The Benefits of Keeping A Dream Journal
Maintaining a diary of daily events is a very common practice. Perhaps you already find benefit in keeping this type of record. Some people simply enjoy the process of putting their daily thoughts on paper. Some enjoy reading their old entries and others use a journal to keep track of their progress in certain areas.
Just as there are a multitude of reasons for keeping a standard diary there are also several benefits that can be obtained through keeping a record of your dreams. This web page will explain some ways in which you can gain those benefits as well as provide tips for keeping your own dream journal.
The Practice of Recording Your Dreams
The first place to start when embarking upon Dreamwork (integrating your dream life into your spiritual practice) is to develop your dream recall. If you can't remember your dreams you won't have much to work with. Also, there is little sense in trying to develop dream lucidity (the ability to recognize when you are in the dream state and to gain a greater level of control over the experience) if you aren't going to remember it. Greater dream recall in itself helps develop lucidity. It does this by breaking down the natural memory barrier between your waking state and dreaming state. When you develop your ability to remember your dreams while waking, you are simultaneously developing your ability to remember your waking life while dreaming.
There are a number of things you can do to improve your dream recall. The foundational technique is to record all the dreams which you remember. Not only does this create an excellent companion to your personal and magical journals (if you keep them), it also sends the message to your unconscious mind that remembering dreams is important. If you keep this practice up, you will find yourself remembering more and more dreams. I've gone through periods where I would remember an average of 5 dreams every night. Sometimes I would remember up to 8 or 9 dreams in just one normal night of sleeping. This can be a lot of writing but the record/journal doesn't need to be written out. I've found it useful to keep a voice recorder by the bed and dictate my dreams upon awakening. This is especially helpful when you wake up in the middle of the night and don't feel like turning on the lights. I have even reviewed these tapes upon awakening and found records of dreams that I didn't remember experiencing or describing. A lot of voice recorders available now allow you to transfer the audio files to your computer, which can then be archived on a physical DVD or other data storage device.
There are many other benefits to having a dream journal beyond improving your recall. It can be used to compile a list of your most frequently experienced dream symbols (events, characters, settings, etc...) The items on this list can be used as triggers for lucidity. You simply train yourself to question your state ("Am I dreaming right now?") whenever you encounter any of the items on the list. You are eventually going to do this while encountering the item within a dream. At first you may conclude that you are not dreaming but with practice and especially with sincere questioning of your state you will "awaken" (gain lucidity) within your dreams.
Dreamwork Introduction - Preparing Yourself
shares some techniques and opinions on lucid dreaming based on experience. Dream journals are important for a few reasons. State testing is a useful habit to develop. Convincing yourself that you could be dreaming at any given time. The nature of experience itself. The hologram generator. Left Hand Path perspective on dreamwork.
Reclaiming Time through Dreamwork
Everyone's body and mind works a bit differently however we can focus on the common factors and discuss generalities. Most people are much more likely to remember vivid dreams if they are awoken during the phase of sleep characterized by rapid eye movement (REM.) We typically spend about a third of our sleeping time in the REM phase. If you average 6 hours of sleep every night you can reasonably assume that you are in REM for about 2 hours of that. If we only consider the raw numbers, these hours spent dreaming add up to a full month (30.4 days at 24 hours per day) out of every year. If you consider how much personal free time you get per day the numbers are even more dramatic. The average individual living in an industrialized nation spends about 45 hours/week earning a living (including travel time), 30 hours/week asleep and 25 hours/week eating and maintaining personal hygeine. That's 100 hours every week that are already occupied. Free time works out to almost 10 hours each day. With this in mind, consistantly reclaiming 2 hours/day will result in the equivalent of about 2.5 months worth of extra free time every year. In other words every 5 years are worth more like 6 years.
Perhaps you are asking yourself how you can benefit from your 2 hours of dream time each night. The answer depends on how much effort you put into it and how passionate you are about giving your dreaming experiences a meaningful role in your life. To start with, simply becomming aware of your dream life is a way to reclaim that time. If you forget two hours of experience every day, you get nothing out of it. If you can at least remember more of your dreams, then you have gained those experiences.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via my Google account.
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