If I had to use one word to describe dreams it would be:
The things just don’t want to stick around. They’re like a used up Post-It or an irresponsible step-father. They take over your mind at night, run amok, and then slip away like a thief in the night the second you return to the waking world.
A lot of people will say that they never dream.
According to the science people, everyone dreams. We dream for a total of about 2 hours a night, but some of us are more likely to remember them than others for various reasons that can be Googled.
Why should you want to remember your dreams?
Because they’re a window into your subconscious mind. And your subconscious mind is where the party’s at. It’s a glimpse into what’s happening behind the mental scenes, into what’s troubling you, and what you desire…all with a little nonsense sprinkled in.
I tend to be able to remember many of them vividly through some methods I learned when delving into the concept of lucid dreaming (when the dreamer is aware they’re dreaming).
You ready to give it a try? Here are a few simple steps you can take to increase your odds of dream retention:
1. Tell yourself that you’re going to remember your dreams tonight.
It’s all in the intent. Allow me to introduce you to your mantra: “I will remember my dreams tonight.” When you purposefully decide that you’re going to remember your dreams, you’re automatically upping your chance of successfully doing so. Tell your mind what it’s going to do and let it latch onto its new nightly mission.
2. Ask your subconscious a question.
Go to sleep with a question that you want your subconscious to help you answer. Repeat it over and over as you fall asleep. Maybe you’re trying to make an important decision. Maybe you’re bummed and not sure why. Who would know better than the most unfiltered version of yourself? Maybe you just want to ask your subconscious for a dream where you’re making out with your celeb crush in an infinity pool. Live your life.
3. Remove alarm clocks from the equation.
Worst way to remember a dream? Get yanked out of it by with a dose of self-inflicted audio panic. I know this life well as I am currently a setter of multiple alarms and a chronic snooze user. If at all possible, let yourself wake up naturally. Obviously, you can’t do this every day. I hear ya. I also have one of those things that I show up to five days a week so that they’ll give me money. I think it’s called a “job”. Choose a night where you have the next day off to start your dream recollection adventure.
4. Keep a dream journal (or your phone) right next to your pillow.
Do you enjoy an old-fashioned, pen to paper approach? Or are you a child of the future that prefers to pop open the Notes app and get to typin’ away? Pick what works for you. Writing it down has some perks and can get pretty amusing. You’ll find out why in Step 6. Put your notepad and writing utensil or phone somewhere very near your pillow (as though I need to tell you to keep your phone close. You know that thing is your best friend). You need these items within the closest reach possible for when you get to stirring from slumber.
5. Stay still when you wake up after a dream.
Your first decision upon returning to consciousness is to keep your eyes closed. You read that right, dream explorer. Lie there and don’t move a muscle. Mentally grasp at whatever residual visuals are left in your mind’s eye. Mentally repeat in words what you did, saw, and felt. “I brushed Brad Pitt’s hair. I saw a blue unicorn. I felt startled by my own insanity.” Think it out for 30 secs to a minute. You’re a statue devoted to the exploration of consciousness.
6. Write/type anything and everything you can recall with as little movement as possible.
Welcome to Step 6. It’s hilarious to write everything down because you’re gonna be doing this with your eyes fully closed. All movement that you make will decrease your ability to remember your dreams because you’re returning to the conscious self. You’re gonna feel around for that notepad/pen/phone…and you’re gonna do it slowly. No swift movement to scare the dream off. This writing will not be tidy or even in sentences. You’ll be writing sideways and words will land on top of each other. This does not matter to you. What matters is that all remnants of this dream get out of your head. Eyes closed and pen to paper. Delight in the nonsensical lettering later. For people using their phones, you’re gonna have to open your eyes a bit to type. Blind writing still looks like words. Blind typing is gibberish that auto-correct looks at and says, “Nah, son. I’m out.”
Write down everything.
Did it take place in a specific time?
Where were you?
What colors did you notice?
What did you hear?
What did you smell?
Who was there and what did they do? How did you feel about them?
What thoughts was your dream self thinking?
How did you feel during the dream?
How do you feel now that you’re awake?
Details, my dear. Details.
7. Find the connections and use them to your advantage.
Now that you’ve got a sloppy collection of random words and thoughts, it’s time to find the patterns. Make sense of the twisted images. Sometimes when you have a particularly gnarly dream, it can indicate that you feel confined in real life. Now, your subconscious is in there gettin’ wild and doing things you didn’t even know existed in your brain space because, damnit, you’re a good person.
Take highly into account how you felt during the events of a dream and how you can connect that to the reality of your waking life. Some dreams are remarkably common: falling, pulling your teeth out, feeling like you’re moving in slow motion, being naked in places where one just doesn’t want to be naked, being late to work (maybe also naked, you little dream nudist). There are definitely certain symbols and archetypal dreams that can be looked up in Dream Dictionaries, but I’ll tell you what:
No one can decipher your dreams like you can.
Think of a dream as a gift from your subconscious mind. A gift that gives you a possible glimpse into your rawest self. It has a couple hours of REM sleep each night to make contact with you.
Are you going to listen?
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I appreciate you 🙂