Mr. Sandman, Bring Me a Dream

Last weekend, while my husband and I were at breakfast with a friend, we discussed dreams. First, my friend told us about her's; using bright words and concrete images. I was amazed at how real and vivid she described her dream as being. It was almost like listening to a recap of a favorite television show. Then kender spoke up and described his dream and how weird it was. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to share in their storytelling. I knew I dreamt, but wasn't able to recall what I did dream about. And this bummed me out, so I decided to work on what I could do to recall my dreams and then write them down.

Why do so many of us have a hard time remembering our dreams? Is it because of the deepness of sleep we achieve? Does the inability to recall our dreams hinder our personal development? Or maybe some of us cannot recall because we just dream deeply and are cursed with the inability to recall fully. I know that I, personally, LOVE dreaming. There are times I try and sneak daily naps in just so I can have more dreams! I believe that anyone, given enough practice CAN recall their dreams. With the help of a dream journal.

Keeping a record of your dreams brings out the storyteller in all of us. And who doesn't love to tell a fun story? All you need is a journal (or your planner) and a pen and setting some morning time aside to get your thoughts down. The idea is, when you first wake up in the morning, you write down the story, symbols and scenes that took place in your head while your eyes were closed. The entries do not to be too long-- however, I've found that it's more fun to try and write dreams down as if they were fictional stories than it is to just list symbols and places and people. This includes being able to add as much colorful description and dialog as you can. Some people don't have any problems writing down their dreams. They're able to write full recounts of the storyline, recall things that were said and they even know exactly what each symbol in the dream meant and how it reflects back to their life. However, for some of us, trying to remember our dreams can be tough. And this requires a bit more ritual and preparation.

For those of you... like me, who have difficulty remembering what went on in your head when your eyes were closed, our preparation starts the night before. After being a bit disappointed in myself for not being able to share a dream at breakfast, I've been working on trying to recall my dreams more often. At night, before going to bed, I first make sure that my bed is made and that everything in the room is picked up. This helps promote relaxation and gives my mind space away from thinking about tomorrow's to do list. If you need to, write all those little things down on a D*I*Y Planner form, just to get them out of your head. That way you don't give your mind excuses for not being receptive to dreaming and recalling them.

Next, I burn a candle or light a stick of incense. I prefer to use something "relaxing" or "stress-free" like Chamomile or Sandalwood. Again, the scent helps place my mind at ease and gives the room a nice soft scent to help me ease into dreamland. I've purchased some "smoke-less" incense sticks from my local New Age store to help cut down on the amount of smoke being given off, so I don't start coughing in bed at night while trying to sleep.

The last thing I do before sleeping is to say to myself, "I will dream tonight. And tomorrow, I will remember my dreams." Or something similar. I've been repeating this over and over again, like a mantra or a chant, while getting all snuggly in my bed, so that my subconscious will remind my waking body that I'd like to write about what my dreams said to me the next day. It sounds cheesy, I know; but it's one of the few things I know that helps me and my mind to recall something important before I fall asleep. If you're not the chanting type, maybe you can keep a card next to your alarm that says "Remember your dreams and write them down." Once I'm done with that ritual, I sleep.

This is what helps me out to get to the point where I remember my dreams. Of course, I realize that what works for me... may not work for you. And that's okay. Sometimes just knowing what others do, helps.

When you wake up the next day, give yourself a few minutes before rushing straight to your journal to record your dream. Lie still in bed, and allow your mind to re-visualize the dreams and gather up all the images. Laying in bed, with your eyes closed, helps your dream recall. Why not set your alarm to wake you up 10 minutes earlier so that you can have time to jot down your dreams AND still make it to work on time! When your mind has the dream recall in focus, slowly sit up. With your pen in hand, begin writing down the events or pictures or names that appeared in your journal. Usually, when I record my dream, I'm able to write from start to finish as I record the timeline of events... the story as it unfolds. If things are said, I try and recall them to the best of my ability. Sometimes, just writing the end down first and working your way back can help recall more details.

Asking yourself questions about your dream helps too. If you're trying to record a dream, try answering some of these questions:

  • What happened in the dream? Where did it take place?
  • Which perspective did you dream in? (First person: through your own eyes. Third person: through someone else's eyes.)
  • Did you see anyone you knew knew in the dream? How were they interacting with you? Sometimes people appearing in your dreams are a reflection of aspects of yourself.
  • How did the dream make you feel? (Sometimes, when I've had strong dreams I'll wake up feeling what I felt at the end of the dream.)
  • Where there any symbols or things you felt important in the dream?
  • Which animals appeared, if any?
  • What message do you think the dream carried for you?

