Wednesday, April 18, 2012


The biggest challenge facing every beginning dream worker is remembering our dreams. How can we improve dream recall?

First off realize that it is a skill that we naturally have. Notice how easily children recall dreams and engage in them. As we age we are told to let go of childish things, unfortunately most of us live in a culture which would include dreams and dreaming in this category. So, dreaming is a natural state, one that we all experience many times every night. Dream recall, also a natural ability, is honed and perfected with practice.

What will you GAIN from remembering your dreams? What is your motivation? How will this practice benefit you? Increased creativity, problem solving, fine tuning intuition, exploring lucid dreams, travelling to different realities, time travelling (past, present, future of our present life), travelling into past and future lives, fun, healing, entertainment, future spiritual gain - developing mindful awareness and mind training to help in times of challenge and transition when emotions may be high, pain intense and as a preparation for the dying process, to explore the nature of "reality", mend the past, set a nightmare right and reclaim personal power, to resolve and release recurring dreams, a form of self-study... these are and have been just some of my motivating factors. What are yours?

MAKE DREAM WORK AND RECORDING THEM A HABIT: Realize that you will have to dedicate some time EVERY DAY to dream working. Make it a habit, like brushing your teeth. How much time do you want to allot to dream work?

PREPARE YOURSELF: Set your alarm clock to go off anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes before your normal arising (this means you may have to go to bed earlier). Find an alarm clock with a soft sound. If it is too loud or "alarming" you will be woken up too abruptly, as will your bedmate. You want to become gently aware that you are rousing from sleep. Place a pen and a journal within easy reach (mine is in a basket under my bed. I simply roll over and reach down and have accessed it with very little disturbance). Some people like to use a recording device but I find the act of writing accesses the subconscious mind most effectively.

BEFORE YOU GO TO SLEEP SET AN INTENTION that, "I will remember AND record my dreams upon awakening." Repeat it mentally as you set your alarm reminding yourself that the alarm is to trigger you to recall and record your dreams.

MORE ON INTENTION: Sometimes our motivation and intention needs to be more enticing and fun than just, "I will remember AND record my dreams upon awakening." Set yourself a fun assignment i.e. I'm going to explore and relax on a beautiful, sandy beach and get some sun or I'm going to meet that great guy/girl that I saw yesterday. Make it interesting, something to look forward to; an adventure. As you drift off imagine your chosen scenario. When you awaken check. Did you go to the beach or meet the guy? If yes, you may find it easy to ask your dream self to tell me (your waking self) all the details.

THE ALARM CLOCK REMINDS YOU OF YOUR INTENTION not only to remember your dreams but to record them as well:
Many people open the door to dreams but don't do the follow through because of laziness it takes too much effort I'd rather go back to sleep for a few minutes more, or they hit the ground running as their mind gets flooded with other things that seem more important I've got to get going, got to do X and X and ..... 
Do not allow yourself to rush into your day! That's why you've set the alarm for an earlier time. Its ring or buzz is a reminder that you have set aside this 15, 30 or 60 minutes for dreamwork. It is also a signal to get your journal and pen which you placed within easy reach the night before.

USING THE ALARM CLOCK AS A TOOL TO DREAM RECALL AND RE-ENTRY - 3 different scenarios and the approaches I employ for each.
Note: Though I don't usually need 60 minutes for dream work I set aside that amount of time. 
1. The initial alarm goes off. I turn it off, grab my journal and pen and the dream virtually spills onto the page. I may or may not need to re-set the alarm clock to ring at the time I NEED to get up.
2. The initial alarm goes off. I grab my journal and pen. I know the dream is there but it's not willingly revealing itself to me. I leave my alarm on snooze (it goes off at 4 minute intervals) and draw it close to me so that if, during dream re-entry, I drift off I will be brought back to my intention to write my dreams. I have recaptured full dreams using this technique. They may have been from earlier that night or taken place during a 4 minute period (In dream time a lifetime can be lived in 4 minutes!) Once I'm well on my way to dream recording I effortlessly and without disturbance, re-set my clock for the time I NEED to be up. 
3. The initial alarm goes off. I grab my journal and pen. I sense nothing. I set my alarm for 15 minutes later and allow myself to go back to sleep "perhaps to dream". Upon awakening I either set my alarm for when I have to get up and begin recording what I've recalled or do the snooze technique. 

A NOTE REGARDING INTERRUPTING SLEEP - some people recommend setting the alarm to go off at specific intervals (timed to maximize contact with REM sleep) throughout the night to increase the likelihood of capturing a dream. Personally I don't like this interruption until the later hours of the morning when REM sleep is longer and more vivid, intervals between shorter, and the hypnogogic state (state between waking and sleeping; sleep and waking) more easily accessed. Recent research shows that our natural sleep cycle (and one that existed before the invention of the light bulb) is to sleep for about 6 hours, wake up for an hour or so and then go back to sleep for an hour or two more. This second sleep is rich in dream offerings and increases the likelihood of experiencing lucid dreams.
Others recommend recording a dream if it has woken you up during the night. Good advice! Either write in full, write a word, phrase or dream fragment that can serve as a doorway into fuller dream re-entry in the morning.
Still others, recommend drinking a glass of water before sleeping so that you will have to wake up to use the washroom in the middle of the night and perhaps recall a dream. As a Shiatsu Therapist I don't recommend this - it is unnatural, taxing to the bladder and kidneys and I believe, may be disturbing to the nervous system if done to excess. 
If you want to try the water technique, use it as a memory prompt. Have a glass of water by your bedside and drink a small sip before bed while repeating the suggestion, "I will remember and record my dreams upon awakening." Some people have found that upon awakening the act of drinking the water, even just reaching for the glass, triggers dream recall.

Disturb yourself as little as possible. Lay in the position in which you awoke. If no dreams come or if you think there is more to be recovered, change into another sleep position and wait there. Record what comes. In changing positions I often gather more info and glean a new perspective from each position. I record with my free arm (it helps but isn't necessary to be ambidextrous).

The smallest, most insignificant "dreams" or waking thoughts can prove to be filled with information or be the vehicle to synchronic happenings during the day. If you've read any of my other entries on dreams, dream work, dream circle you know that dreaming constitutes more than just sleep dreams.

If you really have no dream to record WRITE DOWN, "No dreams recalled" this act, oddly enough, has spurred on many a dream recording.
What are you feeling, thinking, sensing? Write it down.
Tell yourself a story. Write it down.

Be open to the fact that your dream may spontaneously come to mind as you're engaged in daily activities. Take a moment to review, remember and write it down as soon as possible. 

TALK ABOUT DREAMS with: your family and/or friends who are open to this material.

READ ABOUT DREAMS - reading about dreams increases the likelihood of recall.

JOIN A DREAM GROUP - learn from the wisdom and experience of others. Being in the company of other dreamers inspires us to becoming more skilled in the art of dream navigation. In dream groups/circles we explore the many facets of dreams and dream-related states. There is also plenty of time for Q&A.

CONSULT A DREAM WORKER WHO KNOWS THAT THE DREAMER, AKA THE AUTHOR OF THE DREAM, HAS THE ABILITY TO UNCOVER AND DISCERN ITS WISDOM, who will help you develop facility with dream work. Challenging dreams such as nightmares, night terrors are not suitable for most dream groups/circles and are best explored one-on-one in private consultation with a dream worker.

I host a dream group at my place every second Wednesday of the month and at various locations in the Oakville, Burlington area.
I do one-on-one dream consultations and lead dream circles for individual and corporate groups.

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