Dream diaries are known to improve dream recall, in both number and quality. They reveal repetitive patterns, symbols, and themes, provide a record of your insights and inspirations, and offer a key to the buried mysteries of the subconscious. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!
Prepare Your Journal –
Setting up a dream diary doesn’t take a lot of fuss. Your journal should be inviting, but not intimidating, so avoid the fancy blank books available through the bookstores. Instead, opt for a simple and inexpensive 3-ring binder from the corner drug store. The binder’s flexibility will let you add or remove pages where needed, and allows you to add records written in a word processing program.
Fill your binder with a generous amount of ruled paper, and tie a pen to one of the binder-rings with a length of yarn so it will be handy when you need it. You might even consider fastening a small penlight to the binder in the same way, to keep from disturbing bed partners when making midnight notes.
Create A Title Page –
Once the supplies are in order, create a title page with a positive affirmation about dreaming. You may want to use a famous quote about dreams, create your own, or use one of the following suggestions:
“Sleep and dream, wake and remember!”
“Tonight I dream, and I remember my dreams!”
“Sleep well, dream well… Wake well, remember well, be well. “
Now, just add your name and date to the title page, and you’re ready to go!
Write Every Day –
As soon as possible after awakening, open your dream journal and start to write. You may or may not remember the dreams of the night before, but its important to be in the habit of writing something, even if all you write is that you don’t remember any dreams from the night before. Jumpstart your memory with a trigger phrase like “Last night I dreamed….” If you do this early enough upon waking up,
you’ll usually find you remember at least a fragment, and even the slightest fragments can become meaningful when a record is kept of them. Patterns develop over time, symbols are repeated and contexts become clearer. Very often, in the process of recording a fragment, you’ll remember more and more of the dream as you write. The important thing is to record whatever you do remember of your dreams as soon as possible.
Write from within the dream –
Your dreams should be recorded in the first person, present tense – in other words, write as though you are experiencing the dream right now, from your own perspective. So instead of “The woman walked down the hall”, you would write “I see the woman walking down the hall. ” This method will put you back into the dream, and you’ll find you remember more as you go along.
Other than using that one trick, don’t fuss over your writing; don’t worry about grammar, spelling, or punctuation or word choices You’re not trying to write great literature, you’re trying to record a memory before it fades. Over time, you’ll probably find that some of the ‘mistakes’ are revealing. Misspellings can reveal puns, and often dream items suffer from meaningful mistaken identities. For instance, a tiger might be called a “lion”, in a dream about “lies”.
Use All Your Senses –
As you write, be sure and take note of all of your senses, including your emotions. Especially important is anything that seems unusual or out of place. Imagine yourself back in the dream scenario. Does the dream smell a certain way? Does it feel especially hot or cold? Do you have a strong or changing emotional reaction in the dream? Be sure and record these impressions.
Keep Track of Life Events –
The meanings of some dreams are obvious, and can be recorded right away, but understanding most dreams takes a little more time. After you’ve recorded your dream, date it, and then make a few quick notes on possible relevance to your waking life.
These don’t need to be complicated or particularly well thought out, they just need to be enough to jog your memory when you review the dream later on. It also helps to provide a little context by making notes on important events in your life as they happen, right in your dream journal. Are you starting a new job, fighting with your neighbor, having concerns about your health? Keep track of these sorts of daily events in an abbreviated form, and over time, a pattern will start to emerge.
Record Your Interpretations –
Whenever a dream’s meaning becomes apparent to you, add it to your journal. You may be able to interpret some dreams that same morning, while others may take days, weeks, or even months to become clear. Be sure to date the interpretation, as well as the original dream; later on, you may want to know how long it took between the two. Make a notation of the date of any similar dreams you’ve had, as well, so they can be cross-referenced.
Create A Glossary –
Use a highlight marker on any important or repetitive symbols in the dreams. You may want to collect these symbols in a sort of glossary at the back of your notebook. To create a glossary, just write down the symbol on a page, followed by the meaning you think it has, and the dates of any dreams it has occurred in. Add to it as you go along, but don’t be tempted to copyand it w definitions from dream dictionaries. Your goal is to create a record of your personal meanings, and it will grow steadily over time.
Review Your Diary Often –
Make it a habit to review your dream diary regularly. Patterns can emerge over long periods of time, revealing hidden meanings and connections and the longer you keep working with your diary, the more insight you will gain. Pay special attention to repetitive dream situations, symbols, and scenarios.
The same symbol may appear in different situations, or the same sort of situation may be created in different scenes and symbols; these repeated themes are often meaningful. You may also discover dreams that foreshadow current events, themes, or relationships in your life. Perhaps more importantly, you may discover how just many dreams seem to be premonitions, but aren’t – the events never happen, and the fears so many people feel after dreams of misfortune are revealed as groundless. Keeping a diary can reveal all of this, and more.
In Summary –
Keep track of your dreams, and record the context in which you dream them. Make notes on what your dreams might mean, and review your dream journal often. As a result, you’ll find yourself gaining new insights into your mind and life, and you will have a record of self-discovery to look back on in times to come.