Giving your responses to these questions help you to add details and provide more meaning to the dream you did have. Sometimes our dreams provide solutions to our daily problems or gives us creative inspiration for new projects or stories. I know I find that my dreams help give me ideas for things to write about. And over time, keeping track of symbols that appear in our dreams helps us to see patterns in our thought processes.

So does it work? Well, I am getting better at dream recall. Since Sunday, I've been able to recall one intense dream almost 100% and have records of a few smaller dreams in my journal. However, today I fell into my old pattern and jumped right out of bed before allowing my mind to solidify the last bits of dream to write about it. So I'd say recalling my dreams is a work in progress.

Last Monday I had a dream that was quite intense. I'd love to post the whole thing here but that'd be a bit long. So instead here's a few snippets of the dream as I wrote it down on Tuesday:

so i head around out to the front of the house and that's when i see it. LOTS and LOTS of debris. There were beams from homes in front and it almost seemed as if some contractor company was trying to put new homes up DIRECTLY in front of my beloved perch. then i turned to see my house and the whole front... had been ripped off somehow. like gone. the rooms inside weren't affected however... just the front. but it was enough that we'd hafta move and start over somewhere else. i sank to my knees and started crying. "my house, my beautiful home..." I kept crying over and over.

(later on)

People from a moving company are in the house now. They've started to carefully pack all our belongings. Huge construction equipment have also arrived. The contractors have to tear down the house and move us. but they're going to rebuild the homes and let us come home. They even offered to redo somethings, according to our specifications. Of course, i'm still in shock and have no idea what to say or do other than to take it and let them move me. I wander to the front of the house and attempt to go upstairs but they've already dug into the house and taken out the stairs with their machines.

Now, I love my house and I'd never move away from it. Yet, my first reaction to this was one of concern. I feared for my house and the yard work that I have been planning on doing. However, when I mentioned this to my friend she had a slightly different take. One that I agreed with:

Excellent. Sounds like your subconscious is ready to make some renovations/changes to your life. Especially since the contractors were making changes YOU wanted. Not what they thought was best. Plus, your spirit is telling you that even though your fearful at first (the crying when they came), everything worked out okay. The cats were fine, you were fine. It was all good. They even packed up your precious belongings and moved them so they wouldn't get damaged. Another good sign.

This analysis, given the changes my life is going through... and all the things I'm planning on doing, is an awesome example of how dreams can confirm and remind you that you are ready to move forward with projects or new experiences you may have in your life. The house in my dream wasn't my physical house... but the house that is me. With all this time off, I've got time to re-vision who I am and what I want to do next. It's good to know that my dreams, are confirming that these changes are a good and necessary thing for me.

Want to share your thoughts and tips on dream recalling and journalling? Do you have an easier or harder time remembering your dreams? Care to share a dream with the rest of us? Feel free to post your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below. And give a shout out of thanks to sara for making today's image. Yay sara!

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catch a tiger by it's tail

Unfortunatly I cannot recall the author's full name, other than her first - Serena - and that she is a British dream researcher who has written a book on dreams and recalling them. I don't even remember the title, but would recognise both if heard. Any Brits here know? Tried an amazon search - no success. Anyway, I went to a very interesting talk she gave, and one of the snippets I remember was that recalling your dreams was like catching a tiger by it's tail. The tail whips about, you have difficulty even getting hold of it, it brushes past your hand, then you just manage to grab it, and slowly you pull the tiger closer, a bit at a time, until you have the body. Don't try this at home folks, unless its a friendly tiger ;-)
She also suggested you have a pad and pen by the bed, and record it before you even get out of bed.
The other very fascinating thing I recall was about deja vu. According to her a small percentage of dreams are precognitive, but, like most dreams, are easily forgotten. Deja vu is experiencing the moment you forsaw in one of your precognition dreams and forgot about. Precognition doesn't have to be about anything bad, big or wonderful, but just insignificant, yet out of the ordinary event. On pregognition dreams, I had one I did vividly remember in the morning, and about something so out of my knowledge, that when it happened that same day, there was no doubt I had foreseen it. It was just beyond any coincidence.
Certainly a fascinating realm to explore.

Twilight of the Monkey...

Very interesting article inno. I particularly like the idea of writing one's dreams up as a story. :) If you would like something with a little more structure try Progoff's 'At a Journal Workshop'.

