Will You Dream For Me?

A Qualitative Study of the Dream Helper Ceremony

(part 2)

Data Analysis Procedures 

            Interviews with sixteen dream helpers (H) and four seekers (S) were coded with a letter and number combination indicating the type of interview and the order in which the interviews were transcribed.  "H1" is the first "helper" interview converted from tape to document.  The order of transcription is not necessarily the same order recorded, as the taped interviews were mixed in with other portions of the seminar as the interview opportunities occurred.

Interview data was transcribed and consolidated into common response groups to determine themes relevant to the research questions.  Interview responses were assigned to data groups corresponding to the theoretical framework established for the study.  An interview matrix is displayed as Table One, which depicts how each interview question relates to the two research questions.  All of the interview questions shed some light on both research questions, while some are more strongly related to only one.  Individual interview responses may shift the emphasis to one research question or the other, depending upon the answer provided.

Table 1

Strength of Relationship Between Research and Interview Questions

"'dream for others?

Interview response's relationship to Research Question One:

Interview Question

"'gain a personal benefit?" Interview response's relationship to Research Question Two:

Strong

Do you think the seeker was helped by your dream?

Medium

Medium

(Seeker helped by) the other dreams in your group?

Medium

Strong

Were other's dreams related to the seeker's issue?

Medium

 

Weak

Did the seeker's issue relate to things in your life?  

(Did you have a similar personal experience?)

 

Strong

 

Weak

Do you now have a connection with the person you were helping/helped by?

 

Medium

Weak

Is it strengthened as a result of the ceremony?

Weak

Strong

Would you do it (repeat DHC) again?

Strong

Strong

Why would you (not)

 do it again?

Strong

Medium

How do you think the Dream Helper Ceremony works?

Weak

Strong

What do you think we learned about dreams?

Medium

          Qualitative Data Analysis.  Material obtained through interviews was analyzed for impressions and opinions which expressed recurring themes about specific aspects of the Dream Helper Ceremony.  The triangulation technique of obtaining data from multiple sources was employed to ensure arrival at corroborated conclusions (Eisner, 1998, p. 55).  The study plan was to obtain secondary interviews where information was missing or incomplete; however, all interviews were complete with no follow-up necessary.

          Quantitative Data Analysis.  Interviewee responses were tabulated with an interpreted "yes/no" response to common questions.  Responses that were clearly affirmative in nature were tabulated as "yes;" while negative, "not sure," or "lack of knowledge" responses were tabulated as a "no."  The interpreted summary is presented as Table Two.  While the "yes/no" interpretations of respondents' answers do not accurately reflect the rich detail conveyed by the interview responses, it was a useful analysis tool for exposing trends and groupings of similar responses. 

Table 2  

Simplified Interview Responses

 

Interview

 

Seeker Helped?

Dreams Relate

 to Issue?

Issue Relate

To You?

 

Connect?

Would You

Do It Again?

H1

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

H2

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

H3

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

H4

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

H5

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

H6

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

H7

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

H8

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

H9

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

H10

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

H11

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

H12

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

H13

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

H14

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

H15

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

H16

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

S1

Yes

No

*

Yes

Yes

S2

Yes

No

*

Yes

Yes

S3

?

?

*

Yes

Yes

S4

Yes

Yes

*

Yes

Yes

Total Yes

Total No

19

1

17

3

10

6

18

2

20

0

Data Analysis Conclusions

          The ability to dream for each other (research question one) implies that we can intentionally invite a theme or prescribe a purpose to our dreams.  A single act of receiving a dream that another individual subsequently views as enlightening to his specific personal issue is a compelling piece of evidence that we can deliberately dream for each other under certain conditions. 

Information subsets influencing how the first research question is answered include: interview responses presenting views on dream incubation, the usefulness or relevance of the information, and the source of information and dream symbology.  Information subsets to corroborate an affirmative answer for research question two include:  respondents viewing the exercise as beneficial, gaining insight about personal experiences, developing or enhancing a personal relationship, expanding one's appreciation for the value of dream life, or a willingness to invest personal time in a future Dream Helper Ceremony.

          Dreams can be influenced (incubated).  Seventeen of the twenty interviewees viewed at least some of the dreams as related to the seeker's issue.  In one dream sharing group a helper told of dreaming about "teaching two little girls," and your researcher dreamed of a "pending legal battle over a contested will," both of which the seeker declared as "direct hits."  Several helpers reported dreams in which their seeker actually appeared.  One helper put it this way:

"I learned that [dreams] are a lot more powerful than I thought they were.  I didn't realize they could be in that psychic realm.  I knew dreams were in a different realm because they are unconscious when you're sleeping and your subconscious is giving you these images.  But I didn't know they could be that specific and directed.  I didn't know you could really direct them in that way.  That was very neat."

