Our dreams are like gateways to another world, where fiction and fantasy blend with our personal narratives. And one of the best ways we can keep track of our dreams is by engaging in a daily dream journaling habit.
Sometimes they’re terrifying, but most of the time they are strange and wonderful stories that unfold like movies in our minds as we sleep.
The mysteries of dreams have been the focus of storytelling and myths for all of history. Humankind has always been fascinated by the seemingly magical world that we enter as we sleep. In fact, many ancient cultures believed that our souls visit other worlds while our bodies rest, and dreams are memories of those travels.
Spiritual theories aside, what we do know is that dreams are an excellent way to get to know yourself. By connecting with your dream world, you open up the opportunity to investigate and explore the infinite creative possibilities of your mind. When those doors open, you then have the power to make positive changes and live a healthier, richer life.
In this article, we’re going to talk about how keeping a dream journal is the best way to connect to your dream world. We’ll discuss the benefits of recalling and recording your dreams, and we’ll give you tips to help you institute a daily dream journaling habit.
But first, let’s talk about what’s really going on when you dream.
What Are Dreams?
Dreams are the product of your subconscious mind. Your brain receives, processes, and transmits information in two ways.
The first way, which makes up a small percentage of your brainpower (less than 10%) is through your conscious mind. In your conscious mind, you are actively aware of what’s going on.
On the other hand, your subconscious mind processes everything else. Everything you sense (that you don’t realize you sense) and everything you think and feel, mostly happens in your subconscious mind.
Your subconscious mind is also where dreams take place. When you dream, your conscious awareness takes a break, and your subconscious mind takes over, playing out your desires, hopes, fears, and ideas in a symphony of symbols and imagery.
When you recall your dreams, you are using your conscious awareness to connect the two parts of your mind together. You essentially take the visions and sensations that happened in your dream and bring them from your subconscious into your conscious mind.
The Benefits of Dream Recall
Bridging your conscious and subconscious minds together has enormous benefits.
Since most of your consciousness is in the subconscious mind (95% of your brainpower), most of you are in there too.
So if you really want to get to know yourself and discover things like what makes you truly happy or what fears may be holding you back, use a dream journal to build a bridge between the two parts of your mind.
When you do this, there are two really extraordinary benefits.
1. Explore different parts of your mind
Connecting the two parts of your mind together creates a gateway to explore areas of your mind that are usually inaccessible to you. This can be really exciting, fun, and open up parts of your mind that you didn’t even know existed.
2. Get insights on hidden parts of yourself
Connecting the two parts of your mind together through dream journaling gives you vast insight into hidden parts of yourself. You may have heard these parts referred to as “shadows,” and they hold a wealth of information about your desires and fears.
One of the greatest ways to explore your dream world is through a technique called lucid dreaming.
As you start dream journaling, you may begin experiencing lucid dreams. A lucid dream is simply one in which you are aware you are dreaming. Typically, you only recall your dreams as memories, but when you lucid dream, you experience them in real-time.
Lucid dreaming can be a lot of fun and very insightful. When you wake up, since you experienced the dreams in real-time, your dream recall will be very vivid and detailed. Sensations like smell and taste are stronger in lucid dreams, so your dreams will become more of a visceral experience.
Keeping a dream journal helps you lucid dream because it builds a relationship between your subconscious and conscious mind. As you get used to recording the symbols, imagery, and memories of your dreams, your conscious mind recognizes the patterns that make up a dream. So when you dream each night, your conscious mind is more likely to recognize those patterns and bring your awareness to your dream.
Law of Attraction
Another advantage of keeping a dream journal is that it helps you manifest your desires.
This happens because of a universal law called the Law of Attraction, which states that “like attracts like.” In other words, whatever it is you focus on, think about, and feel will be attracted to you. So, if you think or feel positive things, more positive things will come into your life.
