Stick With Dream Journaling


Once you start keeping a dream journal, you’re not going to have a breakthrough every night for the rest of your life.

That’s not realistic.

Neither are you going to have one amusing dream after another, though there’s a certain joy in a dream that amounts to a fun hallucination.

You’re going to have dreams where you rehash the events of the day.

You’ve going to have times when your mind seems blank.

There’s nothing extraordinary about those kinds of dreams.

Like prayer and other disciplines, dream journaling can be dry sometimes.

This is okay. This is a normal way for the subconscious mind to behave.

The key with dream journaling, however, is to stick with it. Do it as a form of meditation.

Keep telling yourself you want to remember your dreams when you go to bed at night. Set yourself up for success by having your dream journal handy with a writing implement. If you don’t have a soft light source, be ready to write something toward the page’s middle.

Even being able to write a few words down can help you with your recall later.

Some people have amazing dream recall naturally. Others, not so much. I suspect many researchers over the years didn’t develop dream journaling as a consistent habit. Or, maybe they did, but they resisted trying to figure out what their subconscious was trying to tell them. Because of this, they weren’t able to see the trends in their dreams.

Fashion and other trends are visible when it comes to groups of people. As individuals, we have these trends in our life too, even if it’s as simple as “back then I lived here and I used to do that.”

Some of their research seems self-censored, too, ignoring the spiritual and intensely personal, focusing on broad principles. They’ve got careers to think of. Anything that makes you too much of an outlier can be seen as a risk.

It’s a good idea to be skeptical with well-thought-out standards for proof. Let the story of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross be a cautionary tale.

It’s easy to get discouraged. However, if you believe that prayer and meditation have an intrinsic value and realize that dream journaling is a form of those things, it’s better. Dream journaling is more than writing down your dreams; it’s also a format for understanding your dreams too. It’s a method for achieving all of the benefits of those activities. It’s a way of taking the temperature of your life.

You can sit cross-legged on a mediation cushion in the middle of a room with your eyes closed for a half-hour per day. You can do yoga and meditate. You can set a timer. With all of the time you spend doing yoga, you can worry if you’re getting cardiovascular and strength fitness somehow while doing yoga. There are only so many hours in the day.

On the other hand, you can take advantage of the moments before sleep to do the same thing, bringing those insights from hours of meditation into the daylight.

Much of the benefit of mindfulness meditation is the way it breaks up stress by interrupting the cycle of the thoughts that provoke the fight-or-flight reflex. The techniques are simply ways to do this. Think of what you have to be grateful for. Make your mind blank. Visualize a calm scene. All of them work. It makes sense to practice them at bedtime.

For further reading in the series: Understand Yourself Using Your Dream Journal 

Part 1 What You Know and Don’t Know – The Dream Recovery System 

Part 2 Keep An Actual Dream Journal – The Dream Recovery System 

Part 3 Encode Your Dreams If You Must – The Dream Recovery System 

Part 5 Compare Yourself To Others The Right Way – The Dream Recovery System 

Part 6 I Compare My Dream Journal – The Dream Recovery System 

Part 7 Compare Yourself to Yourself – The Dream Recovery System 

Also on the blog:

Unlocking Your Power: 8 Benefits of Shadow Work (with Prompts)


James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life. 

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