Category Archives: Dream How To’s

B is for Bedroom

The ABCs of a Better Night’s Sleep

If you want to sleep better, begin with the basics. Your bedroom doesn’t need to be beautiful to ensure a good night’s sleep, but putting some thought into making your bed and its environs cozy and calm is certainly beneficial. Here are a few suggestions to help make improving your sleep environment a breeze:

"The Bedroom" Van Gogh

“The Bedroom” Van Gogh

  • Eliminate clutter to make your bedroom feel relaxed and spacious.
  • Remove distractions like televisions or computers, as well as any reminders of work or finances that might trigger stressful thoughts.
  • Use heavy curtains or shades to eliminate as much light as possible. A dark room is essential for a good night’s sleep.
  • Backlit digital clocks and electronic equipment all emit light. Limit or eliminate the number of light sources in the room.
  • Switch your cell phone to “airplane mode” so that it doesn’t send and receive signals while you sleep. This will eliminate the possibility of being woken by a text message or call, but will allow you to use the phone’s alarm clock, as well as the voice memo feature to record your dreams.
  • Check your mattress and pillows. Are they still comfortable? If not, it may be time to replace them.
  • Candles, incense, and some decorative cozy pillows can give your room a cozy, inviting feel.
  • Use a lavender-scented eye pillow to help you relax into sleep.

Today’s blog post was brought to you by the letter B…

So that you might dream and be well!



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The “A List” for Dreamers

Dreamwork: From As to Zs

There are many lofty things I can (and do) say about dreams, starting with the fact that dreamwork is a great way to keep connected with your soul. And yet, I don’t claim to know exactly what the soul is. We can’t see it, smell it, or measure it–and yet we sense that it is there.

I can feel mine when I’m praying with others in synagogue, or when I read a poem so beautiful it makes me cry, or when I listen to the crickets singing at night (as I’m doing right now) and I grow very still inside and feel inexplicably happy.

But if I’m not paying attention, it’s just as easy to forget about the soul’s needs and get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Dreams, however, provide a nightly window into the workings of the soul. Dreams let us know if we’re neglecting our inner selves, if we’re straying off course from our soul’s journey, or if our souls are feeling properly fed and watered.

So it’s worth taking a few minutes before bed to prepare for a good night of dreaming. You can do that by addressing what I call the “A List.” These are 5 areas (conveniently all beginning with the letter A) that touch on different aspects of our soulful selves. In your journal before you switch off the light to go to sleep, answer these “A List” questions:

  • APPRECIATION: Did I feel gratitude and show appreciation today? What do I feel grateful for right now
  • ADORATION: Have I felt love, awe, or reverence for something today? What did I miss that I might have expressed these emotions toward had I been paying closer attention?
  • ATONEMENT: Where did I fall short of my intentions to be my best self today? Do I owe anyone an apology? Do I need to ask myself for forgiveness?
  • ANTICIPATION: What am I looking forward to about tomorrow? Can I feel the joy of anticipation in my heart as I look ahead with optimism?
  • ASK FOR IT: Bedtime is the ideal time to pose a question to your wisest self, God, the divine, or the universe. You can ask for guidance about a problem, insight into a pressing issue, or you can simply request a restful night’s sleep. Ask anything you want. Write your question in your journal, and watch for an answer in your dreams, or in the thoughts that come to you when you wake in the morning.

When you’re done with your “A List” writing prompts, turn off the light and settle in for some well-earned Z’s.


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Dream Journal as Magic Tracker

Another reason to write down your dreams

It happens to me in big and small ways: I dream about an acquaintance I haven’t thought of, let alone seen, in months or years, and the next day I bump into him at the grocery store. Or, I dream I see a little girl carrying a metal bowl shaped like a kidney bean, and then next day I see a child of the same age balancing just such a bowl in her hands. Sometimes it’s a dream of a place I’ve never seen, but then stumble upon, or of a stranger who tells me something, that days or weeks later I hear someone else tell me in waking life.

This isn’t as “out there” as it may at first seem. As someone who works with dreams professionally, I find myself talking about dreams with people from all walks of life, including accountants, engineers, carpenters, doctors, and more—and even those who say they don’t believe in things they can’t put their hands on will often admit that there was this one time that they had such an inexplicable experience. It’s probably happened to you, too: Something from a dream pops up in waking life, and you feel a little jolt of recognition.

