Keeping track of your dreams is a fundamental step of understanding them. Because dreams are often presented to us in fragments, most of the time they don’t really make sense for us.
For instance, dreaming of riding a roller coaster while sipping your coke upside down doesn’t seem to make sense at all. But being able to record and keep track of this will allow you to tie them up later on.
As each dream can have a totally different context, with unlimited amounts of varying meanings, making a dream interpretation can be quite the task. Organized in a chaotic way, these scattered ideas, concepts, and even feelings can easily be as fleeting as they are real.
With that, the way to go is to systematically approach the problem. By knowing how to create a proper dream journal, these seemingly non-sensical images and symbols will be recorded in a way that allows them to gain meaning and value.
Instead of simply focusing on the feeling and the moment, recording them will allow you to unlock their meaning, just like a cryptic message that’s finally exposed.
But before we begin recording and unlocking our dreams, we should ask one thing – why should you do this anyway?
Dreams: The Pathway of Understanding Oneself
As one of the most prominent existentialist philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche is known for his phrase: “He who has a why to live, can bear with almost any how.” Truly reflective of the human condition, this phrase suggests how important it is to find one’s raison d’etre or reason for living.
By having a solid idea of one’s reason for living, everything else becomes irrelevant. Do you have enough money in your pocket? Are you suffering from a broken relationship? Does it constantly bother you what will happen next in your life? All these suffering and uncertainties mean close to none in front of a man who knows his reason for living.
Empowering one to move forward, the reason for living is at the heart of making things happen for us. Of course, it would only be natural for one to want this reason for living. But the question is this – how do I find one?
Identifying one’s reason for living is truly a gigantic task. Many of us nowadays swim in the comfort of the familiar. Instead of seeking an authentic life, a life where one is fully in control, the masses have allowed themselves to be consumed by the feeling of safety in conformity. In exchange for their own liberty and freedom, those who surrender themselves to the collective enjoy the joys of the modern world.
But for someone who understands about the nature of how and why we live, this definitely won’t do. Because we are beings capable of knowing ourselves, it necessarily entails that a part of us will always be curious. With that, we ask – what is my life purpose?
While there can be many ways to understand one’s life purpose, it is usually a task that challenges us to go out of our comfort zones. But how do we know the answer to this question?
One way to respond is through dreams.
Given how these dreams are both reflective of our conscious and unconscious thoughts, they potentially contain rich material which can tell us a lot about ourselves! As these dreams contain symbols and meanings, such content can possibly inspire us to create something.
Furthermore, by carefully examining the meaning of these dreams, we are also opening ourselves to some newfound meaning. Instead of simply relying on what we know or what others tell us, these dreams will enlighten us on other possible perspectives.
As it shows aspects that we both like and don’t like, understanding our dreams remains to be an indispensable task. Just like the growth of a caterpillar, there are phases in it where it needs to shed-off its old self to find the new one. Given how dreams are able to bring to light our shadows (or the repressed aspects of ourselves), such is necessary for human development.
With that, dreams are definitely a pathway of understanding ourselves. Through it, we can possibly unravel our life’s purpose on top of illuminating aspects of ourselves that can be improved or empowered.
The Dream Journal
Knowing more about one’s dreams necessarily entails a long process. Meaning, in interpreting a symbol or imagery that happened to pass by, it is not enough for you to simply look at its textbook definition and interpret then and there.
Instead, keeping track of them will give you a broader perspective about things. Like a detective who has a web of information about their targets, your dreams can be stitched together and form one cohesive whole.
For instance, you’ve had recurring dreams about animals. But because these animals vary in shape and type, interpreting them separately may further confuse you. Instead, the way to go is to keep track of these animals in your dreams and leave them for further interpretation.
You can do this by making your own dream journal.
Simply put, doing a dream journal is not much different from making your own personal journal notebook. Just like in the latter, you are to record details that you found significant and indicate the time and date of each. The only difference is that in a dream journal, you are recording what happened in the dream state.
With that, here are five simple yet essential tips in recording your dreams!
1. Do them right away and religiously
Dream journal can be quite tricky at first. Whereas it is easy for you to recall a dream that just happened, it is often the case that you forget it a few minutes after.
Given that these images occur within you during sleep, it is only natural that you don’t have that same level of retention during dream state. As a matter of fact, the segments that we recall in our dreams are only fractions of the actual dream itself. Whereas we can remember a few key moments, the actual dream itself was way lengthier.
