Have you ever thought about keeping a dream journal? Maybe it is something you already do.
Keeping such a journal, recording your adventures and at times unbelievable experiences (I mean seriously – how does one’s mind conjure up this stuff?) is an amazing way to discover your innermost self, and understand more of who you truly are.
It is said that dreaming is the purest form of creativity, and I believe this is true. Indeed, some dreams have birthed iconic creations. Mary Shelley’s dream inspired her to write Frankenstein, Paul McCartney composed the melody for Yesterday in a dream one night in 1964, and director Christopher Nolan took the inspiration for his 2010 psychological thriller Inception from his lucid dreams.
Dreams have the power to transport us beyond the walls of our limited perception of the world, connecting us to something far beyond our own minds.
In this blog I’ll be going over starting a dream journal, what to focus on, some prompts to inspire you, and why you are the best and in fact only one who can interpret them.
Why keep a dream journal?
Sigmund Freud said that dreams were a window to the unconscious, and over the years research has backed this. Dreams offer a bridge between conscious and unconscious thought, helping us to consolidate and process information, as well as gain insight into who we truly are.
According to psychoanalyst Carl Jung, our dreams can function on many different levels, from telling us which parts of our psyche are out of balance to anticipating our future needs. He also believed that most dreams operated on the level of stories, myths, and archetypes, making them a wonderful source of ideas and inspiration.
Keeping a dream journal can help alleviate stress you may not be aware you are going through, and in learning to interpret your dreams, you can become more at peace with your internal self.
Starting a dream journal
Obviously, the place to start is by having a book next to your bed and recording your dreams as soon as you wake (they disappear fast!) If you can’t remember your dream, write a note for the day that says something along the lines of ‘no dream to record.’ What this does is jolts your mind to start actively trying to recall dreams, and over time you will find you do start to remember them.
What to focus on
Dreams have different interpretations depending on the associated feelings. For example, someone might dream about flying and feel fear, whereas for another dreamer, flying may evoke feelings of joy and freedom.
As you record your dream, ask yourself how you were feeling, and be sure to record it all.
Record every aspect
Detail is important! That red hat? It needs to be recorded. The bracelet on the stranger’s wrist? That too. Every detail can reveal something about you, and as you record each minutiae, consider how it makes you feel.
Notice familiar thoughts
Certain thoughts may arise in your dream that are familiar in daily life, such as thoughts of ‘I can’t do this,’ or ‘I am unsafe.’ As you record the thoughts from your dream, ask yourself if you have had these thoughts in waking life and if so, when? Are they connected to certain situations or people?
The unconscious will often lead you to explore different moments from waking life in your dreams.
Dreams don’t have to be profound
Even the most mundane of dreams can reveal something to you. Keep asking questions as you record them, and more information will come up.
Interpreting your dreams
Often when I start doing dream journal work with clients, they feel they are not qualified to interpret them, but this is untrue. Whilst some dreams do have universal meaning such as dreams of being chased, or of falling, your dream will always have a unique meaning for you.
You are the expert on your dreams, and it is more effective to notice your emotional and intellectual reaction to your dream, than to browse dream dictionaries.
How we interpret our dreams reveals much about our attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs.
Learn to trust yourself – the fact that you are having this particular dream is one thing. The fact that you think you are having it for a specific reason can help you work through thoughts, ideas and emotions, which can lead to a healthier mind.
Remember that the dream occurred in your mind, and the information in it, is for you alone.
- Write about a dream that stands out for you. What about it made it so powerful
- Do you have recurring dreams? Ask yourself why you think you keep having these dreams and trust the answers.
- Look back on dreams you remember and ask yourself if there are any consistencies between them. For example, are you always in a certain place? Is there a consistency in your feelings?
- Choose a dream that left you feeling negative and write a positive ending to it.
Before I started interpreting my dreams in this way, I felt they had a life of their own. Now I understand that dreams are messages from my subconscious, leading me to understand myself better.
I hope you have found this helpful and I hope you too will discover how powerful a dream journal is, and how it can help us answer the deep questions about our-self and our life we didn’t even know we had.
If you would like support in process, I offer dream journal coaching, and you can contact me to find out more about this here: firstname.lastname@example.org