So, why not be prepared? Keeping a dream journal is one way to track the magic in your dreams.

Exhibit A: The Dream Report

The written dream report helps us document extraordinary dream events such as precognition (knowing something before it happens), synchronicity, and mutual dream experiences with others (two or more people have the same dream or dream elements on the same night), by providing a dated, and written record of what we dream.

So, go ahead and write those dreams down. And when you do, follow these guidelines:

  • Always write the date at the top of the page.
  • Give your dreams a title, and make a sketch or drawing when words just won’t do. Titles and sketches also help you locate dreams more easily when you’re trying to find the one that proves your point.
  • Keeping your dream journal electronically (on your laptop or tablet, etc.) has pluses and minuses. But when it comes to finding a particular dream, the search capabilities can’t be beat.
  • When you do have an instance of precognition, clairvoyance, or any extraordinary dream experience, mark it in your dream journal. I make notations in the margin, or you can keep a running index at the back of the journal noting the date, dream title, and nature of the event.
  • And most of all, have fun doing it. There may well be ordinary explanations for what we dreamers call extraordinary, from selective perception to the law of chance. But either way, being on the lookout for patterns, meaning, and magic, tends to lead to a life filled with beautiful patterns, meaning, and magic—so why not!


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How to Listen So Your Dreams Will Talk

Conversation? What conversation?

In a previous post I discussed the importance of writing down your dreams … But what if you’re sitting down with your journal, ready to receive the wisdom of your dreams, and they don’t show up? In short, you’ve decided to listen to your dreams, but they’re not talking.

When people tell me they don’t remember their dreams, I ask what they think about dreams in general. Usually they say they think dreams are meaningless, or just plain bizarre and not worthy of their attention. Maybe they had a soul-shaking nightmare, and they don’t want any more of those. As a result, they close their eyes and ignore everything that happens from when their head hits the pillow to when the alarm wakes them in the morning.

In short, they’re not listening to their dreams. And now, the dreams aren’t talking.

Face it: Most of us don’t treat our dreams with the respect and consideration we show to a stranger on the bus—let alone a close friend. Too often we wake up, bolt out of bed, and let our dreams wash down the drain with the shower water. And then we wonder why we no longer remember any of them.

A good way to remedy this situation is to think of dreams like a dinner companion; they don’t enjoy a one-sided conversation. Who does? And if you stop listening to this person, after a period of time, they will simply stop talking.(Or in this case, the dreams dry up).

Or maybe the person in question responds to your lack of attention by telling you the same story over and over, hoping that eventually you’ll listen. (Enter the recurring dream, the one you have again and again each time you close your eyes.)

Either way, one day this person will really need to get your attention because maybe they see you are about to hurt yourself, or hurt someone else. So, they start talking really loudly, yelling even, until you can’t help but pay attention. (That’s when you wake drenched with sweat and shaking to the core because you’ve just had a heart-thumping scream-choked nightmare.)

But you’re still not listening and now you’ve got a really good excuse. “Why should I pay attention to my dreams?” you ask, “They’re either full of nonsense or they scare the daylights out of me.”

That’s when you decide to put the pillow over your ear and ignore those dreams.

Now, if this conversational pattern were happening between a husband and wife over time, we’d suggest couples counseling, wouldn’t we? And the first thing the counselor would likely do is to help these two learn to listen to each other.

Happily, developing a more productive relationship with your dreams isn’t as complicated as fixing a damaged relationship, and you’ll never have to buy your dreams a dozen roses to get them talking again. You nurture a healthy relationship with your dreams by adopting these simple habits:

  • Before you go to bed quiet your mind with meditation or relaxing music, or by reading something soothing;

  • Keep a notebook and pencil by your bed (or a voice recorder) to record your dreams with;

  • When you wake up, spend a moment in stillness and silence before you get out of bed in order to allow any dream memories to come to you.

  • If you remember a dream or dream snippet, write it down, sketch it, or tell it to a friend.

If you pay even this much attention to your dreams, before you know it you’ll begin to recall more of them, and the dreams you have will gain clarity and resonance with the issues you are dealing with in your daily life. It might just be the start of a beautiful relationship—with yourself!

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The Dream Journal: An Essential Tool for Dreamers

Dream Journal Basics, Step by StepIMG_2728

The dream journal, whether you keep yours in a notebook or in a computer file, is the most useful tool you have when you set out to examine your dreams.

