Because your dreams are a direct link to your body, mind, heart and soul, working with them can help you realize your aspirations, guide your direction and accelerate your spiritual growth. Keeping a dream journal is an excellent way to get started on this path of self-discovery. Here’s what you need to know…
1. Recall Your Dreams
I frequently hear the lament, “I never remember my dreams!” from people who repeatedly awaken with a blank slate. If you’re one of these dreamless sleepers, take note: The secret to recalling your dreams is to pay attention to them. Seriously. Think of your dreams as children who blossom when you appreciate how valuable they are.
To jump-start your recall, try immersing yourself in the art of dreaming. Read books on symbol analysis, share your dreams with your mate or a close friend, and be sure to write down anything that you do remember (more on that later). Most important, before you fall asleep, write down your intention to recall your dreams, and speak your intention aloud, several times. After a few nights, your unconscious will get the message and present you with at least a dream fragment. Be patient. Fragments often contain important messages, and they are the first step to recalling an entire dream—in detail.
If your dreams are still elusive, try setting your alarm for three to four hours after you go to bed. You’ll likely be awakened out of a full-fledged dream. It may be an ungodly hour, which is the downside of this technique, but at least you’ll have captured a dream to work with.
2. Your Journaling Tools
To write or to speak, that is the question. The best tools for dream journaling are the notebook or recorder—or both. Although recorders work for some people, for me, verbalizing a dream is too energizing, which makes it harder to fall back to sleep if I happen to awaken the middle of the night. My friend Mike once tape-recorded a dream, only to find that his words were incomprehensible when he played it back—amusing at the time, but not very useful.
Even if you decide to use a recorder, you’ll need to write down your dreams at some point so you can review them later on, which is a great way to track your inner growth. I keep a notebook on my bedside table, with a book-light clipped to it. That way, I can see what I’m writing without waking my husband from the glare of a lamp.
3. Capture the Details
Now, let’s say you awaken with a dream. The trick to remembering the details is to write down the dream immediately. I can’t stress this enough. If you doze off, or leap out of bed to get ready for work, you’ll likely remember just a scrap of the dream when you try to document it later on.
And don’t just describe what happened in the dream itself—be sure to include your feelings about the dream. Feelings often contain the central message. Also, drawing dream characters, perhaps in the margins of the paper, can give you additional insights. You don’t have to be an accomplished artist; just let your creativity flow onto the page, no matter what form it takes. You may be surprised by the intriguing imagery that surfaces from your unconscious. All of these clues will help reveal the messages within your dreams.
Dream journaling is an art that needs to be nurtured. If you’re consistent in documenting your dreams, they will reward you with vivid stories and characters that reveal who you are, where you’re going and how to get there.