Have you ever woken up from a dream that felt like the plot of a blockbuster movie or something enlightening, like a conversation with God? But the moment you tried to recall it, it vanished into thin air.
Losing such vivid dreams can be frustrating. But that’s where keeping a dream journal can be useful.
You can capture those fleeting dream memories and gain valuable insights into your subconscious mind. And the more you practice journaling your dreams, the more you’ll find that it’s a powerful tool for your personal growth and self-discovery.
What Is a Dream Journal?
A dream journal is a tool for recording and interpreting your dreams.
According to Jim Kwik, brain performance expert and trainer of Mindvalley’s Superbrain Quest, your dreams are underutilized assets that you have. And when you’re able to harness the power of your dreams, it can have a huge impact on your waking life.
“Everything that you learn during the day is being processed at night,” he says. “So while you’re dreaming, you actually get the solutions to your problems, inventions, and works of art to be created.”
On top of that, a dream journal is an essential tool for developing lucid dreaming skills—the ability to become aware that you are dreaming while you are still in the dream state.
According to Charlie Morley, a globally celebrated lucid dreaming teacher and trainer of Mindvalley’s Experience Lucid Dreaming Quest, a dream journal can identify recurring dream signs or patterns that can trigger lucidity and help you gain control over your dreams.
Examples of Dream Journals
Dream journals come in all shapes and forms, from traditional paper journals to digital apps and voice recordings. Let’s explore some paper and digital examples to help you start yours:
1. John DuBois’ Dream Journal
John DuBois is a dream researcher who dedicated a journal specifically to recording his dreams. What’s interesting about his work is that he divided his dreams into themes.
His personal recommendation is to use symbols and codes to quickly jot down dream details, as well as draw or sketch any visual elements that come to mind.
2. Rob Vincent’s Dream Journal
This is another paper dream journal example that’s perfect for a beginner—well-organized by date and time, with concise log entries. Vincent suggests writing in the present tense and including as much detail as possible.
3. Andy Zaitsev’s Dream Journal
Created by a software developer and lucid dreaming enthusiast, he uses the app to track his dreams, set dream goals, and even analyze his sleep patterns. He also includes images and diagrams to help visualize his dreams.
What’s more, his journal is a collection of dreams with many categories, nice tabulations, and references you can draw inspiration from.
4. The Elder Dreams
It’s more than a mere tool for self-reflection. It’s a lucid dreaming community where lucid dreamers explore the world of the collective unconscious. The journal also features dream art, stories, and interpretations from people all over the world.
When choosing a dream journal, focus on your personal preferences, needs, and dream goals you aspire to achieve.
Benefits of Having a Dream Journal
From improving your emotional well-being to elevating your spiritual life, this practice is abundant in benefits. Here are some dream journal benefits, backed up by science:
1. Improved memory
The point of dream journaling is to recall more of your dreams. And as you recall more of them, you flex your memory muscles. Think of it as “expressive writing” when you write about your dream adventures.
Scientists have found that it increases your working memory capacity. On top of that, if you suffer from nightmares, it will reduce intrusive thinking about this unpleasant experience.
2. Better self-awareness
Self-awareness is about knowing yourself inside and out—not only your brightest sides but also your shadows. Now imagine that you can add subconscious and unconscious material to it.
This is what keeping a record of your dreams can do for you. By tapping into your unconscious mind, you increase your self-awareness.
Dreams are an invaluable source of insightful solutions to problems or challenges you are facing in your waking life. When you record them long enough, you can identify patterns that can serve as cues for the issues you are struggling with.
Interestingly enough, if you lucid dream, your dream characters can provide you with plausible creative advice, according to science.
4. Emotional healing
Dreams express the experience of the body and mind, particularly traumatic experiences that are dissociated, according to Dr. Stephen Aizenstat, the founder of Dream Tending, Pacifica Graduate Institute, and the Academy of Imaginal Arts and Sciences. At the same time, they provide a safe space to process your unwanted feelings and heal those traumas.
Charlie explains that dream journaling is also a form of therapy in itself, helping you work through emotional issues.
5. Reduced stress
Dream journaling as a form of expressive writing can also help reduce stress by providing an outlet for processing our emotions and thoughts.
A 2002 study found that it can lead to reduced levels of stress and an improved mood.
6. Boosted creativity
Elias Howe is the inventor of the sewing machine. He came up with the idea after dreaming about being captured by a group of cannibals who held him captive and used spears with holes in the pointed end.
In the same way, it can inspire a hidden source of creativity in you.
How to Keep a Dream Journal
Charlie explains that keeping a dream diary is the first step to remembering your dreams because writing them down makes them valuable. Here are his six tips for keeping a dream diary:
- Document as much of the dream as you can.
- Focus on the main themes and feelings, main narratives, or strange details.
- Dedicate five to ten minutes daily.
- Use whatever tool you like to keep a dream diary.
- Write something down in your journal, even if you don’t remember your dream.
- Start where you are at the moment and keep moving.
As for Jim, here are his six tips for remembering your dreams:
- Decide in advance that you’re going to remember your dream.
- Record your dreams by writing them down or recording them as audio.
- Keep your eyes closed when you wake up to prevent a dream from vanishing.
- Eliminate negative self-talk and replace it with empowering affirmations like, “I have empowering dreams” or “I remember my dreams.”
- Manage your sleep by getting off your screens before bed, sleeping in complete darkness, and practicing meditation.
- Share your dreams with other people.
Both Charlie and Jim suggest keeping your journal by your bed and writing in it consistently to improve recall and gain insight into your subconscious. These simple steps can help you unlock the mysteries of your inner world and beyond.
Turning a Habit Into a Life-Changing Transformation
Dream journaling is a powerful practice of expressive writing that, once turned into a habit, can open up new dimensions of yourself and the world around you.
Believe it or not, you can take it to the next level:
- By joining Charlie Morley’s Experience Lucid Dreaming Quest, you will learn how to use a dream diary to kickstart your lucid dreaming journey, and
- By joining Jim Kwik’s Superbrain Quest, you will improve your memory to remember your dreams, people’s names, important dates, and even foreign words.
These learning experiences will unlock much more than the benefits of a habit and put you on an absolutely new trajectory of success and well-being.
Want a sneak peek? Sign up for a free account and get access to the first lessons from these quests. Does it sound like you’re dreaming? We bet you are not.
Featured image generated on Midjourney.