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Since COVID-19 swept the globe last year, researchers across disciplines and borders came to a curious conclusion. That this nightmare of a pandemic has been affecting us even while we sleep. In our dreams.
Some experts collected large samples of dreams people had during COVID-19 and discovered an obvious negative side to almost all of them.
Of course, this is because we’re all a bit disturbed right now. The reason for this was recently explained as mourning lost time and freedom.
And while people increasingly reported dreams about sickness, social anxiety, and isolation during the pandemic, the peculiar phenomenon is not all grim.
Indo-Fijian artist, writer and educator Manisha Anjali runs an online platform called Community Dream Practice (CDP) that hosts a COVID-19 Collective Dream Journal; a collection of dreams experienced by the people of the world during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It [CDP] is a research and documentation archive for dreams, visions and hallucinations. The dream journal is an ongoing research and storytelling project, to see what new mythologies arise from our dreams in our time of collective isolation,” Manisha told Indian Link.
Manisha was away at an artist’s residency program when the idea for this special community project first came to her.
“I was living in Naarm (Melbourne) when lockdown began. I had just returned from an artist residency in Mooramong, a 4000-acre estate on Wadawurrung country, where I was sharing my dreams from each day of the residency,” Manisha revealed
“I was already running a platform where I was conducting audio interviews with artists and writers about their dreams, so I thought to open it up to the whole world, as we collectively transition into a new world order,” she added.
Born in Suva, Fiji and a descendant of the Girmityas, Manisha spent her childhood in Aotearoa (New Zealand). A film and literature scholar, she completed her honours from Victoria University. Now Manisha lives on Bundjalung country (NSW) and heads the School of Dreams.
“I have not received any formal training on dreams, mysticism and creative writing. I am self-taught and self-resourced, always on the lookout for teachers, but just learning from this incarnation of life as I move through,” Manisha mused. “They [School of Dreams] are imagination workshops I run, where I guide participants to pull symbols and narratives from their own dreams and integrate into their own practices and lives.”
Dreams, ancient devotional poems by Indian women mystics and saints, animal power, mountains, oceans, Girmitya histories, and the worlds of children, are all key influences that guide her practice.
“In many pre-colonial societies, dreams have played an important part of storytelling, mythmaking and healing. Many of us today have lost access to our own dreams, and thus our own cultural knowledge and means of self and social healing,” Manisha remarked.
“I am interested in documenting dreams that communities are experiencing in this moment in history, to learn what our stories are, and to encourage people to share their dreams more with each other,” she added.
Manisha invited folks she had come to know through creative communities and friendships to participate in the COVID-19 Collective Dream Journal. The news mostly spread through word of mouth and social media during lockdown.
The response was overwhelmingly wonderful.
The following are some excerpts from different people’s dream entries.
I was in India, a return to the imagined India of my dreams.
I dreamt of swimming into the deep ocean. I went through the wrong door and ended up right at the bottom of the sea…
I realised that I didn’t have a helmet so I couldn’t actually ride my bike anyway as I was in Australia and not Europe where helmets are an optional extra.
Frozen jalebi! I jumped out of the bed. Ground still wet washed by Aaji, seated.
As I peer into the icy core, I can see moments of life from all around the world playing out in real time like short films, and whatever I want to see appears into view. The more I focus the more I’m able to see…
Some short, some epic-sized, some poetic, and some blunt. These valuable reflections and ruminations are all in one place online for anyone to access. Do with that information what you will.
And if you like, enter your dream here.
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