Connecting with your dreams empowers your Law of Attraction practice because it’s difficult to manifest your desires if you’re not really sure what your desires are, or what your fears are (fears that may be in the way of attracting your desires into your life). Your subconscious mind holds all the answers, and your dreams are the best way to investigate and navigate this part of your mind.
As you start writing in your dream journal, you’ll notice that your greatest fears and desires will become more clear. When this happens, you can begin to conquer those fears and focus in on your desires. Because of the Law of attraction, doing so will attract your desires into your life.
Everything is energy, and that is all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.– Albert Einstein
How to Start a Dream Journal (3 Simple Steps)
Starting a dream journal is simple — just follow the steps below, and you’ll be in the habit in no time.
1. Build a routine and do it every day
The most important thing to keep in mind is that it takes 21 days to build a habit.
If you can find the motivation to write in your journal every single day for a month, you’ll build the habit and it will become second nature to you.
2. Find a method that works best for you
What you write down and how you write it depends on what works for you. Here are some methods to try:
- Keep a notebook and pen on your nightstand, and write down every detail you can remember from your dreams as soon as you wake up in the morning. For example, “I was in the house I grew up in, and my grandmother was there. She was wearing a red dress and a big blue hat.”
- Write down keywords from your dream instead of all the details. For example, childhood home, grandma, big hat, red dress, and so on.
- Draw pictures that represent the images you saw in your dreams. Don’t worry if you’re not an artist, this isn’t for anyone but you, so just draw whatever you saw.
- Buy an inexpensive voice recorder and keep it by your bedside. As soon as you wake up, narrate everything you remember from your dream. Before you go to sleep again at night, listen to the recording and write it down in your dream journal.
- Use the voice memo on your phone to record yourself talking about the dream, and then use a text-to-speech app to transcribe it.
3. Experiment with different techniques
Don’t be discouraged if you wake up in the morning, and can’t remember your dream. Here are some techniques to improve your dream recall.
- Write down/record everything you can remember as soon as you wake up. Stay in bed, and embrace being still sleepy. Don’t check your email in bed or do anything that engages your awake mind.
- Set your alarm 30-60 minutes before you usually wake up. We dream a lot in the morning, so this technique can actually wake you up in the middle of a dream, which is a great way to bring that dream to your conscious awareness. Don’t worry, you can go back to sleep once you’re done documenting the dream.
- Use a voice recorder and say as little as possible. Instead of trying to recall all the details of the dream, just speak a few keywords that you can use to recall the dream later when you fully wake up.
Tips For Keeping A Dream Journal
Look for patterns
Once you’ve got at least two weeks of dreams or 10-20 dreams recorded, go back and read through what you’ve written or recorded.
If you notice any repeated colors, images, or themes, make a note of them and see if you can figure out what they represent. The subconscious mind speaks in symbols, so it might take a little bit of investigating to understand the meaning of your dreams.
As time goes by and you get used to writing in your dream journal, this analysis will become much easier. Don’t be distressed if you feel completely lost in the weird symbols at first. It gets easier.
Trust your intuition (not dream symbol dictionaries)
Many people immediately turn to dream symbol dictionaries when they want to discover what the symbols in their dreams mean. Unfortunately, no symbol means the same thing for everyone, so it’s better to just use your intuition.
For example, a popular dream image is that of a snake. Many dream dictionaries will say this is a sexual symbol, while older symbol dictionaries will say this is a symbol of transformation and power.
For you, a snake might just be something you’re really afraid of, or perhaps it represents someone that you think is particularly sleepy or manipulative.
Don’t trust symbol definitions on the internet or in a book. More often than not, your intuition will give you the right answer.
Make conscious connections
Writing down your dreams every day is a very powerful practice, but you can make it even more powerful by making an effort to investigate your dream symbols.
When you discover a desire or fear in your dream, make it a point to write down that realization and meditate on it.
Take a few minutes each day, and maybe half an hour each week to sit with the symbols and feelings from your dreams. Making a conscious effort will make the bridge between your subconscious and conscious mind even stronger.