines contemporary dreamwork practices, such as dream journaling, with shamanic methods for exploring dreams and embarking on spirit journeys. He counsels that when we dream, we’re actually waking up to new sources of guidance, healing and creativity not available to the conscious mind. Moss’s book outlines shamanic lucid dreaming practices, which begin with techniques that would be familiar to most lucid dreamers, and then explains how to achieve greater interaction with the dream world (especially in a group) and follow the dream narrative as a lucid observer. Moss counsels against using active dreaming to control your dreams, as he believes you’ll learn and benefit more from dreams if you navigate them without manipulating them. Some core techniques of Moss’s active dreaming are:
Lightning dreamwork – a process designed to facilitate quick group dream-sharing and analysis. Contributors have to preface their comments with “if it were my dream/life”, so as not to impose their interpretation on someone else’s dream. The dreamer is always the final authority on their dream’s meaning.
Dream reentry – cultivating the ability to consciously reenter a dream to clarify its events and dialogue with dream characters, learn more about the dream, and move beyond a nightmare into resolution.
Tracking and group dreaming – before going on a lucid dream journey, two or more partners agree on a dream itinerary they will follow. Shared dreaming is often reinforced by shamanic drumming by non-dreaming members of the group.
Navigating by synchronicity – learning to read coincidences and events with symbolic significance in daily life as “everyday oracles”.
Active dreaming is a discipline that gains its fullest expression when practiced in a dream-sharing group. Moss promotes active dreaming groups as new kinds of communities in which people can come together and share their dreams, as well as embark on group dreaming journeys. Leadership of the group rotates so that everyone has a chance to lead and no one person holds all the power. Active dreaming not only gives us a chance to interact with our dreams in a more satisfying way; according to Moss it also lays the foundation for a new kind of community in which people feel comfortable sharing their dreams with others, playing guide to others, and developing their powers of creative expression. Conscious dreaming is conscious living: it lets you get in touch with your creative side and sense of play so that you can discover and define your greater life story. It’s about realizing that the energies and attitudes we carry “have magnetic effect on the world around us, drawing or repelling encounters and circumstances.” Moss cautions that if you don’t write your life story, someone else will.
Conscious Dreaming combines both mainstream and esoteric ways of approaching the messages of dreams; in this book and others, Robert Moss seriously examines the idea that we connect with the transpersonal in dreams. He suggests that what you encounter in dreams may be a reflection of your psychology or an interaction with the spiritual realm beyond the self. And by exploring this complex realm in group dreaming, he argues that we can create the basis of a new kind of community based on sharing and exploring the intensely personal and yet universal experience of dreaming.