With that, it is crucial that if you want to focus on dream recording, you have to do it in a swift and consistent manner. Because dreams are easily lost, it pays to keep a notebook near you, ensuring that it is the first thing you’ll grab the moment you wake-up.
Doing this as a routine will not only make sure that you get to have a better grasp of yourself but also, it makes dream recognition as part of your system.
2. Wake up naturally
Waking up naturally is also quite a task to achieve. Remember that last moment you slept and woke up because you’ve conditioned your body to wake up hours earlier for a trip? Well, this second tip sounds similar to that experience.
In this modern era, the task of waking up is something that we’ve come to rely on gadgets and alarms. As that annoying beep rings from your smartphone, you are telling your body to wake up as a conditioned response.
While this can be an effective way to do it, such method naturally disrupts the whole flow of dreams. Sometimes, the alarm can occur in the middle of the dream state, blocking any progress of the symbols as they unravel themselves to you.
Thus, if you are dead serious in learning more about yourself through your dreams, then it pays to train your body to wake up on its own. In this way, you won’t be disrupting the flow of ideas in your dream state.
3. Alphabetically list the elements in your dreams
Although not required, alphabetically listing the elements in your dreams will also allow you to scoop more in the dream state. Just like grabbing a bowl of popcorn, the bigger the cup, the more popcorn you can grab. With regard to our dreams, the same principle necessarily applies.
By making sure that you are using systematic approaches with your dreams, you’ll know that you are getting more out of each experience. As such, one way to effectively do this is by recording alphabetically since it will be much easier for you to recall the symbols instead of only the few key moments in your dreams.
Furthermore, listing them alphabetically will allow you to interpret the meaning of each symbol independently. While we advocate a holistic approach, it also pays to do things this way since individual interpretation will allow you to stitch the meanings later on, depending on the theme of the dream.
As such, each element, symbol, or image is given justice instead of simply pointing out the general theme of the whole experience.
4. Use the method that suits you the most
Traditionally, a dream journal must be written in a notebook. As such, the moment you wake up, you’ll be grabbing that special pen and paper and will enter the key moments in it.
But nowadays, this method isn’t always the most effective. With the advent of tape recorders and even smartphones, not all of us are accustomed to making the traditional pen and paper approach. As a matter of fact, even universities can sometimes switch to iPads instead of hardbound books for school content.
With that, the dawn of technology is truly upon us. Influencing almost every aspect of human experience, these innovations can bring efficiency and effectivity in the way we do things.
Similarly, the same principle applies in the way we do dream recording. By making use of smartphones, mobile notes, and the like, you might be more comfortable for it is something that you’re used to. Doing such will allow you to scoop more about your dreams.
5. Let it go
Finally, the last tip that we’re giving out for dream journaling is the act of letting it go. As dreams happen to us during sleep, more often than not, they are unconscious or subconscious states of mind. Meaning, we are not really in control during dream state.
By accepting this, we are practically letting it go. As we experience dreams, we allow them to occur and flow, just as how the water runs down the stream. Instead of mechanically manipulating things to happen, this water-like approach will allow us to get the real symbols and images that we want.
Why are we stressing this? In your journey with your dreams, you may easily be tempted to do what we call as projection. By actively thinking things and forcing your mind to think of a particular scenario during the dream state, you can somehow influence the kind of images that will appear there.
For instance, you may force yourself to keep on thinking about a particular person, hoping that you’ll dream of him/her. While this can be a fun experience, it is not as organic as having a natural dream.
Thus, the symbols that will appear are induced, nonetheless. Such makes the whole experience less authentic than it is.
With that, we’ve given you an introductory grasp to dream journaling. By focusing your energies on being able to properly record your dreams, you’ll be able to unravel more. As each dream contains a meaning that is unique yet connected in some way, properly tracking them will allow you to gain a more accurate interpretation of it.
Lastly, just remember that doing this is also for self-discovery. As each dream reveals a part of ourselves to ourselves, including this in your acts of spirituality is truly an indispensable move. By making sure that you have the right reasons for doing dream journaling, you’ll be able to do it in a consistent and efficient manner for it will be the main moving force which will compel you to do this on a daily basis. As you realize this point, you’ll master dream tracking and journaling in no time!
Chris is an editor at Individualogist.com – a community made up of archetype fanatics, individuation practitioners, and spirituality fans. Our humble group has banded together to deliver thought-provoking, life-changing, and growth-probing wisdom.