Dream Journal

I’ve previously written a beginners post on Lucid Dreaming, but I want to elaborate a little bit more on keeping a dream journal.

 Why to keep one

There would be two reasons why to keep a dream journal: 1, It helps with dream recall and 2. it’s interesting.

It’s quite common for people to believe that they don’t dream, just because they can’t remember their dreams. If you are one of them, why not change it? Why not remember the incredible adventures that you might have during your sleep? By keeping a dream journal, you’ll also notice any patterns that might be present.

How does it work

A dream journal will help you remember more dreams (and more details per dream) because of several reasons.

By intending to remember more dreams, you will remember more dreams. By keeping focus and working towards your goal, you will make it true. The dream journal will be a tool to channel your motivation and effort. The process of remembering becomes more real when you have an actual object dedicated to it.

The ritual will help. If you always write in your dream journal, even if you can’t remember anything, it becomes a habit. If done right, and done serious, it could become a ritual of sorts – something you do every morning. Eventually your brain will be used to it, and help you.

Putting the dream experience into words, making it real. Verbalizing is important, because the dream isn’t real and won’t be remembered very well. It becomes real when you define it, however. Writing those words down in a journal will make sure you have to describe it, as well as aid your memory later on. It’s shown that thinking and writing the thoughts down will help you remember better than simply thinking.

After a few days you should have enough data to start analyzing. What themes, items, contexts and so on are common? Knowing this will help you remember more.

What should you do

Fetch a notebook, a journal software (or Notepad, any text editor could work) and put a name on your new journal. Any medium would do, really, but text would be preferable because it’s easy to go through later on. Imagine trying to skim through ten hours of voice notes. I believe computerized text is optimal, because I don’t have to decipher my handwriting and I can search through the entries.

The probability of remembering dreams would be highest just when you wake up. The number of details and amount of clarity recalled will decline over time, as will the likelihood of remembering any “new” dreams. Therefore it’s important that you plan on how you are going to consolidate your dreams into the dream journal. Are you going to write them down when you wake up in the morning, or are you going to write them down later? Writing when you wake up is great. Personally, I take voice notes when I wake up and write them down later when I have spare time. Still, some details could be lost, as I can’t speak out all the details.

How are you going to handle waking up during the night, if you have a dream fresh in your mind? “Meh, I’ll write it down later, I’ll remember it…” doesn’t work – trust me on that one. Voice or written notes? Can you go back to sleep after having a bright phone in your face? Or write clearly in the dark just after waking up? I dim my phone’s backlight and take some quick notes – key words. It works for me. If you forget what those key words mean, try to write the dream down instead. With practice, you might be able to get away with shorter notes. Test different things and see what works for you.

If you remember any new dreams or details during the day, be sure to jot them down as well.

Keeping a dream journal will aid you in recalling more dreams in greater detail, but it’s only the basic step. The most basic, and indeed the most important step.

Lucid Dreaming: The Basics

Ever had a dream, in which you knew you were dreaming? Ever had a dream that you could control completely, bending both the will of others and the laws of physics with the power of your mind? Does this sound interesting?

Lucid dreaming can be defined as a dream where you know you’re dreaming. I’d define it as a dream where you realize that you are dreaming, by various means. The absolute definition is a matter of viewpoint, but the core concept remains the same – you are aware of the fact that you are in a dream. Wikipedia has a few articles related on the subject of Lucid Dreaming.

Why

Why should you care about Lucid dreaming? Well, if the idea of controlling your dreams doesn’t intrigue you, then perhaps you should stop reading. This is what a lot of people like about it. The second biggest reason would be to explore your dreams and the dreamwold. Endless possibilities indeed, some even use lucid dreaming for self-exploration or self-improvement. You are free to believe that this state of mind can do wonders if you want, and it might really be so. However, that would be outside the scope of this article.

How: The lazy way

Most people have already experienced one or more lucid dreams, but as all dreams they are easily forgotten. By reading up on the subject, you will increase your chance of randomly having another lucid dream, and remembering it. You can have one from this very night,  as a matter of fact. The likelihood increases with effort, focus and belief. The laziest way to have a lucid dream would be to read this article, and then think about lucid dreaming a few times a day. It won’t be very effective, but it requires the minimum effort.

How: Getting started

If this sounds interesting, and you’re willing to spend a few minutes every day on this, then it’s time to get started. There are multiple approaches, but I’ll cover the most simple one as this is the basics. The first thing you need to do it to commit to doing this. Lucid dreaming is not hard at all, but the work it requires varies from person to person. There is also a couple of mental factors – if you think it’s hard or that you can’t do it… then you will be right. The mind makes it real. The rest of the article will cover getting started.

Dream Journal

The first step would be to remember your dreams. It’s said that remembering one dream per night is a good start. If you can’t recall your dreams, recalling lucid dreams would be impossible. That said, it’s often easier to remember lucid dreams.

There are a number of factors determining how clearly you can remember your dreams. The biggest one is practice. With training, you can recall a lot of dreams in great detail. Dreams fade with time, and this is the reason why you sometimes can remember an entire dream in the morning, but only recall a few details in the evening. Writing your dreams down will be one of the most efficient tools you have. Dreams can also fade during the night, and writing them down when you wake up (during the night) will help you remember them later on. A few short notes also work.

The majority – if not all – who uses a dream journal will improve their dream recall rate to at least one per night. It’s surprising in a way, because writing down what you remember doesn’t change your sleeping pattern, but it does change how much you remember. When writing in your dream journal, try to cram in as much detail as possible. Everything you remember should be in there. It’s important that you write every day, even if you don’t remember anything.

Writing down a few notes when you wake up won’t reinforce the memories to a great extent, but the notes themselves will aid you in remembering. Sometimes a few key words can jolt your memory. Try this out.

Personally, I take voice notes with my phone when I wake up. I don’t have the time to write an entry in my dream journal right away, and it’s a lot faster speaking the dream in comparison to writing it. Then I consolidate the material into my journal, later on.

Reality checks

Dream logic means seeing is believing. Extraordinary things can be rationalized with gibberish. Sometimes you will realize that you’re dreaming by seeing flaws in the world around you, but this might happen very rarely. If you constantly question reality, then this will happen more frequently. The easiest way to realize that you’re dreaming is to do a reality check (RC). Anything could be used as a reality check. The point is to create a simple test that can give a real- and dream-like outcome. For example: can you fly? If you can, then you’re obviously dreaming. Can you push a finger through your palm? Can you pinch your nose and still breathe?

Reality checks work because they make you question reality. Being able to fly is impossible in the real world, yet we can fly in dreams and not think twice about it. We can see numerous impossible things and still think it’s normal, and this is the reason why questioning it is so important. If you question reality, and see something impossible, then you will realize that you’re dreaming.

Another important thing about RC’s is expectation. You need to expect the dream-like outcome, or the impossible result. Dreams can be as real as the real world, but they can also be weird and fake. If you expect something to act like it does in real life, then it will do so in dreams. If you expect it to work like in a dream, then it will do so. Of course, real life can’t mimic the dream-like outcome. This is the point.

Keep on reading

This is the very basics. I advice you, if you are still interested, to search for more information on the subject. Read up on techniques, abbreviations and success stories. I’ll do some more in-depth articles later on.