Most of the time, my dreams have me waking up incredibly amused and thinking ‘what the f#@!’ – this is when they aren’t about me being kidnapped, my friends being murdered or my boyfriend breaking up with me. Then I’m just left in an anxious cold-sweat.
Psychologist Sigmund Freud suggested that dreams were a route to our unconscious minds. He believed that the information that appeared in our dreams was in disguised form so to get a better understanding, our dreams needed to be interpreted. Dream interpretation involves examining the literal content of a dream to try to uncover the hidden, unconscious meaning of it.
When I was reading up about expressive writing therapy a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled across the idea of dream journaling. Dream journaling is a way of logging what happens during your dreams which enables you to interpret them to try to get a better understanding of your unconscious mind.
So, what are my top tips for dream journaling?
Pick your journal
You can go as fancy as you like with the notebook you choose, but the important thing is that it’s only used for your dreams. People found that if they shared the purpose of the journal with recipes or to-do lists, they recorded their dreams less. It’s also important to choose a good pen, one that’s going to make waking up and writing down your night-time adventures appealing in your barely awake state.
Keep the journal and pen beside your bed
The quicker you can record your dreams, the more accurate they’ll be. If you happen to wake up from a dream in the middle of the night, your journal is right there for you to jot it down. Recalling the facts of a dream gets harder the longer we leave it. This is why the idea is that you record your dreams first thing when you wake up.
Our brains try to make sense of our dreams and we end up filling in little details. We give it a start, middle and end and make sure it flows like a narrative. There’s also the risk that you won’t want to include anything that you deem as weird or bizarre which is understandable; our unconscious mind is a thing so full of weird we can only handle it in small, dream-like doses. But these bizarre details are what make our dreams and it could be the one thing you need to uncover a meaning to your dream. Dreams are supposed to be weird.
Pay attention to the emotions
How you feel and the thoughts that occur in your dream is a key part in dream journaling. The idea here is that it helps you understand the relationship between your waking self and your dream self.
Give your dream a title
One of the last things I read was to give the dream a title. This forces you to set the theme and focus of your dream which will help you understand it better. Naming your dreams also makes it easier to find or cross-reference a certain one.
But why should I do this?
Understanding your dreams can give you a different perspective on how to tackle life’s obstacles. These obstacles can be from deep within or external factors that you may have overlooked. Dreams have the ability to cut right to the chase by using metaphors within the symbols you chose to dream.
Could a recurring dream hold any significance? Logging your dreams in a journal will help you see if and how often certain dreams occur and allow you to figure out the relevance of it. It’s possible that recurring dreams happen due to an ongoing problem in your life that you’re ignoring.
You can gain increased knowledge, self-awareness and self-healing the more you practice recalling and interpreting what occurs in your mind as you sleep.