Dreaming in the Classroom: Practices, Methods, and Resources in Dream Education

Dreaming in the Classroom: Practices, Methods, and Resources in Dream Education by Kelly BulkeleyPhil King, Bernard Welt and I have written the newly released DREAMING IN THE CLASSROOM: PRACTICES, METHODS, AND RESOURCES IN DREAM EDUCATION, from the State University of New York Press.  It has been a long time coming, and we are grateful to all the teachers we interviewed in the course of our research.

The back-cover endorsement comes from Ernest Hartmann, psychiatrist from Tufts University Medical School, who says, “This book will be extremely useful to educators at all levels.  It can be considered the King James Bible of the field of dream education.”

The cover of the book is a photo taken by Justin Knight of the walking labyrinth in the back courtyard of Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The creation of this labyrinth was inspired by a dream experienced by Laura Lamp, an administrator at HDS.

The first two chapters lay out the basic issues and principles that come into play any time a teacher brings the subject of dreams into the classroom.  We especially emphasize dreaming as a resource in writing and composition classes, connecting dream experience with the development of fundamental academic skills.

Then come chapters on teaching dreams in specific disciplines at the college and graduate level: psychology, anthropology, philosophy and religious studies, general humanities, film studies, and psychotherapy and counseling.  After that is a chapter on dream education in community/alternative settings, and a chapter on dream education with younger students in primary and secondary schools.  We finish with reflections on “the future of dream education.”

It felt good last week to give a copy of the book to my youngest son’s 4th grade teacher, Jeff Grether at Windrush School, whose dream-and-writing assignment is mentioned on p. 182.

Now that I’ve got my own copy in hand, I feel the most valuable part of the book comes in the appendices, which offer an amazing variety of resources for teachers and aspiring teachers:

A. A Dreams Reading List

B. Course Syllabi

C. Establishing and Organizing Community Dream Groups

D. Outline for Short Presentations on Dream

E. Using the Dreambank

F. Preserving Narrative Meanings in Dream Content Analysis

G. Interdisciplinary Dream Course Template

H. Proposing a Course on Dreaming

I. Assessment of Educational Effectiveness in Dream Studies

J. Why I Teach Dreams in Freshman Composition (by Barbara Bishop)



Dreaming in Christianity and Islam

Dreaming in Christianity and Islam by Kelly BulkeleyAt a time when Christianity and Islam appear to be mortal enemies locked in an increasingly bloody “clash of civilizations,” new insights are needed to promote better mutual understanding of the two traditions’ shared values.  Dreaming in Christianity and Islam: Culture, Conflict, and Creativity (edited by Kelly Bulkeley, Kate Adams, and Patricia M. Davis (Rutgers University Press, 2009) provides exactly that.  This new book is a collection of articles by international scholars who illuminate the influential role of dreaming in both Christianity and Islam, from the very origins of those traditions up to the present-day practices of contemporary believers.

Dreams have been a powerful source of revelation, guidance, and healing for generations of Christians and Muslims.  Dreams have also been an accurate gauge of the most challenging conflicts facing each tradition.  Dreaming in Christianity and Islam is the first book to tell the story of dreaming in these two major world religions, documenting the wide-ranging impact of dreams on their sacred texts, mystical experiences, therapeutic practices, and doctrinal controversies.

The book presents a wealth of evidence to advance a simple but, in the contemporary historical moment, radical argument:  Christians and Muslims share a common psychospiritual grounding in the dreaming imagination.  While careful, sustained attention will be given to the significant differences between the two traditions, the overall emphasis of the book is on the shared religious, psychological, and social qualities of their dream experiences.

Throughout their respective histories Christians and Muslims have turned to dreams for creative responses to their most urgent crises and concerns.  In this book the contributors apply that same imaginative resource to the current conflict between the two traditions, seeking in the depths of dreaming new creative responses to the global crisis of religious misunderstanding and fearful hostility.  Included in the book are chapters on dreams in the Bible and Qur’an; on the early history of Christian and Muslim beliefs about dreaming; on religious practices of dream interpretation; on the dreams of children, women, college students, and prison inmates; and on the use of dreams in healing, caregiving, and creative adaptation to waking problems.

The Wondering Brain: Thinking About Religion With and Beyond Cognitive Neuroscience

The Wondering Brain: Thinking About Religion With and Beyond Cognitive Neuroscience by Kelly BulkeleyThe Wondering Brain: Thinking About Religion With and Beyond Cognitive Neuroscience

By Kelly Bulkeley

Routledge, 2004

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This book offers a new integration of religious thought and cognitive neuroscience. By focusing on experiences of wonder—startling encounters with the true, real, and/or beautiful—the author shows that human religiosity (and indeed all creative experience) depends on unexpected moments of radical decentering in which ordinary brain-mind systems are profoundly transformed, generating what science calls new consciousness and what religions call divine revelation.

