Dream recall meets morning mind-chatter

Last Friday’s post explored a dream recall technique for improving your dream memory. I have been testing this technique for the last two weeks trying to build this habit, but I am finding it difficult.

What are some of the difficulties I’ve encountered?

  • Proper rest – when I am over-tired, remembering dreams (even after a nights sleep) is more difficult for me.
  • My bed is falling apart.
  • Busy morning mind-chatter.

I notice one of the biggest inhibitors to remembering my dream is the third point: busy morning mind-chatter. Waking up in the morning, I haven’t been giving myself the space to just sit and reflect on only my dreams. Instead other thoughts start filtering in, and then I find myself sucked out of the mindfulness reviewing my dreams into the drama of the day.

Dream recall technique

Friday is about dreams… because I have a hidden passion for dream work, and tomorrow morning is the perfect day to sleep in.

Dreams are an excellent source of creativity. They can also be used to uncover a vast source of insight. Lucky for you, everyone dreams every night. Except possibly when there is a lot of alcohol, or when you don’t go to bed. Although, then you might start hallucinating, which is also fun.

Dreams aren’t that useful (in my opinion) if you can’t remember them, so the first step is learn how to recall your dreams in detail.

 

Dream Recall Technique:

Purpose: To increase your ability to remember you dreams.

Steps:

  1. Keep a private dream journal next to your bed.
  2. Before falling asleep, repeat to yourself (at least 10 times) a positive intention to remember your dreams. For example: “I remember my dreams with ease, and write them down as I awake.”
  3. First thing in the morning, as you awake, lie still. (This can be difficult with an alarm clock.)
  4. There is a period between when you end dreaming and when you awake, where you are conscious but still have access to your dream memory. Think up 3 key words to describe your dream with.
  5. When you awake, write down the key words before anything else.
  6. Next, write down your dream in a much detail as possible including anything you remember – most importantly how you felt and anything out of the ordinary.

When you start, you might not remember anything. Just focus for five minutes and jot down anything you come up with. The longer you do this, the better you get.

Lucid dreaming for dummies

The art of lucid dreaming is all about waking up inside your dream, becoming conscious that you’re dreaming and realizing that you are in control of what is created. My own lucid dreams are relatively infrequent… about once every two months, but when they happen, I love to take off flying.

Lucid dreaming takes a bit more work than dream recall.

Critical State Testing

One method to wake up in dreams is to ask yourself if you’re dreaming or not. To do this you need to build up the habit while you are awake.

Pick 5-10 occasions during the day to ask yourself “Am I dreaming or awake, right now?”. Make sure you stop and become intently aware of your surroundings. Look carefully for oddities or inconsistencies. Think back to events of the last several minutes. Do you have any trouble remembering what just happened?

Be careful not to just answer to yourself, “of course I’m awake” without thinking about it, otherwise in your dream… you may do exactly the same.

Scheduling time for lucid dreaming

Another step is raise your awareness before you dream. Here is a technique:

  1. Set your alarm to awaken 2-3 hours earlier than usual, then go to bed at the normal time.
  2. When alarm goes off, get out of bed immediately. Stay away for 2-3 hours.
  3. A half-hour before returning to sleep, think about what to accomplish in lucid dream: where to go, who to see, what to do.
  4. Return to sleep in an undisturbed place, keeping your intention focused on having a lucid dream as you fall asleep.
  5. Give yourself at least 2 hours to dream.

Dream analysis 101

Okay, here is my quick and dirty Jungiang Dream Interpretation guide. Brace yourself.

There are 3 elements to Jungian dream interpretation:

  1. Dream Details.
    Record as closely as you can the exact details of the dream. Events, emotions, anything out of the ordinary, anything that stands out. Not just the object in the dream, but also the distortions on the object.
  2. Personal, cultural, and archetypal associations.
    Gather your associations of your dream details, starting with what symbols mean to you personally, and then what they mean to you culturally, and finally what they mean on an archetypal level (in that order).
  3. Put it in context.
    Place the dream and associations in the context of the dreamer’s current life situation. As a general rule, if you already know what the dream seems to be saying, then you have missed its meaning.

There you go. That’s it. I said it would be quick and dirty, didn’t I? It’s not rocket science.

Where do dreams come from?

Recent theories postulate that dreams often stem from worries or emotionally charged problems that are unresolved when you go to sleep. The dream process helps to break down the emotional charge so you the following day you can devote your energy to… uncovering new problems and worries!

This is slightly different to Freud’s theory that dreams have latent meanings; instead, your dream comes from your conscious introspections instead of your ‘subconscious infantile impulses’ (if you have such a thing). Also, your dreams aren’t disguised or distorted wishes – they are just your senses replaying unexpressed emotions that have aroused from your day.

On another interesting note, your beliefs about how your dreams are structured and what they mean may actually effect HOW you dream. If you read up on Freudian dream analysis, your dreams are more likely to fit Freud’s theory. If instead, you’re a believer of Jung’s interpretation methods… then your dreams will adapt accordingly.

Either way, the more you recall and analyze your dreams, the easier they become to understand.

Dream recall

Having trouble remembering your dreams? Here is what you do:

  1. Get a private dream journal and keep it next to your bed.
  2. Before falling asleep, repeat to yourself (at least 10 times) a positive intention to remember your dreams. For example: “I remember my dreams with ease, and write them down as I awake.
  3. First thing in the morning, as you awake, lie still. (Yes, this is difficult with an alarm clock.)
  4. There is a period between when you end dreaming and when you awake, where you are conscious but still have access to your dream memory. Think up 3 key words to describe your dream.
  5. When you awake, write down the key words before anything else.
  6. Next, write down your dream in a much detail as possible including anything you remember – most importantly how you felt and anything out of the ordinary.

The longer you do this, the better you get. Practice, patience and intention. Everyone dreams every night. Except possibly when there is a lot of alcohol… I find that drastically interferes with my dreaming process. Which is probably why I don’t drink much. I like my dreams.

I must be dreaming

Dreams are a beautiful thing. Half our life we run around in a dream world, half asleep, running away from something or plagued by problems we don’t understand. Then we wake up, and keep doing the same thing.

My interest in dreams boils down to three things:

  1. Dream Recall (remembering our dreams)
  2. Dream Analysis (understanding what our dreams are about)
  3. Lucid Dreaming (becoming conscious as we dream)

Dream recall is the first stepping stone to any dream work. Everybody dreams, whether they think they do or not. Being able to remember your dreams is possible for everyone, it just takes some practice, intention and patience.

Once you can remember your dreams, then you can look for useful symbols and patterns that uncover problems in your life that you might not be aware of, as well as a source of creative insight on ways you might approach these unresolved issues.

Lucid Dreaming is taking control of your dreams while you are dreaming… a tool where you can both embrace your problems and create situations that you wish to be in… like the ultimate vacation. Too bad it only lasts until you wake up.

Dreaming

I like to dream. I even like to dream that I’m dreaming. During the day, I look for hidden opportunities, like riding the tube, where I can doze off and discover a delightful dream. Only when I dream, I try to become lucid and awake, so I can be aware of what’s going on.
I know you think this topic will put you to sleep, and you wish I would pick something else.

Dream on.