“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us.
And the world will live as one.”
As a therapist, I always encourage my clients to record and bring in their dreams to work on. The dreams can often help us to zero in on the core of the issue very quickly, and can give us a quick snapshot to focus on. I practice what I preach- I have been a member of my own dream circle for over 25 years, and still delight in the dream discoveries we make with each other every month.
So what to do if you have trouble remembering your dreams- or think that you don’t dream?
First off, rest assured that everyone dreams every night- sleep studies that chart our REM sleep (REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement, the quick movements our eyelids make when we are dreaming) show that on average, we all have about six dreams per night (There are about six cycles of REM and non-REM sleep each night). This is predicated on an average of 7-8 hours of sleep a night. If you are one of the lucky ones who can get by on less, then you probably have fewer cycles. We generally only remember the dreams that occur in the cycle right before we wake up.
To enhance dream recall there are several things you can do. First of all, you need to want to remember them. It seems simplistic, but if you think about it, we tend to remember things better that are important to us, that we put our minds to. So when you go to sleep at night, tell yourself that you want to remember your dreams; and you promise to pay attention to the messages they are sending you. After that, don’t trust to memory alone when you awake. Dreams are like puffs of smoke or wisps of fog- move too quickly and poof! they disappear.
Most dreams are like helium balloons– they need to be tied down to stay with us. Invest in a journal, and keep it right next to your bed, along with a pen or sharpened pencil. You can now even get special “night-light” pens that light up in the dark either online, or at most office supply stores. Try to write down your dream as soon as possible upon waking. Alternately, you can use a tape recorder to capture it, but you then have to be disciplined to transcribe it later.
Move as little as possible, so that you don’t disturb the fragile dream fabric. Sit up slowly, or even write while still lying down. If you had a dream, and it slipped away, try putting your body back into the same position it was in when you woke- your body has “positional memory”, and you can often re-capture the dream if you return to the same position.
Try to write it down in the same order in which you dreamed it-– what happened first, next, last in a dream makes a difference when you are working with it later. If you are afraid you will forget it if you don’t write down the end first, go ahead and do so, then re-write it in order, or at least make arrows and notations so you know the order in which you actually dreamed the scenes. Date each entry— that way you begin to have a record of dreams and themes that re-occur, and can check them against what was going on in your life that day or week to get some immediate connections and insights. Don’t try to analyze while you are recording the dream– it can get confusing to sort out what was your dream, and what were your thoughts about your dream later on. If I have some immediate associations, I write a section I call “notes” after the dream, and then jot down my thoughts so they don’t contaminate the actual dream material.
Coming soon– more tips on recall, ancient dream temples, and what it means to purposely “incubate” a dream. Please share this blog and these ideas with others who may have interest.
Linda Yael (www.lindayaelschiller.com)