Category Archives: Dream Journal

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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Who said that? The Conversation with Dreams Continues

What exactly is the source of our dreams? Is it our Subconscious? Is it Deep Intuition? Divine Consciousness? Is it God? While some scientists will say dreams are merely the by-product a unique neuro-chemical cocktail that’s stirred up in the dreaming brain, I think they’re more than just that.

I recommend you think of your dreams as a really good pal. You know, the kind of friend who tells you when you’ve got a big gob of spinach stuck between your teeth; the one who will tell you your fly is open or that the shade of orange you’re wearing doesn’t work on you. That’s the kind of friend your dreams are. You won’t always like what you hear, or what they say about how you’ve been behaving out in public these days, but the message is given with love, for your own good, and often with a dollop of humor thrown in for good measure.

Yes, sometimes your dreams will lay it out on the table with painful urgency—but you can trust that there’s loving intent behind the disturbing imagery with which the message may sometimes be delivered. Yup, even that nightmare that shook you awake was meant to help you out, not just to scare you silly.

Whatever the source of dreams, I recommend you listen to them in a way that lets your dreams know you are paying attention, so they, in turn, will show up for you.

Your dream journal is a good place to start.

Open the conversation by putting your journal beside your bed. Before sleep, write down you intention to remember your dreams. And in the morning, write down whatever you recall, whether just a snippet or a lengthy saga. And if you don’t remember your dream, just jot down a sentence or two about the quality of your sleep—that way you let your dreams know you are listening. And when you do, sooner or later, they will begin to speak up so you can hear them.

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The Art of Conversation

What is a thought? “The talk which the soul has with itself.” Or at least, so said Socrates to Theaetetus.

Talking to Yourself—In a Good Way

Let’s face it. If you keep a journal, whether it’s a journal of your dreams or of your waking experiences, you are talking to yourself.

But, your conversations on the page are not the deluded babblings of psychosis. Far from it. When you bring curious attention to your thoughts and dreams (which as I’ve said before are thoughts while you are asleep), you begin some of the most fruitful and empowered discussions of your life.

In his dialogue with Theaetetus, Socrates defines a thought as “the talk which the soul has with itself.” This definition works for me–for both thoughts that come to me asleep (dreams) and awake. I like that this concept joins the mundane (talk) with the mystical (soul).

But a thought alone is not necessarily productive. It is the act of thinking consciously, meaning with alert attention, that can lead us to new ideas and inspiration.

Socrates can help out here, too. He says, “[The soul] when it thinks, is merely conversing with itself, asking itself questions and answering, affirming and denying. When it has arrived at a decision, whether slowly or with a sudden bound, and is at last agreed, and is not in doubt, we call that its opinion; …”

Thinking then becomes a conversation with all parts of ourselves in pursuit of locating and creating beliefs, viewpoints, and attitudes, which in turn lead us to our intentions and actions.

And so in dreamwork, whether in conversation with one another or alone on the pages of our journals, we listen to all of the voices in our inner dialogues, question them, investigate them, and work to bring them into harmony. When we do, we experience an epiphany or insight.

So settle in with a nice cup of tea, your pen, and notebook, and prepare for a riveting conversation–with your best self.

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Recommended Reading: For one of the best books I know on the topic of thinking and writing, get yourself a copy of Writing the Mind Alive, by Linda Trichter Metcalf, PhD and Tobin Simon, PhD.

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Keep a Dream Journal … and Keep Your Friends

Tell it to the Page

Funny thing about dreams: On the one hand, they are gripping, engaging, and endlessly interesting – when they are your own that is.

But when you start to tell them to your bed partner, you might be greeted with the old “Pillow-to-the-Ear” maneuver. That is: Bed partner rolls over, drags pillow over ear, feigns sleep.

Even your beloved, who laughs at all your jokes and asks every evening how your day was—who truly wants to know all about what your crazy co-workers said and did – even he goes glassy-eyed when you say with eager excitement in your voice, “You’ll never believe what I dreamed last night.”

How is it possible that the dream, so intriguing to the one who dreamed it, can inspire fear and dread in friends and loved ones? Let’s face it, whatever the reasons, not everyone is as smitten with their dreams as we are.