The Wondering Brain explores four different spheres of wonder: dreams, sexual desire, art, and contemplative practice. Each chapter begins with a narrative of an individual life in which one of these spheres of wonder appears in especially vibrant form. The details of that narrative are then discussed in relation to the revolutionary findings of cognitive neuroscience (CN), which shed new light on the physiological roots of wonder in the human brain. CN can only take us so far, however, and this is where the resources of religious studies (RS) are brought into play, to provide historical and cultural context, to question the metaphysical assumptions of CN, and to clarify the inspiring, life-changing impact of experiences of wonder. Each chapter ends by returning to the original narrative with a richer appreciation for the dynamic interplay of brain-mind functioning and the religious imagination. Guided by the pioneering 20th century investigations of Freud, Jung, and James but pushing far beyond them, The Wondering Brain provides a new foundation for the study of religion and psychology in the 21st century. The book also issues a provocative challenge to scholars and general readers alike to think more deeply about the most dangerous of all spheres of wonder—the violent wonder of war.

Blurbs and Reviews

“A genuinely revelatory read in both the religious and intellectual senses of that term. The reductionist can only come away with a deeper appreciation for the innate or “hard-wired” religiosity of the human brain, and the religionist can only stand in awe before how much we really do know about the brain and its predictable workings. The wisest read, though, is perhaps the one that insists on balancing both of these polarized perspectives within a deep and playful sense of human wonder. Personally speaking, I have not stopped thinking and talking about this text since I set it down, and that was five months ago.”

— Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, Rice University

“Kelly Bulkeley’s latest book, “The Wondering Brain” empowers both the scientific and the religious points of view. In his warm and humorous style the reader is informed of recent developments in brain science and religious thinking. I highly recommend this unique book to anyone interested in opening him or herself up to the wonders of the brain.”

— David Kahn, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Table of Contents


1. Dreams and Visions

2. Sexual Desire

3. Creative Madness

4. Contemplative Practice

Conclusion: The Evolution of Wonder


Soul, Psyche, Brain: New Directions in the Study of Religion and Brain-Mind Science

Soul, Psyche, Brain: New Directions in the Study of Religion and Brain-Mind Science by Kelly BulkeleySoul, Psyche, Brain: New Directions in the Study of Religion and Brain-Mind Science
by Kelly Bulkeley (editor)
Palgrave Macmillan, 2005
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Soul, Psyche, Brain is a collection of essays that address the relationships between neuroscience, religion and human nature. The book highlights some startling new developments in neuroscience that have many people rethinking spirituality, the mind-body connection, and cognition in general. Soul, Psyche, Brain explores questions like: What are the neurological effects of meditation and prayer? How does the mind develop psychological and spiritual self-awareness? And what are the practical implications of brain-mind science for religious faith and moral reasoning?

Blurbs and Reviews

“Bulkeley provides a unique and valuable resource reporting from the cutting edges of the encounter between neuroscience and religion. Fields as diverse as emotion and dream studies, complexity theory, spiritual development, Christian and non-Christian theology—and more—contribute to the ferment. Those working in any or all of these areas will find here resources to stretch their mind.”
Carol Rausch Albright, co-author of The Humanizing Brain: Where Religion and Neuroscience Meet

“Soul, Psyche, Brain has successfully re-set the starting point for any serious interdisciplinary conversation on the topic of religion. By doing so, this book at once updates all parties, levels the intellectual playing field, and lays open new possibilities for collaborative research—both reflective and empirical—on the topic of religion across a broad range of disciplines.”
Nina P. Azari, Department of Psychology, University of Hawaii at Hilo

Table of Contents


1. Genes, Brains, Minds: The Human Complex
Holmes Rolston III

2. Brain, Mind, and Spirit—A Clinician’s Perspective, or, Why I Am Not Afraid of Dualism
James W. Jones

3. Psychoneurological Dimensions of Anomalous Experience in Relation to Religious Belief and Spiritual Practice
Stanley Krippner

4. Sacred Emotions
Robert Emmons

5. Where Neurocognition Meets the Master: Attention and Metacognition in Zazen
Tracey Kahan and Patti Simone

6. From Chaos to Self-Organization: The Brain, Dreaming, and Religious Experience
David Kahn

7. Converting: Toward a Cognitive Theory of Religious Change
Patricia Davis and Lewis Rambo

8. Cognitive Science and Christian Theology
Charlene Burns

9. Overcoming an Impoverished Ontology: Candrakirti on Buddhism and the Mind-Brain Problem
Richard K. Payne

10.Religion and Brain-Mind Science: Dreaming the Future
Kelly Bulkeley

11.Religion out of Mind: The Ideology of Cognitive Science and Religion
Jeremy Carrette

12.Brain Science on Ethics: The Neurobiology of Making Choices
Walter J. Freeman

Spiritual Dreaming: A Cross-Cultural and Historical Journey.

