Why should you keep a dream journal? The reason is simple. For many of us interpreting meaning or decoding messaging from our dreams remains a complete mystery. The vast majority of people either don’t remember their dreams or find that the fragments they do recall make little sense and are confusing.
Sleep And Dreaming.
We are all aware of the importance of restful sleep and the many benefits for our mind and body. It gives us a chance to recharge both physically and mentally.
Sleep provides us a retreat. It allows us to take a break from the stresses of the world and enables our mind to wander and imagine.
Throughout the centuries every civilisation has been fascinated with the dreaming state. Many developed detailed theories and had guidance for how to interpret meaning.
More recently we have seen a great deal of interest stemming from the scientific community with a number of research projects being carried out.
The results of these scientific studies are fascinating and would support that dreaming can make us smarter, spark creativity, help memory recall, and make us more curious.
The downside is that to gain these benefits we need to be aware of what happens in our dreams. Most of us forget our dreams before we have a chance to truly explore them.
Dream journalling can help us document our nighttime experiences and potentially help us dream more often.
Why Keep A Dream Journal?
We may dream about great golden palaces, flying above the clouds or exotic distant lands. Perhaps our dreams are of shark infested waters or the mother-in-law (perhaps thats the same thing!)
Whatever they contain it is important to remember that our dreams are a way for our subconscious to be constantly communicating with us. They are integral to better understanding our waking life, our emotions, stresses, victories and our overall mental well-being.
Dreams are the voice of our unconscious mind. They are packed with meaning and important messages. We can only understand the meanings and decode the messages if we pay attention!
There are a great deal of theories that attempt to explain the purpose of dreaming. The one consistent aspect of all theories, that all experts agree upon, is that to keep a dream journal is an important first step for gaining understanding.
By keeping a daily journal we gain valuable information about our innermost thoughts and insight into what is truly important to us.
It is also an easy and simple method that helps us identify any recurring patterns. We begin to recognise trends such as similar concepts, images or symbols that may show up in our dreams.
The saying “Practice makes perfect” is usually applied to daily life, such as learning something new at school or when developing the skills needed for a new job or hobby. We know that the more we do something the better we will get at it.
The same applies to our dreams. The more we practice the better we will get. The more focus we place on remembering details the more detail we will remember.
It is this detail that will help us to interpret any meaning and point us toward the aspects in our life that require further attention.
7 Simple Steps To Keep A Dream Journal.
Step 1 – Remembering The Day.
Before you retire for sleep spend a few minutes reminding yourself of what occurred in your day.
Make some simple notes about the keys aspects that you remember. Who are the people that you saw and spoke too? What did you do and where where you?
Try to recall any moments that caused your emotions to spike. It is important to note both positive and negative.
Step 2 – Setting Intent.
Setting of intent is where you programme your subconscious to remember your dreams.
This is especially important if you are someone who finds it difficult to remember dreaming.
This step enforces our desired intention. It helps us convince our subconscious that we do want to recall and remember them.
In your journal write your intention and then spend a few moments reading it . Ensure your intent is stated as fact.
An example is: “I will dream tonight. When I wake I will remember my dreams. I will remember all detail to record in my journal.”
Once this is done place your journal beside your bed. You will want it close for when you wake.
Step 3 – Waking Recall.
At the moment you wake up stay perfectly still, don’t even open your eyes, and spend time on your waking recall. This may take a little practice!
Ask yourself “What was the last thing in my mind?” Give a moment and if nothing comes, keep gently requesting. “What was the last thing happening in my mind?”
When you remember something, regardless of how significant you may think it is, focus on it. Now start to work in reverse. Give yourself some prompts such, “And what was happening before that?”
When you remember the next detail ask the same question. “What was happening before that?”
Keep doing this until you have remembered as much of the detail as possible. When you believe you have all the recall available go over the remembered details in your head one more time to see if anything further arises.
Step 4 – Recording In Your Dream Journal.
Now get your journal and start noting down this recall. I suggest doing this as memorable words rather than sentences.
Even if believe you have remembered each event from your dream recall it is very easy to forget. Once our conscious mind starts requiring us to focus our thinking on detail we can lose the rest of our remembered dream.
By using words rather than sentences we are more likely to retain everything recalled.
Note down the key pictures as words such as “house”, “Eric”, “Flying”, “Painting”, “Anger”.
Step 5 – Expand Upon The Words
Now that we have our sequence and our key words we can begin recording the dream in more detail. We can spend time exploring and expanding upon each of the words in the sequence.
We are less likely to forget other aspects of our dream because of the words we developed in Step 4. They trigger our subconscious recall. What we have done is enable a mental hook so that our mind can easily return to the memory through word association.
When we begin recording the dream it is best if we use first person present tense. This ensures we gather the information that is important to us. For example write the detail as: “I am… (what are you doing)”, “I see…”, “I feel…” etc.
We also need to ensure we note the setting of the dream, the people involved, our actions, others actions and any emotions we experience in the dream.
What is also important is to note how we felt when we woke up. If we were happy, tired, sad, fearful etc.
Give the journal entry a title and date.
Step 6 – Keep A Dream Journal To Find Day Residue.
Spend some time focusing on what occurred the day before and read the notes we recorded the night before.
Do we see any themes emerging? Do the emotions or actions in our dream relate to events that have recently occurred in our waking life?
This is known as “Day Residue”. It is the dreaming of someone we know, or something we saw or actions we took. Recognising day residue is important because our subconscious mind is linking events, people or actions to stored memories.
We need to focus on this residue and ask what is the reason for that event, that person, or that object appearing in our dreams at this point of time?
Step 7 – Non Related Links
Once we have linked aspects of our dream to day residue we need to focus on those words, thoughts and feelings that remain.
We need to list the emotions, thoughts, people, events that occur in our dream that cannot easily be linked to aspects of our daily life.
Over time patterns, trends and pictures will appear. It may be that our dreams are sending us messaging and reminding us of what is important in life.
Our subconscious may be urging us to end associations that are unhealthy, or to follow a new path. Messages and meanings may be as simple as beginning a new hobby, or finding new interests.
Likewise we may be receiving messaging that is crucial for our future happiness and well being.
When we record our dreams every night we start to see patterns and recurring themes. These may be emotions, or people, or taking part in specific activities.
Whether day residue or non related, if patterns emerge we can be sure they are pointing too aspects of our life that need our attention.
Handy Templates To Record Your Dreams
For ambitious dreamers, use the templates to acknowledge your fears and set intentional goals for your nightly slumber.
If you’re a vivid dreamer, you’ve probably encountered some magical experiences that have you asking a lot of questions.
While there are many different interpretations of dreams, one thing for certain is that dreams reflect memories and experiences of our everyday lives.
If we accept that our dreams reflect our past, and of happenings in the present, then surely they can also be used to set focus for our future.