What’s the remedy? The longterm plan, of course, is to introduce our friends and family to the deep joys and pleasures of dream sharing. But in the meantime, I recommend to you once more, the virtues of keeping a dream journal. Your notebook or diary won’t fake a bout of snoring when you announce that you’ve just had the strangest dream. It’s always there to listen. And there’s nothing more patient than an empty page.

And then, when you really do have a doozy of a dream that needs your friend or partner’s attention – you have earned the right to pry the pillow from their ear and tell all.

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The Third House Moon Dream Journal is always ready to listen to all your dream, from dream snippets to dream sagas.

Wishing you sweet and healing dreams.

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What did you dream last night? Yes, I really do want to know. At All The Snooze That’s Fit to Print we honor and value dreams and dreamers alike.

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If you are interested in keeping a dream journal, and want to read more on the topic, please see these related posts:

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Tracking a Lifetime in the Pages of a Dream Journal

IMG_1847Unfortunately, my first dream was not recorded at the time it occurred. And there’s a good reason for that: I was 4 years old when I had it, and I didn’t know how to write yet.

Nor did I know that decades into the future I’d still be mulling over that first dream, and rueing the fact that I had no written account of it.

It wasn’t until nearly a decade later that I began recording my dreams. Most likely I got the idea after hearing my mother talk about her new interest in psychotherapy. Her analyst had begun to ask her about her dreams, so she began delving into the unconscious and its mysteries–and my interest was sparked, as well.

Now, keeping a journal is as much a part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth or checking my e-mail. I use it as a tool for self-reflection and intention setting. Without it, I suspect that I’d wander off course from my goals and intentions. I’d be like a sailor who ignores the constellations in the night sky and the gets hopelessly lost on the vast sea.

Before sleep, the journal allows me to pause and reflect on my day, and to see how I can correct my course if need be. Then I can go to bed looking forward to continuing anew the next day.

In the morning I write down my dreams. They allow me to see my emotional landscape in vivid pictures and stories, and they offer what I call a “soul’s-eye view” of my experiences.

By recording both my waking and dreaming experiences, I get a complete picture of my inner and outer worlds. I can follow the journey of my life from that very first dream, to the one I had last night … as well as so many of the experiences that have taken place in between.IMG_2197

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If you are interested in keeping a dream journal, and want to read more on the topic, please see these related posts:

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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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Q&A: So many dreams … so little time …

Q: I know it’s important to write down one’s dreams, but I have so many each night that writing them all down feels like a part-time job. Help!

Signed,

Time Crunched

 

A: Dear Crunched,

Back when I was in my late 20s I worked as a reporter for a regional newspaper. One day our company sponsored a health fair during which representatives from a local hospital took over a couple of the administrative offices. Each of us in turn was called inside where we were pinched with pincers to measure our body fat, had our blood pressure taken, height and weight checked, and were asked a series of questions about our diet and lifestyle. In return we received a report containing recommendations for improving our health. All this in the name of preventative medicine—and, I’m sure, keeping down our group’s insurance rates.

In any case, after being poked and prodded each of us returned to our desk with a dot-matrix printout containing our health profile. One at a time reporters returned to their desks grumbling about being told they had to cut out their morning doughnuts, or cigarettes, and take up walking or table tennis to help them shed a few pounds. When I returned to my desk, I adopted the same exasperated tone as my weary co-workers and announced that according to my health profile my cholesterol levels and weight were too low and I needed to add more butter and eggs to my diet.

Let’s just say I was not the most popular employee on that particular day.

And so, Dear Time Crunched, all those frustrated dreamers out there in the blogosphere who dutifully place pen and notebook by their beds but either sleep poorly and so can’t catch a dream, or wake too quickly to remember much of anything, are just now taking up their tiniest violins to play for you. Wouldn’t they like to have your problem (and mine too, by the way): So many dreams, so little time, as they say. (I believe my grandmother had that catchy phrase stitched onto a needlepoint pillow on her fainting couch … oh, no, on second thought hers said, “So many men, so little time.” But I digress.)

Fear not, My Dear, you have come to the right place. I shall pull myself up to my full Size 4 Stature and stand up for you. Yes, this embarrassment of dream riches is indeed a problem that must be contended with.

