The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

How to remember your dreams

with 5 comments

What if I offered you the world? What if I told you that you can have all the spiritual experiences of the great sages? Flight? Love? Money? Talking penguins? 

Dreaming is an often ignored art. When we sleep, we have the opportunity to experience all sorts of amazing things. Some break our hearts, others inspire us, and a few even change us. Scientists do not yet know what the evolutionary purpose of dreaming is, but it must be important, since we are very vulnerable when we sleep. There are many, many theories, yet only one thing is for certain. We need to dream. Many studies have shown that people who are deprived of REM sleep suffer terrible consequences. 

Remembering your dreams is a way to make the night time more interesting. Many of us go though our sleep cycles blissfully unaware of our night time visions. I don’t really know if my dreams mean anything. I do know that some seem to be punctuated by memories of the day’s events, others have to do with my emotions, and others surprise me. The following advice is based on my personal experience, and on a book called Lucid Dreaming, by Dr. Stephen Laberge. I highly recommend reading this book–it is available in paperback–if you are interested in dreams, and in experiencing them. I will give credit to the book where it is due. 

I am not a psychologist. My training is in education and literature. The little I know about dreams comes reading on the subject. This post is not intended to cure or diagnose anything. I encourage you to seek out information about dreaming on your own, and to consult your mental health professional if you think that you need help. 

1) Dream recall is a skill

Simply going to bed in the hopes of remembering your dreams is not going to work. You won’t have perfect dream recall from one day to the next. I am told that I am good at remembering my dreams. I think that is because I was encouraged to do so from a very early age. My parents used to ask me about them first thing in the morning. Later on, my religious beliefs required that I paid close attention to the dreamtime. Instead of praying for salvation, I used to ask for dream recall before falling asleep. I no longer believe in a supernatural entity, but it was always important to remember what I dreamed.

Dr. Laberge believes that dream recall can start with a dream journal. While I agree with him, I think it is better to encourage a conversation about dreams every morning with our loved ones. Instead of getting on with the day, give the creations of your mind some time to stretch before you have to face reality. 

2) Dreaming is affected by your mental habits

I believe that dreaming is as much a part of your life as driving to work or having a nice meal. Most of us go though the day without giving the events around us a second thought. The lucid dreaming book I recommend gives a few methods to induce awareness during your slumber. I think these methods are great, but I think that the most important thing to do is to pause throughout your life to look at things. I am in the habit of stopping my internal monologue to just look at the world around me. I listen or feel what is going on. Something wonderful happens when I do that. Everything is beautiful, and clear, and amazing.I allow the world to fill me up. I may be driving and notice a tree, or the smile of a stranger. I am fascinated by textures and patterns, by connections and interrelations, and by observing the sensations I experience as I interact with the Universe. Again, that was something I had to work on, so that the mental habit or cycle of really paying attention happens also when I dream. It is such a part of who I am I just can’t help it. When I awake to the world of my dreams (even if I do not realize I am dreaming) everything is vivid and beautiful, and since there is no external reality, interesting things tend to happen as I interact with my mental universe. I am way more likely to remember these dreams. LaBerge suggests other helpful habits to create lucidity and to encourage recall, but those is beyond the scope of this article–plus, you should totally check out his book. 

3) Interact with your dreams

Some times my dreams affect me a lot, so I try to make them a part of my waking consciousness by doing what Carl Jung calls a dialog of the imagination. I talk to the dream characters and listen for answers. I am completely aware that they are my own creations and that they have nothing but subjective knowledge to offer, but it is nice to do so. If dreams are scary, or disturbing, I use my imagination to “defeat” the scary images even after I awake. Once, I brought back to life a bunch of people who died in a dream, and I was able to go though my day not feeling disturbed by a very bad nightmare. Conversely, if I have a great dream, I try to use my imagination to bring the source of dream goodness in to my awareness throughout the day. The dream goodness lives in my brain, after all, so I can take it with me. The warmth of an awesome dream has helped me to remember dreams even tears after I’ve had them. The ability to confront them, makes it so that I am not afraid of them. 

If you become proficient at remembering your dreams, you may even be able to develop dream skills. I am able to fly in dreams by moving the dream world, while remaining at it’s center. I tend to jump between characters in order to avoid disasters. I can alter outcomes by turning dreams in to stories while I dream. 

If you want to go beyond remembering your dreams and into lucid dreaming read the book above, otherwise, here is a very complete online tutorial on the subject. This is a link to Dr. LaBerge’s page. Dreaming is free. It has better special effects than anything else out there and it relates to you as a person. Don’t waste it. 

A final note before I go. There are a lot of books and other things about dreams. Many of them are very informative and useful, but because of the strangeness and bounty of the dream landscape, many others are unscientific and filled with wishful thinking. Do not be deceived by them. Keep in mind that dream research is still emerging, and that we still do not know everything about our nightly excursions. Do not be duped by charlatans who claim that dreams are prophetic and scary, or that you leave your body in your sleep. Dreaming of certain things does not have any effect on reality. Some times you may ream that you are leaving your body, but that doesn’t mean you are. Do not let charlatans use your creations against you. What dreams may come belong to those who dream, protect them from those who would claim ownership over the denizens of your realm. 

Good night!


Written by Hector

November 17, 2008 at 9:00 am

5 Responses

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  1. I think it’s really cool that you would talk about your dreams first thing in the morning with your parents. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that.


    November 18, 2008 at 2:58 am

  2. I love remembering my dreams — unless they are disturbing. But the good ones I like to write down–good writing ideas…


    November 18, 2008 at 11:00 pm

  3. And my kids love telling us their dreams–every little minute detail…


    November 18, 2008 at 11:01 pm

  4. rjlight–I used to do the same to my parents. I think it was good that they asked. I had a disturbing dream the other day, but once I realized that I was dreaming, it all turned around. 🙂


    November 21, 2008 at 3:29 am

  5. I find that I cannot kill or be killed in my dreams. I’ve had quite a few dreams where I am shooting people, or being shot, and nothing happens. The odd this is that people die, just not myself or my intended victims.


    November 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm

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