Many people believe they cannot meet the first requirement of dreamwork—remembering their dreams. Some investigators, for example Freud, say that we forget our dreams because we don’t want to know what is in them. If true, this would be tough to overcome, and remembering our dreams would require professional assistance. However, this isn’t the only reason we forget our dreams. Our memory function in the frontal lobe just doesn’t work the same when we are asleep. The events in our dreams leave a very feeble impression on our minds, but we can correct this problem by taking steps to capture the memory as soon as we wake up. Dreams are not as difficult to remember as many people think. Most of the methods for dream recall are simple and easy, and they start to work in just a few days.
For those of you who are not accustomed to remembering your dreams, let’s discuss the process step by step. The first and easiest suggestion is simply to tell yourself to remember a dream. As you drift off to sleep, say to yourself, “I am going to remember a dream.”
It is also useful to spend a few minutes visualizing this process. Picture what it will be like to wake up the next morning with the dream images in your head. Imagine what it will look and feel like to reach for a pen and paper and start writing. Leave the pen and paper beside your bed because believe it or not, you will probably remember a dream within a few days.
I’ll start with a few of my favorite methods; One is writing down whatever is on your mind when you wake. Ask yourself, “What was just going through my mind?”
Don’t be expecting a big long story, or for that matter even a little story, with a beginning, middle, and end. We don’t need that!!
Jot down anything that comes to mind – a little piece of a dream, one solitary image or feeling, or just the fact that your mind seemed blank and that you are frustrated not to have caught a dream. By writing down just a line or two each day, you will teach yourself to notice what is in your mind upon awakening. And since we almost always are dreaming just before we wake, soon you will be able to remember plenty of dreams.
Here’s a big favorite of mine: First, start with a small object, like your watch. Take it off. Turn it around in your hand, observing it carefully. Now sit back and close your eyes. Try to imagine the watch in your mind’s eye. When you think you’ve mastered the feeling of remembering the image, try this one.
Walking around a room (which is like a dream “space”), slowly scroll your eyes all around, taking careful note of how the furniture and objects sit in the room. This is not like looking at a page or watching television because you are in this space. After you’ve looked around several times, close your eyes and try to retrace the room in your imagination.
A third exercise is trying to picture the house you are in. Imagine walking through each room, seeing and touching the walls, the furniture, and all the other objects. When you feel skilled, try this with the house you grew up in. These exercises hone the skills you need for dream recall.
If you wake with a dream or even a fragment of a dream, it is important to write it down right away. Don’t get out of bed. You might forget it. If you can’t remember the whole dream, write down as much as you can. Don’t worry about writing in complete sentences. Just try to get as many images, characters, actions and feelings from the dream as possible. Many people find that as they start writing, more and more of the dream comes back. It won’t be long before you are remembering all the details. And if you do, go ahead, write your dream down in detail.
When you’re done jotting down the notes on your dream, write down how you felt when you woke up. Were you happy, sad, scared, angry? Did you feel tired or rested? Did you have some thought in your mind, or some fragment of a song? When I first started recording my dreams, I didn’t get out of bed until I grew accustomed to remembering. Now I only get up after I’ve started writing and feel confident I can sit up and continue. Some people write the dream while their eyes are still closed. Just make sure you have a large pad!
Sometimes, if I haven’t put a pad beside the bed, I sleepily ask my husband Andy if I can tell him the dream as soon as I open my eyes. Once you say your dream aloud, often more detail comes to you. And once that happens, it is remembered. Plus, you have the option of later asking that person for details. (Although you shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t remember.) Recently I learned that Vitamin B6 (100-250 mg) taken before bed increases dream recall and vividness.
Keep a flashlight on your night table in case you wake in the middle of the night. I recently used one on a solo trip. This was one of the best experiences with dream recording I ever had. I kept a mini recorder on my night table, and when I woke up I pushed the record button with my eyes still closed. I got every part of the dream that way, and then I wrote it out later. This was ideal for capturing little details I might have missed by getting up.
If there is a problem you have on your mind, you can ask yourself to dream a solution. Here’s how it works: First you write out your problem, formulated as a question. In this note, you should ask for a dream with a solution in symbols you can understand. For example, if you feel undecided about selling your home, set your mind to incubate a dream about an answer. Some dreamers even write a note to themself that says something like this:
“Is this the right time to sell the house? Do I really feel right about selling? Am I comfortable moving on to a new space? Am I ready? Tonight I will have a dream that gives me the answer to these questions.”
You might use similar kinds of questions about a relationship you are in, or a job that you’re thinking about changing. It also helps to sit for a few minutes and conjure up the mood you have when you think about your problem. When I want to incubate a dream, that’s my personal favorite and works like a charm for me. For example, while writing out your questions about whether or not to sell your house, close your eyes and let the feeling of confusion, dashed with a fear of the unknown, surround you.
Read the note before you go to sleep each night and spend a few minutes bringing that feeling forward. Glance at the note during the day. Then write down or record every dream you have afterwards, and interpret it according to the methods in described in either of my books!
As far back as 2000 years ago, the Kabbalah described steps to what we now call dream incubation. If you dream about a problem, your dream will also suggest an answer. The most fascinating gift is that after you analyze and evaluate your dream’s suggestions, they always make perfect common sense!
Your comments are welcome!