“To remember the other world in this world is to live in your true inheritance. " - David Whyte
As Dream Worker, one of the most common questions I encounter is in offering effective techniques for initiating and remembering dreams. In fact, most people say they don't dream or remember their dreams. Scientific research shows, however, that we dream an average of four to six dreams every night (dreamscience.org). So why do we think we don’t remember our dreams? I use the word think intentionally, because understanding that aspect of the dream process seems to be one of the turning points for allowing the personal psyche permission to begin dreaming and to remember what is dreamt.
Thinking is a rational conscious process, while dreaming is a deeply irrational and unconscious process. While dreams are not void of rationality, and the rational waking life is not void of dream, finding ways to traverse and bridge the two worlds seem to offer understanding and relating in and between both forms of consciousness. The following is a list of ten things I recommend for initiating and remembering dreams:
Keep a large unlined dream journal open to a blank page within reach by your bed. Use a working pen as a page marker. Once you have written your dream, turn your journal to the next blank page, readying your journal for the next dream. Dream journaling has become one of those key practices for modern dreamers. At first it is easy to disregard as a somewhat silly new age practice. However, dream journaling has real power. First, it pulls dream content from the unconscious world into the waking world by scribing. Scribing, or writing, is a practical form of manifesting. Its power to bring an otherwise intangible dream into the material world is potent, giving form and reality to the dream. The dream journal becomes an ally, and lets the Dreaming Psyche know you desire to have a relationship with and remember your dreams. Dream journaling also indicates that you remain open to an ongoing relationship with the dream world. By the very presence and engagement of these tools, dreaming and remembering is set with intention into ritual, motion and manifestation.
State your intention that you are calling for a dream before going to bed. Let the Dream Maker, or Dreaming Psyche, know you seek a relationship with the dream world and its figures. The simple act of setting an intention to dream sets the psychic and mental stage to invite a dream. You would be amazed at what happens with this one simple practice!
Be patient. Dreaming is like a muscle. The more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Trust that the Dreaming Psyche understands your intent, and has heard your request. When you set your intention, then a dream will come. The nature and content of that dream is an unknown, and outside the realm of rational control. However, if you have prepared, dreaming is really just a matter of time and practice.
When a dream comes, ask yourself the question “Where am I,” or “Where was I?” prior to fully waking. Every dream has a landscape. When we dream, the dream is not in our world, we are in the dream’s world (James Hillman). When we can bring ourselves into the liminal transitional conscious state, back to the landscape of the dream, then we can remember the details, figures, and scenarios we have just experienced.
Write the dream from the end back to the beginning. In the rational material world we like to begin at the beginning of the story. But remember, we are now in the dream’s world: the eternal present. This world is not bound by linear time. Scribe from end to beginning. As you write, the story, landscape, and figures will begin to unfold in detail.
Nutrition! Eat deep leafy greens, mix a whole food based green supplement into a smoothie and drink each day, or take vitamin B12, B6, or B Complex to boost and activate your dream life and ability to remember and retain your dreams.
Refrain from eating, drinking alcohol, or smoking before going to bed. These practices give the body and psyche a signal to field material substance rather than psychic substance. Even if you engage in substances you will still dream. However, the quality and quantity of dream activity and retention diminishes. If you want to engage dreaming as a regular or intentional practice, set a new dynamic and replace substances with dream. New forms of consciousness and images will inevitably visit in their place.
Sleep Position. When waking take that moment to stay in the same body position, noticing the liminal state you now occupy between the worlds. This is the most potent state in which to begin the remembering the dream, prior to fully transitioning into the material world. Notice, in detail, to whom and what you are in relationship. What are you still experiencing? Are you in a boat, dessert, or dialogue? What are the relationship dynamics you are experiencing? While in this state of awareness, record the dream.
Leave behind judgment and scribe authentically. The rational, thinking mind wants to begin to make sense of the dream and judge. Once again, we are not in the world of sense. Scribe the dream with as much truth and authenticity as you can muster. Occupy the full experience your dream has offered. Know you can return to your personal analysis of the dream later. For now, be the dream in the way of the dream (Aizenstat).
Reference: Dream Tending by Steven Aizenstat. (2009). Spring Journal. New Orleans.