September 28-29, 2013 10am-6pm in Berkeley, CA
In this two day workshop, we will explore the dream as a form of somatic play. Winnicott, in Playing and Reality, stated that psychotherapy is about two people playing together.
“It is in playing and only in playing that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self” (ch. 4)
Winnicott found in “playing” the road to the true self, and so it seems quite natural to join his approach to our somatic work with dreams. Playing engages the dream outside of rational evaluation and interpretive skills.
It has been my task as a somatic therapist not only to honor the beauty of language but to train others to think somatically, to experience the extraordinary communicative skills we developed before foxp2, the verbal language gene, awakened in us about 120 thousand years ago. At that earlier time, our capacity to symbolize in fluent, somatic gestures exploded into complex sound groups as verbal language. The body remained symbolically expressive of deep emotions while at the same time, the instrument of concrete thought and unmetabolized sensation on the edge of expression.
The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio has described our evolutionary emergence from a core consciousness to a self, enhanced by verbal language--that is, self-aware and emotionally expressive, an “autobiographical self”, A self that constructs a narrative, with a sense of a past, present and future. All narratives like dreams, myths and rituals are ways our emotions think, so different from rational process.
Dreams are the way the body thinks. Scientists list eight primary emotions we share with all mammals as if they were only sensate: seeking, rage, fear, lust, care, disgust, panic and play. But by their nature, emotions diffuse and refine. Emotions move out in story, dance, music and art; otherwise they pool and stagnate. And if emotions are not merely glorified sensations but carriers of meaning at the service of some intangible higher expression we have for centuries identified as “soul”, then play as a primary emotion is evocative of meaning. When we play out a myth or a personal narrative, when we play out a dream, we stand to discover ourselves in a significant way.
Jung asked himself a critical question that we also might do well to ask ourselves. He asked: “What myth am I living?” He did not ask what myth intrigued him. He asked what myth was living him, what was the myth he embodied. There is a myth that directs our life, that shapes our body unconsciously and determines to some extent our future. Playing out our dreams may break into such determinations.
Play is also considered by Johan Huizinga, in his book Homo Ludens: the Study of the Play Element in Culture. (1938), as defining our nature, a fundamental cultural identification related to our image-making, our imagination, and our dreams. Huizinga says: The most we can say of the function that is operative in the process of image-making or imagination is that it is a poetic function; and we define it best of all by calling it a function of play—the ludic function, in fact….In play as we conceive it the distinction between belief and make-believe breaks down. The concept of play merges quite naturally with that of holiness.” (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992, p. 25)
If our symbolic function is a form of play, then perhaps we should play with our dreams. Dreams express for us the absurd and impossible; as well, dreams may become numinous, magical, awakening as an interplay of the material and spiritual realities. Play itself becomes a ritual and ritual a form of play, what Huizinga described as “holiness” and Winnicott called “transitional phenomena”, our imaginative experience that blends inner and outer reality.
In this workshop, we will discuss the work of Huizinga, Klein, Winnicott, Jung and Reich as background to working with our dreams. We will walk through the dream as a form not unlike theatre, as a way to confront and deepen our emotional presence and our bodily thought. Perhaps the play of our dreams will shine a light on the myth we are living.
John Conger: The Body as Shadow.
John Conger: The Body in Recovery
D. W. Winnicott: Playing and Reality
About John Conger
Dr. Conger is a Psychoanalyst, licensed Psychologist and International Trainer in Bioenergetic Analysis. He has been integrating Bioenergetics with Analytic Psychology since 1982. He is the author of Jung and Reich: The Body as Shadow (1988) and The Body in Recovery: Somatic Psychotherapy and the Self (1994). He was editor of the International Journal of Bioenergetic Analysis (1997-2004). He has taught classes in Freud, Jung, Reich, Somatic Psychotherapy, Jungian Dream Interpretation, and the History of Psychology in local graduate schools for many years including California Institute of Integral Studies and Meridian University.
September 28-29, 2013 10am-6pm in Berkeley, CA
Register before September 1st: $300 regular, $250 students
Register from September 1st to 15th: $350 regular, $300 students
Register after September 15th: $375 regular, $350 students
At the door: $400 regular, $375 students
This workshop is only for people who are not current clients or trainees of John Conger.
Location: Berkeley, CA