Spiritual Dreaming: A Cross-Cultural and Historical Journey. by Kelly BulkeleySpiritual Dreaming: A Cross-Cultural and Historical Journey.
By Kelly Bulkeley, Ph.D.
Paulist Press 1995
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Read Chapter 2: Snakes

Blurbs and Reviews

“Kelly Bulkeley’s book is a valuable addition to the growing shelf of dream writings. Using dream reports from traditions as diverse as the religions of Asia, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and many native traditions, Bulkeley presents dreams whose common theme is the experience of the sacred… This is a scholarly but very readable book, including exhaustive notes and a complete transcultural and transtemporal bibliography of dreams.”
—Betsy Caprio, Praying

Table of Contents

1. The Dead
2. Snakes
3. Gods
4. Nightmares
5. Sexuality
6. Flying
7. Lucidity
8. Creativity
9. Healing
Appendix 1. Hermeneutics: The Interpretation of
Spiritual Dreams
Appendix 2. Dreams and Conceptions of the Soul,
Reality, and Reason
Appendix 3. Methodological Issues

Dreamcatching : Every Parent’s Guide to Exploring and Understanding Children’s Dreams and Nightmares.

Dreamcatching : Every Parent's Guide to Exploring and Understanding Children's Dreams and Nightmares. by Kelly BulkeleyDreamcatching : Every Parent’s Guide to Exploring and Understanding Children’s Dreams and Nightmares.
Alan Siegel, Kelly Bulkeley
Three Rivers Press 1998
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Dreams are a regular part of every child’s life and a powerful resource for every parent. Dreamcatching is the first comprehensive dreamwork book covering children’s first reported dreams around age two into adolescence. This practical guide to children’s dreams shows parents how to learn the hopes and fears that their children may not be able to articulate and to nurture their children’s creative, problem-solving, intellectual, and spiritual natures. Siegel and Bulkeley give guidance on how to encourage children to remember and share their dreams, and the book includes a “Dreamcatcher’s Workbook” which is filled with projects using drawing and painting, playacting, and other playful ways to bring to life the meanings of the dream.

Blurbs and Reviews

“Dreamcatching offers a wealth of scientifically backed information about the dream life of young people, and offers adults the opportunity to join with boys and girls in a voyage of social, psychological, and spiritual exploration.”
—Stanley Krippner, coauthor of The Mythic Path, editor of Dreamtime and Dreamwork

“Dreamcatching makes dealing with your children’s dreams the most thought-provoking game you’ve ever played…. The siple instructions geared to all stages of childhood dreaming propel you deeply into the imagination of the people you love most. This book is a joy.”

—Robert Bosnak, author of A Little Course in Dreams and Tracks in the Wilderness of Dreaming

“Few things are more vital in reclaiming the soul of our culture than to get families to share dreams and harvest their gifts of story, mutual understanding, and healing. Alan Siegel and Kelly Bulkeley have written a lucid, practical, and caring guide.”

—Robert Moss, author of Conscious Dreaming

Table of Contents


1. The Family That Dreams Together

2. The Playful Creativity of Children’s Dreams

3. A Child’s Garden of Common Dream Themes

4. Nightmare Remedies: Helping Your Child Tame the Demons of the Night

5. Dreams of Growing Up: From Infancy through Adolescence

6. Dreams and the Changing Family: Divorce, Adoption, Blended Families, and new Siblings

7. First Aid for Crisis Dreams: Dream Patterns in Response to Crisis, Injury, Disability, Abuse, and Grief

8. Visions of Transcendence: Dreams and the Spiritual Life of Children

9. Social Influences on Children’s Dreams: Television, Sex-Role Stereotypes, and the State of the World

10. Your Dreams About Parenting

11. The Dream Catcher’s Workbook

Appendix A. Every Teacher’s Guide to Creative Dream Work for the Classroom

Appendix B. Annotated Bibliography of Children’s Books Related to Dreams