          Communication occurs in dreams.  Dream communication can be concluded to have occurred when the dream theme of a person unaware of the seeker's issue is viewed as strongly relating to the issue at hand.  The conclusion is even stronger when the helper has had no corresponding life experiences from which to draw on the subconscious memory.  Having previously declared my researcher bias, you may take that into consideration as you evaluate my personal dream experience with the "legal battle." 

"I dreamed of having a rich aunt who had recently died while a talented young violinist was a temporary guest in her home.  The violinist subsequently presented two unsigned wills (which differed only in dollar amount) leaving him substantial portions of her estate.  His argument was that the dear lady had simply died before making up her mind how much to leave him.  My aunt had shared her desire to be rid of her 'no longer welcome' guest, and didn't know how to go about it.  I was certain that she had no intention of leaving him an inheritance and I suspected foul play.  I awakened from the dream while considering legal options." 

In my waking life I have no rich aunts, no experience with wills, and know of no guest musicians, welcome or not.  Our seeker's issue was about a divorce litigation that included a house, pension, and visitation with two little step-granddaughters as subjects of disagreement.  He viewed several dreams in our group as clear "hits" relating to his situation, and declared that my 'legal battle' dream, "'might be prophetic."

Dreams can contain helpful information.  The body of interview data offers no clear and compelling reports of messages received in the dreams.  However, several of the helpers reported that the discussions brought out the symbology, which was then translated into helpful information for the seekers.  "Since prayer was one of the main recommendations, a lot of it's going to be up to him and the Creative Forces how this plays out."  The point of the DHC was to help specific individuals, and 19 of the 20 interviewees responded in the affirmative to the "'seeker helped?" question.  Therefore, the unavoidable conclusion must be that the dreams did indeed contain helpful information even in the absence of explicit advice on a specific situation.  Even the dissenting seeker who was tallied as "no" because he wasn't clearly affirmative, had this to say about the process, "I was helped with some ideas, particularly with expressing my creativity and inventiveness--that came up in some of the dreams."

Sharing dreams is beneficial.  The interview data contained a broad spectrum of information that was easily interpreted as beneficial to the participants.  Examples include:  a positive attitude about the process, a willingness to participate in the DHC again, feelings of good will toward others in the group, and a better understanding of a personal situation and the options for dealing with it.  Two helpers stated the value of sharing dream information this way:

"That emotions, or really even simple symbols, things that we call crazy dreams can have a very deep insight'that a shoe isn't really a shoe, it could mean that you are about to travel on, you see footprints.  It's not really what it appears to be.  It has a much deeper meaning if you're able to discuss it."

"'it's neat to see how a group of people can help one person, instead of one on one.  You can get more feedback and information in a group."

Chapter IV.  Findings

Research Question One

"Do DHC participants believe they can dream for another person as revealed by their responses during a semi-structured interview about the seminar?"  Overall responses to several interview questions demonstrate that the interviewees hold a belief that they can dream for another person, or that others can dream for them.  Relevant samples include:

"Because it gives people a chance to really focus on something about themselves, and about the person they're dreaming for."

 

"The first time I did it, I was being dreamed for, and I found it really helpful."

 

"If I were in some kind of dilemma, I would love to have people dream for me too."

 

"Well, I'd like to actually be in the seat of the person being dreamed for."

 

"Right at the end, when 'looking in the mirror' and getting the name of the dream, at that point I realized that element of the dream applied to her, but it [also] absolutely applied to my issue."

 

"I really liked being on the dreaming side of it, but it would be cool to be dreamed for also."

 

"I think dreams are wonderful gifts from God, and I wouldn't mind one day being helped myself like that."

  

Research Question Two

"Did people gain a personal benefit from participation in the exercise as revealed by their views expressed during a post-seminar interview?"  All of the interviewees believed the seeker was helped in at least some way.  All twenty also demonstrated their belief that participation was beneficial by expressing a willingness to undertake the DHC again, many with great enthusiasm, "Absolutely!"  The top three reasons cited for repeating the DHC were "helpful" (60%), desire to be the target person (15%), and the feeling of connectedness (15%).

Here is how two people expressed some of the more subtle benefits of participating in the Dream Helper Ceremony:

"Even if the dreams don't appear relevant, or if sometimes it's a stretch to make them relevant, just the fact that someone else is interested and willing to take the time and energy to invest in the other person's problem is helpful."

 

"[I learned] that they can be helpful for more than one person; that even though you may be dreaming for someone else, there's probably still messages in the dream for yourself, and that even the whole group can gain insight from all the dreams together."

 

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