Here’s what you can do so you can keep up with your dreams, and still get to work on time, do the dishes, and fit in an hour of wholesome Public Television in the evening:

  • Invoke the 5-Minute Rule: When it’s time to record your dreams, set a timer for five minutes and write what you can before the chime sounds. Imposing time pressure will force you to choose the dreams or images that are most interesting or meaningful to you. Focus on those.
  • Headlining: Consider each dream and give it a headline. List those, and leave the dream details for another time.
  • Night notes: Rather than record your dreams first thing in the morning, wait till bedtime. Time acts as an effective filter, and by nightfall you’ll only remember the most salient dream scenarios and the most important details.
  • In dreams we trust: Sometimes we worry that if we record dreams selectively—we’ll select the wrong ones and miss out on some gem of dream wisdom. Trust that your dreams are gentler and more forgiving than that. If there’s anything important that you’ve missed, it’ll come back around in another dream, another night.

Now that I’ve helped you manage your dreamtime, I hope you’ll dream up some fabulous new activity to keep you busy during those extra hours in the morning. Table tennis anyone?

Dreamily yours,

Tz…

…zzZZZZzzzzzzz

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.

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Q&A: Help for the Forgetful Dreamer

Q: I have a hard time remembering my dreams (I usually remember the nightmares). What can I do to help myself remember my dreams? I might remember part, but it gets foggy within seconds after waking.

Signed,

Forgetful

 

A: Dear Forgetful,

I am a woman of a certain age—No, I’m not being coy, I’d tell you my age, it’s just that I can’t remember it.

But seriously. I am at a time of life when I forget a lot of things in my waking life: Where did I put my keys? My glasses? Oh, is that them on top of my head? The dreams however—those I remember.

So, that’s a little pep talk for you, dear Forgetful One: If I can remember dreams, you can too. It’s also my way of opening this conversation up a bit. In waking life we accept that we remember some things and forget others. But when it comes to dreams, we more or less expect to forget. Scientists tell us that low dream recall is the norm because the brain chemicals that support short-term memory recall are tamped down when we’re dreaming. But there must be more to it than that. After all, in cultures that value dreams, people remember dreams on a regular basis—the way we some of us remember the batting averages of every Red Sox player that ever lived, or lines from favorite movies or songs we haven’t danced to since the days of three-piece white suits and disco balls.

My point is this: In our cultures where dreams are considered bizarre or random occurrences void of meaning, guess what—the general population tends not to remember them.

As for you, my dear Forgetful One, you do remember some dreams. You remember the scary ones. No surprise! When dreams really want to get our attention, they deliver something we’re not likely to forget: Breathless chases, sharp-fanged dogs, and terrifying falls from high mountain passes—no wonder some people don’t want to remember their dreams.

So, kudos to you for wanting to recall more of them, despite the fact that the opening sallies have been a bit disturbing. So, how to remember more dreams? That is indeed the question.

For starters, do exactly what you are doing. Taking a genuine interest in your dreams is an important first step. And that means taking an interest in all of your dreams, not just the ones that include blissful flights over emerald green tree tops.

One way to show your dreams that you are paying attention is this: Put a pen and pad by your bed (or your smart phone with the record function ready to go) and record your intention to recall your dreams before bed. Write it down: “Tonight I will dream and remember my dreams in the morning.” Then write down something in your notebook when you wake. Do this for a week or more, and that should get the dreams flowing.

But here’s the thing … you need to welcome all comers. If you get anxious dreams, scary dreams, or seemingly random and bizarre dreams, snippets, sounds … whatever, write them down.

Dreams sometimes behave like teenagers, you see. They test you with their moods, and ugly outbursts—but if you stick with them and let them know you’re listening and honoring all of who they are, they’ll start to share the wise, warm, and loveable souls that dwell deep inside as well. And anyone who’s raised or taught a teen, knows that it’s well worth getting past the nightmare moments to get to the dreamy depths of who they really are.

As for that morning fog, yes, for most people if we don’t grab those dream memories before our feet hit the floor they’re lost forever. So, remember that notebook you’ve placed by the side of your bed? Grab it before you roll over and kiss your sweetie good morning, before you check the time, or get up to pee. Write down whatever you’ve got, and then get going.

I hope this helps clear a little of that dreamy fog away, so you can step onto the Royal Road to your unconscious. & do keep me posted.

In the meantime, may you be well and dream well.

TZ…

…ZZZzzZZZzzzz…

Visit me at Third House Moon for more information about dreams and dreaming.

P.S. You may also enjoy this post about Forgotten Dreams

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