Since a dream is not a tangible artifact that you can hold onto and examine, the dream report in your journal is the closest you can come to preserving the dream for future study. So, the first step is to get the dream down on paper. Each morning take a few minutes to record your dreams in as much detail as possible.

Use your dream journal as a field scientist would. Bring the qualities of observation and curiosity to your dream, just as a botanist would bring these qualities to the study of a rare or beautiful plant. Here’s how:

  • Adopt the scientist’s attitude of objectivity and curiosity when you record your dreams.
  • Consider the the Basic W’s: Record who you were with in your dream, what you were doing, when the dream seemed to take place (time of day and season), where it took place.
  • Check in with your five senses: What did you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel in the dream? Experiencing smell and taste in dreams is less common than seeing and hearing—but be alert to the possibility of all sensory experiences, nonetheless.

Dream Journal Tips:

DO: tell the whole story of the dream in as much detail as possible.

DON’T: analyze, interpret, associate, or editorialize just yet. Dreams have a way of slipping from memory within minutes after waking.  So first get the detailed dream report down on the page. Once you do, you have preserved the dream for further study, and you may choose to delve into its possible meanings and messages.


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The Dream Journey from Overgrown to Growthful (A Corner View* Post)

The untended garden

Recently a client brought me a dream in which an unkempt man, who the client described as repulsive, stormed into his home and found the dreamer’s garden untended and overgrown. In the dream, my client was furious at the interloper and also ashamed of the state of his garden.

But as we stayed with the dream and welcomed the intruder into our dream replay using active imagination, my client saw that this dream character was asking him to accept his own imperfections and embrace a more laissez faire attitude, rather than clinging to his impossible-to-meet, joy-crushing standards.

If we look at the antagonists in our dreams: The shadowy figures who give chase, the animals who bare their teeth, and even the environments that threaten to choke, drown, or bury us, we’ll find great teachers.

In this case the client looked at the situation from different angles, including the intruder’s point of view and even the garden’s point of view. Stepping into the unkempt man’s shoes, my client was able to see that despite his imperfections, this man was not ashamed of his appearance—in fact he was full of confidence.

As for the garden, it was simply doing what it enjoyed doing: Growing and creating life!

Unintended growthSunflower faces

Now the dreamer looked at his own character as reflected in the dream. Rather than being ashamed of his perceived laziness, the dreamer came to understand that he was taking a much-needed rest. Sure, he’d get around to weeding, but first he needed to accept the state of affairs as they were, and to see the positive aspects of what he reflexively judged as a problem.

Looked at with curiosity, and without judgment, our dreams can help us soften our resistance and consider new points of view. When we do this, we nurture the seeds of self-love, we create a sense of inner expansiveness and we make room for previously rejected, abandoned, or misunderstood parts of ourselves. In this frame of mind, it is easier—and more joyful—to pick up the hoe and go about our work of tending our inner—and outer—gardens.

Apply this principle to even the most mundane dream and the results can be soul-shaking—and delightfully growthful.


Learn more about how to develop A Mindful & Yogic way to sleep, dream, and live better at these upcoming workshops:Weds. July 22, 6:30 p.m. at VegaYoga in Holyoke, Mass.and November 12-15 at Sivananda Ashram and Yoga Retreat in the Bahamas.

Want to learn more about your dreams? Contact me to find out about upcoming dream groups in western Massachusetts, or individual dream sessions by phone, Skype, or in person.

*Corner View* is a weekly appointment – each Wednesday, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. This week’s theme is “Overgrown.”


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Strike a (Dream) Pose

To learn more about the Yoga of Dreams join me Weds. July 22, 6:30 p.m. for a workshop in Holyoke, Mass. (See post for details!)

All the Snooze That's Fit to Print

The Yoga of Dreams

In Yoga, postures are physical poses that we practice for improved health and over all well-being.

Dreamwork, too is a practice to help us improve our health and well being. Bringing conscious awareness to our dreams means paying attention to how we go to sleep, what we dream, how we wake up, and how we respond to our dreams in our waking lives.

Posture refers not only to how we carry our body, but the word posture also refers to a spiritual attitude. In that sense, conscious dreaming is also about posture—in the sense that it’s about the position we take toward sleep and dreaming. In particular, it is a mindful approach to entering dreams in order to align with our true self and our divine aspirations.

In dreamwork we pay attention to our dreams to further our commitment to self-study and self-reflection. As a result we develop more mental…

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