Judy, I think you are referring to the parapsychologist Serena Roney-Dougal. Even if her views on the brain are not new, they are certainly different. I think I will stick with the green tea for now. ;)

By the way has any one else had a log-in failure due to their cookie being eaten by a red-eyed sea monkey covered in post-its or is it just me?

for me

I've been vividly recalling dreams since I was a lil girl. I cannot remember a time when I would go longer than a single night without recalling at least one dream. I believe that somehow I've programmed my brain to wake me up after the majority of them. If I don't wake up during the course of the night, I seem to still have very good recall come morning.

I remember (from one of my few psychology classes) that not everyone dreams in full color. My dreams are in the most vivid colors I have ever encountered... which makes transferring them into my art a HUGE challenge. Nothing is ever bright or bold enough. Do you dream in full color?

I also like to sneak to bed early or catch a nap to see if I can get a special showing. My dreams tend to out-do any movie or television show I can find. I like the interactive and realistic nature of being free to do whatever I like (once I realize it is a dream of course). Unfortunately, my nightmares are equally as vivid and realistic - but thats a whole nother ball of wax.

Sweet dreams :)

my artwork | my blog

What dreams may come...

As part of my community service inno has insisted that I type a sensible reply to her latest article or die in my attempt... :O

To some dreams represent a link to the unconscious mind. To others they are merely the brain's way of clearing the day, in the main they are forgotten. Some will proclaim Campbell as the architect of modern storytelling others still will point to Jung or Hillman. I would say it never really went away Campbell only increased its visibility.

I would advise against napping during the day as this may disturb once sleep pattern and instead try relaxation and developing twilight imagery or if one prefers daydreaming. Start by collecting your twilight/dream journal and favourite writing implement. Perhaps you have a favourite chair or a sofa to relax in. close your eyes and let your mind wander through the landscape do not try to interpret your thoughts at this stage just relax and feel the sand between your toes, hear the soft purr of the kitten and smell the heliotrope as it wafts it's way across your nostrils.

What can you feel, what can you hear, what can you touch? Again without interpreting writing in your journal the people you met, cats you have stroked, words you have spoken. Some people may find it helpful if they use mapping techniques to store discrete units of information rather than the more usual linear forms used for note making and knowledge building.

We started with images, we moved on to words extracting the symbolic meaning of our thoughts and now we can start to build our stories. Here we come to a crossroad traditional psychoanalysts will maintain the individual makes his or her own symbolism whereas followers of depth psychology will claim a commonality between humans. While Jung himself felt statistics could prove anything and therefore should play no part in his work we can find evidence for a common meaning in the guise of symbolic anthropology.

In the next stage we construct out personal mythos, our story if you will and it is out of this point I will hand you back to inno and Doug who are far better storytellers then I could ever be. ;)

For those who cannot wait I suggest in addition to Progoff; Shakespeare's Macbeth; Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes; Munthe's The Story of San Michele and not forgetting Star Wars fans, Campbell's The Hero with a thousand faces.

Creative even while mundane

Mostly I'm in the camp Sardonios mentioned - that of the brain clearing its day.

I do keep in mind, however, that there are several 'minds' at work in any human's head and that most have no past or future only present, so ordering the day's events can include what the conscious mind thinks of as memories or conjecture, as well as the Jungian long-ago programmed symbols and such. Often, though, there is only a small percentage of any given dream that's recognizable as being a part of my day. There's also a part of me that believes that if my conscious mind is even fractionally aware, that I'm not fully asleep and therefore am unlikely to get full rest.

I don't put down those who feel there's much more going on during dreams than I do, it's just that - for me - the stuff of dreams is just that - stuff. Interesting sometimes. (When I'm upset, for instance, I will often have labyrinth dreams - no set place or time and only the labyrinth form itself is recurring.) Disturbing when I've eaten something with unusual (for me) spices (marsala is so NOT on my dinner list anymore). ;) And I'm often not even in my dreams. I'm sort of an unseen observer, like in a story. (Which makes sense considering I'm a writer. :D )

All in all, my dreams are usually wacky, non-sequiturish, and surreal - though usually with a definite, if not particularly logical narrative. They make sense when I'm in them, but when I'm awake... not so much. They are neither pleasant nor unpleasant, but also neither to be cultivated nor avoided... they just are.

Dreams are also, imo, unimpeachable evidence that human beings are inherently creative.

Dreams that cometrue - precognition