How to record your dreams

“In my dream last night, I was floating on the ceiling, looking down on my body,” my mother told me one morning while she was rushing about the kitchen organising breakfast. I was a young teenager, a prolific dreamer myself, and the mention of her dream captivated me.

Although I talked a lot about my dreams as a child, I don’t think anyone was really paying any attention. There was too much else going on. But I was very interested hearing about mum’s dream because she rarely spoke about them. Looking back, the only other dream I remember her telling me was one where she was with some people in a big house having a really happy time, and, when she left, she glanced over her shoulder and saw the sign outside the building, ‘The Mad House’.

I have a very well developed memory for other people’s dreams, which is a good thing given my chosen profession.

I mentioned mum’s floating on the ceiling dream to her many years later, and she was quite adamant that she had never had a dream anything like it, and that she would certainly have remembered it if she did.

A recent client excitedly reported that she told her daughter about the work she did with me on a dream. “You had a dream a bit like that last month,” replied the daughter. It was a staggering dream, one that painted a vivid picture for the daughter, but my client had completely forgotten about it until her daughter mentioned it.

Although I remember other people’s dreams very well, I’m often very surprised when I find a dream of my own that I’ve written down but had forgotten or can’t remember at all even though it is written in my own handwriting. Time passes, and the memory of some dreams fade no matter how amazing they were. The same applies for waking life memories of course. How often has someone reminded you of a key event, unusual circumstance, or highlight of a season that you had completely forgotten or still cannot recall?

In last month’s blog, we looked at how to remember more dreams and how to remember more dream details.

But how can you remember your dreams over a longer term, and why might it be wise to do this?

Is it important to record your dreams?

Recording your dreams takes some effort, maybe a little, maybe a lot, depending on which approach you choose to take. Is the effort worthwhile?

If you work on your dreams on the morning you awake, then perhaps you can keep the memory of the dream alive long enough to interpret it and gain insight, but even in just a few hours details can slip away. It is best to record as much detail as you can on waking.

More compellingly, there’s great value in being able to look back over your dreams to see patterns over a period of time, to find dreams of similar themes, or to notice how far you’ve come in your dream work. There’s value in searching through your dreams for similar symbols, and there’s always new wisdom you can find in hindsight as you gain more practise and expertise in interpreting your dreams.

The ideal way to record your dreams is either to handwrite them in a dream journal or type and save digital versions, but there are other ways if this just seems too time consuming for you.

 

Tips on how to record your dreams

First make sure you’ve read about how to remember more dreams and more dream details.

 

Keep a handwritten dream journal

Choose an exercise book, maybe add your artwork to the cover, or maybe buy an exquisite journal for the purpose. On the right hand page record your dreams, each with a date and a title. On the left hand page record notes about what was happening in your life, and leave room to write a summary of your interpretation later. At the back of the book create an index of dream titles, arranged by date, so that you can quickly look up a dream at any time.

Buy a second journal to record your notes about your dreams as you work through interpreting them. (If you do my How to interpret your dreams step-by-step course you’ll have access to dream interpretation charts that you can print out for each dream and perhaps bind into a folder or book.) When you’ve finished your interpretation, go back to your Dream Journal and write a summary of your interpretation opposite the dream.

 

Keep a digital dream journal

Organise digital versions following the notes for the handwritten Dream Journal above. One advantage of keeping a digital journal is that it’s easier to search through your records and find similar dreams and themes. A disadvantage is that it can seem less personal than a handwritten journal.

There are various dream apps and journaling apps that might appeal to you. Be wary with dream apps as many include a dream dictionary approach (What’s wrong with using a dream dictionary), or other means of interpreting your dreams that may be misleading or inaccurate.

 

Keep an audio dream journal

This might appeal if you tend to wake up a lot during the night remembering dreams. It’s easy to grab a recording device and press play. You might like to do this and then transfer the dreams to a handwritten Dream Journal later, or you might be happy to keep your whole dream record as audio files. It’s quicker to record, but perhaps more time consuming to listen back through.

 

Keep an art dream journal

If you don’t enjoy writing, take a similar approach to the handwritten journal but instead of writing your dreams down, draw them. This can range from a quick stickman type drawing to a more elaborate rendition in watercolour or pencil. You might find that one drawing encapsulates the whole dream, (every picture tells a story), or you might do a series of pictures or adorn your single picture with key words to jog your memory of the details.

 

Keep a one-sentence dream journal

This is an option for the truly time poor, and not really one I seriously suggest, but it’s better than not recording your dreams at all! Make your record either a handwritten or digital one. If you go for handwritten, invest time and energy into creating a beautiful book. For each dream, write the date, a title for your dream, and just one sentence that encapsulates the dream for you. The idea is that when you look at the sentence it will help you to recall the dream, and, if it doesn’t quite do this, those single sentences are an interesting avenue to begin to explore – and cross reference – your dreams.

 

Tell your dreams to your daughter, partner, or friend

Choose your recipient wisely. Not everyone is interested in the small details of their loved ones’ dreams. Simply hearing yourself tell a dream helps to cement it into your short term memory – perhaps long enough to be able to return to it later to interpret it.

 

The bottom line is that recording your dreams is a worthwhile investment in dramatically improving your life at all levels – as long as you take the next step and interpret them too.


Jane Teresa Anderson

Graduating with an Honours degree in Zoology specialising in neurophysiology from the University of Glasgow, dream analyst and dream therapist Jane Teresa Anderson has been researching dreams since 1992, and developing and teaching dream alchemy practices that shift perspective and reprogram unconscious limiting beliefs. Jane Teresa is a multi-published author, and appears frequently in the media on television, radio, and in print. She is also host of the long-running podcast, The Dream Show, and offers her online study and certificate courses through The Dream Academy.

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