Dreams are fragile things. One minute we can remember everything our brain created while we slept, then the whole thing disappears from our memory. Some people never remember their dreams, while there are others that like to remember every aspect in the hopes that it provides them with some insight into their subconscious. Many people believe that the people, animals, and symbols that we dream of are placed in our dreams in order to relay a message to the conscious brain, and it is for these people that a dream journal can be a valuable asset. Through regular use it is possible to see patterns emerging, while also helping you to have better dream recall over time.
Finding a Suitable Dream Journal
There are lots of ready made dream journals on the market, but they may not necessarily be right for you. There are lots of aspects of keeping a journal that you need to consider. Think about how long to want to keep the journal active for, and how detailed you want your entries to me. Many off the shelf dream journals simply do not allow the space required for a detailed account of your dreams. It may also be that you would like to group similar types of dreams together, for example having a section for animal themed dreams or nightmares. In this case, you will need a journal which will allow you to move the pages around such as a loose-leaf journal or note book. Where you keep your journal is also important. It should be close to your bed, along with any materials you will need such as pens, highlighters of sticky notes. A basket on your bedside table will keep everything you need ready for when you wake up.
Organisation and Self Discipline
Anyone that has tried to keep a journal or diary will tell you that it requires a certain level or organisation and self discipline. First thing in the morning it is easy to forget to fill in your journal, you mind fills up with tasks for the day ahead. Placing a reminder on your smart phone, or a secondary alarm to remind you about your journal can be very useful, especially until the act of completing your journal becomes a matter of routine. When you have completed one journal entry, it can be helpful to write the date for the next entry straight away. This not only helps you keep track of any missing entries, but also helps with the morning mind fog where you are trying to remember the day and date! While many find this method useful, there are some that prefer to enter the day and date details before they go to sleep, also noting down the way that they are feeling, any concerns that are worrying them or and events of the day that are preying on their minds. All of these things can have a bearing on the dreams that are to follow, so it can in fact be a useful exercise to examine how thoughts and feelings impact on our dreams. Remember to leave enough space after writing down the dream to come back to it and jot down your interpretations.
What to Include in your Dream Journal
If you can, they best way to record your dreams is the moment you wake up, while they are still fresh in your memory. Delays such as visiting the bathroom can allow some of the vital images or feelings of the dream to dissipate. It is important to record everything that you can remember, from scenarios and locations to characters, feelings and even textures and smells. It can be difficult to remember things in the order that they happened so try to jot down some keywords that will help to jog your memory and place things into a timeline. Think about descriptive words to relate what you were feeling at the time. Certain points in the dream could have been extremely vivid, this could lead to feelings of excitement, terror or intense pleasure or happiness. If necessary, sketch images of any symbols to research later. Some journal keepers even like to use colour to represent the emotions provoked by their dreams.
Know when to Stop
Remember, you are not writing a novel. This is a personal record of your dreams. Spelling and grammar are not important! This is a journal for you and you alone (unless you wish to share it). You do not have to write a blow by blow account of each and every dream. Make notes on the most vivid aspects, the most important characters and of course the feelings that they provoked. Use as much detail as you feel is necessary to allow you to come back to your journal and perform some kind of analysis. Giving each dream a name can also be helpful, find a title for the dream that immediately captures the feelings that the dream provoked.
Take Time to Review
In the early days of maintaining your dream journal you may find it difficult to remember enough information in order to write more than a couple of lines. You will find that better memory and more clarity of dream recall will come with practice. There are lots of online sites, books and other resources that will help you with interpreting your dreams. What you need to remember is that what one resource says is not necessarily all that a certain element of your dream means. Dreams are highly personal, if you see a dog in your dreams it may not simply be relating to loyalty, strength, or unconditional love. The dog that you see could be a link to a part of your childhood that you need to remember relating to a family pet, or certain event. No matter how uneventful you thought that a dream was, still be sure to make some kind of journal entry. More often than not it is the seemingly uneventful dreams that carry the greatest message!
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