Did you know that we all dream? In fact, researchers now say that we have at least 5 dreams per night. Most of us wake without remembering anything at all. Some of us remember bits of our dreams. And even less are fully aware that they are dreaming (called lucid dreaming). I often hear others dismiss any value in the dream state because of its often nonsensical landscape or characters who play out unnatural abilities. That is until they discover a powerful dream that solves a complex problem or foretells a future event and then their life has changed forever.
We all know how modern life can pull us away from these intriguing and internally driven practices. But we often get caught up in our own doubt of their benefit in our waking lives, and so, sabotage the process before we even get started. Sound familiar? Hang in there I’m about to tell you a story about the importance of even just a few dream bits.
One day after a long bout of remembering only bits of dreams, I decided to start logging them just out of curiosity and advice from books I had read and yet still doubtful that my measly bits of late would have any deeper meaning at all. I begrudgingly did the process of journaling these bits every morning. Each morning I would only remember a word or two or just a feeling but would log it anyway. Was I just wasting my time? Finally, after a few weeks had passed I decided to go back and read my log and what I discovered taught me a lot about trusting! Turns out, that even though each log was by themselves meaningless to me, when I read them together in sequence, I was amazed at the direct and clear message that it had for me. And then I realized that had I gotten this message in just one dream, parts of it may have gone easily unnoticed. How powerful to realize that some higher intelligence knew that I needed bread crumbs to guide me through the forest instead of giving me a clear map!
I share this story with you before giving you the “how to’s” in remembering your dreams so that you will trust the process and not dismiss even the smallest of messages. I want you to realize the powerful guidance that can come no matter if it unfolds for you in full-story-techno-color or just in dream-bits! They can both be powerful and helpful in your life so pay attention!
Before Bed Ritual
This ritual is the action step that informs your unconscious mind that you want to remember your dreams and that you intend to.
The intention is a very important step to having any experience. Actions are the outward expression of your intentions.
Place your journal, notebook or recorder, flashlight, or candle (even the battery operated candles are nice to use) near your bed so you are ready to go easily without pulling you out of the dream experience too much.
Next, take a small bite of dark chocolate and begin to get comfortable under the covers.
(a small amount of dark chocolate was the ceremonial practice that opens the heart energy center to help dream recall. taught by the dream chiefs of the Kiva ceremony)
Begin to take deep releasing breaths.
Practice calm awareness of these breaths all the way in... and all the way out... and let yourself drift off to sleep, trusting that you will remember whatever you are meant to remember.
Don’t try... Don’t repeat so-called suggestable thoughts like, “I will remember my dreams, I will remember my dreams” etc. That just engages the egoic conscious mind, which will pull you out of relaxation and keep you from falling asleep. If you have a question that you would like to pose to your unconscious mind then briefly hold the question without attachment or worry and then let it go followed by relaxed breathing. So just let go of all thoughts, trust and settle into being with your breath, your body and drift off…..
If you need help with relaxing or sleeping try one of these natural aids
Nature sound machine or recording of calming ocean waves, raindrops, crickets or a slow soft drum beat, that has a timer so that it doesn’t play all night long.
Use essential oils that help with relaxation and sleep and dream recall like small amounts of lavender, tangerine, valerian, frankincense, sandalwood, clary sage, juniper or cedarwood
Try nutritional supplements, natural herbs that help with sleep and aid the dream time like: calcium and magnesium, melatonin, valerian or teas like; lemon balm, chamomile, hops or oat tea, or in Traditional Chinese medicine the herbal remedy to calm the Shen/mind and heart energy for sleep is Zizuphus Sleep formula. If you would like to order Chinese herbal remedies let me know, I can help you with that.
Morning Practice Journaling your Dreams
Upon waking, lay there in the same position where you woke from the dream and begin to recall what just happened. Gather the overall feeling and the pieces (bits that still stand out) then begin writing down the words and emotions, the sequence of events, the storyline. Some dreams will seem far away while others are still fresh and close in your sensing. Trust that as you begin to jot down the “bread crumbs” or dream bits, your unconscious mind will begin to open up other parts of the dream as if the pathway was just under fog but noticing the bits the fog suddenly lifts. By the way, there is solid evidence in increasing recall from merely getting started with just one word and feeling and especially once you start writing.
Once you’ve journaled the dream, re-read and go back into the dream revisiting the storyline, many times other new pieces will arise and more layers will be felt and noticed. Then take a highlighter or colored pencil and underline or circle all the words or phrases that still stand out to you, that feel significant. Look at each one and make a list of them in your journal. Each word/phrase ask the dreamer in you, as you review each item “What more do I need to know about this (the word/phrase)?”, close your eyes, you may get images, or you may get another related meaning or message. Then write down whatever comes up. Ask this question at least 2 - 3 times per line item and also ask from the new information you are gathering from these inquiries. Then when you are done, review the added messages and again underline or circle those that stand out. Review the entire dream with these added messages and see if a deeper meaning surfaces for you.
Making Sense of the Dream
Sometimes a clear message of guidance comes through right away, that gives you confidence for your next steps the same day. Sometimes it isn’t clear yet, in which case you hold the dream and the message for a time until the guidance emerges. I have had dreams that made no sense until 5 years later, which surprisingly as soon as a portion of the dream event happened I knew which journal it was located in. Crazy I know, but very cool too! Through the process of dream journaling, you’ll begin to understand the very personal language of your dreams that surpasses dream interpretation books altogether and builds your awareness of who you are, why you are and where you travel in the dreamtime realm.
I sense I’ll be writing soon about Dreaming As Ceremony, stay tuned for more.
December 28th, 2018 Live Event At THE COMPASS CENTER FOR HEALING ARTS