The language of dreams is fascinating as the sleeping mind churns out experiences and imagery without our waking contribution. Some of those dreams are so real, upon waking it’s hard to differentiate in those first few moments which is the dream reality and which is waking reality. These are incredibly valuable moments if you are on the path of self understanding.
I use my dreams as a tool. Not all of them; I believe the sleeping mind needs its freedom to exercise (or perhaps exorcise) the subconscious. But I’ve learned to use an interesting technique. It combines journaling, mindfulness and self-reflection. I’ve found so many incredible benefits, I want to share them with you. This is an interesting interactive way to communicate with your subconscious. It can give you immediate results, but over time if you regularly journal your dreams, you will realize this is multi-dimensionally beneficial to you.
Here are the initial steps to dream journaling:
- Remember your dream
- Make brief notes
- Write it out in detail
- Let it cool
- Read it mindfully
Now let’s go over these bullet points one-by-one.
Remember Your Dream
In the beginning, this might be difficult for you. Some people don’t remember their dreams at all and some remember vividly several dreaming episodes every night. Most of us are somewhere between. Even if you don’t remember your dreams but want to, don’t despair. This is an effective way to begin to open up to them. Just intending to wanting to remember will eventually help carry them to your waking remembrance.
Make Brief Notes
Keep a pen and a notebook within easy reach of where you sleep so you have access to it with as little effort as possible. If you wake after having a dream, jot down quick notes to help you remember it. You don’t need to be detailed. Key points will be enough to bring it all back in the morning and you can go back to sleep relaxed.
Write It Out In Detail
Preferably, first thing in the morning, sit down and write the dream down. It doesn’t require perfection, you’re only writing this for yourself, but be as detailed as possible. This is important. Be careful here not to lead your mind. By this I mean if something in the dream doesn’t fit or seem to make sense, don’t change it. Later you’ll find these oddities reveal quite a bit to you. So for now, toss out all the rules. Dreams have none.
Let It Cool
This is the hardest step for me. I’m too eager to tear into the puzzle my dream has painted for me. What you will need to do after you’re written your dream out is to put it away. Close the notebook and don’t even peek in it for at least a few hours and don’t give it any more thought.
Now we get to the good stuff. When you have plenty of time when you’re feeling relaxed and not likely to be disturbed, sit down and read it. You want to do this with mindfulness. Turn off the television and cell phone. This is time to sit with yourself and accept the gift you’ve given and are about to receive. If you’re familiar with meditation, allow your mind to empty and quiet. If not, just relax yourself and focus on the moment as much as you can without creating tension in yourself. If you’ve saved your dream journal on your computer, have a notepad handy or open up an extra window on the computer.
Read. Take your time. You’ll probably read it several times. Now here are some things you’ll want to observe in yourself and note down. Any word or image that:
- Triggers a strong emotional response
- Grabs your attention
- Seems oddly out of place
Note these down and what you experienced. This may not be easy at first, but if you keep at this daily it becomes second nature. Take your notes and ponder these things you’ve written down. Begin to assemble the puzzle. These will be the little candles to light your way into your subconscious and a better self understanding.
It’s more than likely, if you feel led to do it, you’ll want to do a little research into what some of the symbols may mean. This can be a little tricky. You’ll find different interpretations for the same symbols. Use the interpretation which resonates with you. You’ll just know it’s right when you read it. A few online resources are:
Dream Moods: Dream Theories: Carl Jung
Dream Interpretation | Dream Dictionary
Where Heaven and Earth Meet – Dream Analysis
Because the language of dreams is so highly personal, you will always be your most accurate interpreter. If you feel led to other sources, then follow your nose. I’ve found that sometimes in pursuing the meaning of a symbol, the “real” meaning becomes clear to me without ever finding it externally.
Learn the Language of Your Subconscious
This is where this process becomes fun and exciting because as you practice this, you begin to build your personal “dream language”. Better put, you begin to understand the language of your own subconscious. You might want to start a list for yourself. The more in touch you become with this language, the more easily you’ll remember your dreams and the more sense they’ll make to you. Ultimately this will rocket you along your path of healing and self understanding at warp speed.
Begin a Conversation with Your Dreams
Keeping a dream journal as outlined above will be everything you need. But if you want to turn things up a notch and dig a little deeper, or if you feel you just don’t understand what your dreams are trying to say, you can begin a conversation with your dreams. It’s a slow process but it’s also effective.
As you are lying in bed and beginning to drift off to sleep, ask yourself a question you really want an answer to. For example, you’ve been tense and angry lately. In your mind, you would several times repeat the question:
“Why am I so angry?”
Keep repeating this question with the intention you’ll dream the answer as you drift off to sleep. If you experience a vivid dream during the night, jot down a few notes to be sure you remember it. I’ve found these answering dreams tend to be the last dream I have before I wake in the morning which makes recalling them much easier. Follow the procedures above as you would for any dream. Be very careful not to change anything or lead yourself while you write it out and be sure to let it cool before you sit to read it. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find your answer there. If it seems unclear, then repeat it again before you go to bed again.
This is something that, like meditation, takes some time and practice to become effortless. It’s an amazing way to become friends with your subconscious. Over time you’ll begin to develop a deeper sense of mindfulness, healing and inner peace. I’ve even found the abstract imagery dreams, especially when I understand it, makes wonderful poetry.