“My dreams give me direction. I pay close attention to my dreams and look to them for guidance. My dreams have deep spiritual meaning and purpose. There is no limit to what I can create when I use my dreams to manifest my deepest aspirations.”
Dream journaling is one of the most simple, powerful, and effective tools for learning more about yourself; dreams are the doorway into the unconscious mind. When we pay attention to our dreams, we can realize and overcome significant challenges, resolve deep-rooted conflicts, and even predict the future. These two statements stem from my own three years of experience with dream journaling, although dream journaling and analysis are tools used by psychotherapists today (1).
The Art of Dream Journaling
One reason I am fond of dream journaling is because it is so simple; virtually anyone can do it! All it requires is you, sleep, a pen, a notebook, and perhaps a flashlight.
To keep an effective dream journal and be able to analyze your dreams thoroughly, it is essential to enter sleep in a calm and relaxed state. Each time I spend a week at a yoga or meditation retreat, my dreams become much more vivid and the messages are a lot clearer; if I am worrying about worldly issues before I fall asleep, I often awake agitated and cannot remember any dreams. We always dream, its simply a matter of paying attention to them.
How to relax before bed is really up to you. Some people may read the bible, the sutras; some may breathe deeply, some may practice a few grounding asanas. Just try to quiet the mind as much as possible; I’d say it is easiest to do that if an hour or so before sleeping, you do not use electronics nor do anything over-stimulating to the senses. Further, sleeping in complete darkness and in a comfortable environment will be helpful. We want the body and mind to relax as much as possible – all external stimulation should be minimized.
The dream journal can be any notebook of your choosing, I have had many over the years – no matter what they look like, they all seem to work fine. Before you go to bed, write the date on the top of the page you are going to use, and close the book with the pen in this page. The journal should be kept in the same place each night and very close to where you are sleeping.
When you awake, immediately grab your journal and start writing! The longer you wait, the harder it will be to remember your dreams. This may be too much information, but I usually wake up and really need to use the restroom… take your dream journal with you! It is also important not to turn on any bright lights; again, try not to overstimulate yourself in any way as it can easily cut the thread between your dream state and waking state.
Write as much as you can remember, the quicker you get it down the better as the waking mind will often come and start reminding you of everything you have to do that day. Just keep calm and write, the rest of the day will be there after you finish. Also, try to write as legibly as possible. (I often have a hard time with this – and its easier to interpret dreams if you know what you wrote).
Analysis of Dreams
I have found no standard formula for interpreting dreams; all that I have come to understand is that they should be interpreted. As stated in The Talmud, “a dream which is not interpreted is like a letter which is not read.” Sometimes I could interpret them immediately after or even during writing them down. Sometimes I wait until the afternoon or going to bed the night before. Sometimes days, weeks, or even months go by before I really understand the dream. Just be patient, the meaning will come when the time is right.
In regard to using resources to help you interpret your dreams, I think it is okay, but the real meaning comes from within you. If you are open to the concept of dream journaling, it is likely that you will be able to analyze the dreams you have without any reference material or help. I would say seek guidance when necessary, but trust your intuition, for they are your dreams.
Further Notes on Keeping a Dream Journal
Although dream journaling is an art and the interpretation of dreams is supported by psychotherapists, it is not an exact science. Some mornings you may awake and remember 10 dreams in exact detail, sometimes weeks will go by and you will not remember anything of your dreams. Sometimes you understand the symbols and messages in the dreams instantly, and sometimes you have no idea or just a vague idea. The key is to simply have faith in the process and have fun with it. I have shared in previous paragraphs all the tips I have found helpful. I’m sure this process varies for everyone because it is so intimate; find what works for you and stick to it 🙂
My Experience with Dream Journaling
I have been practicing dream journaling for about three years now. For most of that time, I have kept a journal by my side, regardless of where I was in the world. Dreams have helped me gain deep insight into myself; it is too intimate to write on here, but deep-rooted complexes and understanding of years (and likely lifetimes) of attachment have been resolved by simply paying attention to my dreams. Dreams have allowed me to experientially understand that time does not exist. What I mean is something you probably have experienced: having a dream and then experiencing part of that dream the next day. For instance, I was able to predict exactly the percentages I would earn on my personal training certification test before I took it; when I got the results, I was amazed.
Dream journaling can potentially help you objectively view and overcome challenges. It has helped me to feel more connected with myself and the world. It is very simple and only requires about 10-15 minutes of your time each day. I think it is an extremely powerful tool and allows one to gain further autonomy; you do not have to rely on intuits or shamans to access your intuitive capabilities – a simple pen and paper allows you to find deep power and magic within yourself. If you have never tried it, give it a shot! Remember to be patient, as with anything, it takes time and effort to perfect. But, in my experience, this simple technique can be life changing. Let me know how it goes!
Awesome Dream Journal!
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*Originally posted on my old website which no longer exists, riverbearfitness.com.