Sunday, May 3, 2009

Dreamwork Basics

These dreamwork basics include tips on remembering your dreams and a special method for interpreting them.

The Stuff that Dreams Are Made by John Anster Fitzgerald, circa 1858

Remembering Your Dreams

In order to work with our dream self we must first and foremost remember our dreams. Often we may wake up in the morning believing that we have not had any dreams. But it is more likely that we have not yet remembered the dreams we did indeed have. Think of the many times you have gotten up and dressed and gone off to work or school and then, out of the blue, recalled a dream experience. Such recall comes suddenly and for no apparent reason. This is one way our dreams come back to us.

Don't feel discouraged if you do not remember your dreams on awakening. Dream recall can come at any time during your day, and you can do many things to encourage better dream recall. We've put together a list of our favorite ten.

Key #1: Get Enough Restful Sleep

Most people need at least six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in order to experience the highest level of dream recall. We need to go through the ninety-minute sleep/dream cycle several times before we become rested enough to have a conscious memory of our dreams.

With some exceptions, most people who only get four or five hours of sleep each night short-circuit their natural dream cycle. Only you know exactly how sleep much you need. You might want to experiment several nights in a row to discover the optimum number of hours you need to obtain the clearest dream recall.

Key #2: Sleep with Your Head to the North

Sleeping with your head pointing true north puts your body and its corresponding chakra system in alignment with the polar magnetism of the earth. Yogi masters, mystics, and psychics have long recommended this position for healthful sleep. We have found that sleeping with our head to the north strengthens our connection to the higher, intuitive self; promotes the health of the body and the central nervous system; enhances restful sleep; and stimulates the highest and most vivid level of dream recall.

A simple compass can assist you in determining true north in your bedroom. Sleeping with your head to the other three compass directions will also affect your sleep experiences. For example, sleeping with your head to the south grounds you to the earth. This helps to reduce the occurrence of nightmares and invasive dreams. However, the downside of the south position is that it tends to dampen dream recall.

Key #3: Set Your Intentions with an Affirmation

We have discovered that what we pay attention to most often grows stronger and bears fruit. And so it is with dreams. Giving conscious attention to dreams will allow you to receive important messages of healing and wisdom that the hidden parts of you (subconscious, emotional, higher, and soul selves) are trying to bring to your attention every night.

It is especially helpful to use a simple, strongly worded affirmation of intention before you fall asleep at night. Try something like, "I will remember my dreams in the morning." Repeat this affirmation, or one similar to it, several times as you fall asleep.


Key #4: Keep Dream Tools Handy

Acknowledge how serious you are about your dream worlds by keeping your dream journal or a tape recorder close to your bedside. Then make an inner commitment to use these tools each night. It also helps to have a small flashlight handy when recording your dreams; oftentimes turning on a bright light will drive your dream memories away. A bright light may also awaken you so much that you will find it difficult to fall back to sleep.

Key #5: Give Yourself Extra Time in the Morning

An obvious but sometimes overlooked aid to remembering your dreams is to simply set aside an extra fifteen minutes in the morning for remembering and recording your dreams. Set the alarm fifteen minutes earlier than usual or train yourself to wake earlier so that you don't have to jump out of bed in a rush to get ready for work or school.

Key #6: Keep Your Eyes Closed

Another key to remembering your dreams is to keep your eyes closed when you first awaken to reduce the amount of external stimuli that normally floods your brain in the morning. It also provides a blank screen upon which your dream symbols, memories, and images can form. Finally, it promotes a state of relaxation that is beneficial when trying to access dream memories.

Keys #7 and 8. Relax and Be Still and
Re-Create Your Dream in Reverse Sequence

Remember to keep your body as still as possible as you wake up. Wiggling, stretching, or sitting up can drive the memory of your dreams away just as quickly as a bright light can. Sometimes you may remember only one image or scene upon awakening. Don't worry! If you relax and lay still, you can often trace this one image backward and reconstruct your dream, frame by frame, from the last scene to the middle scenes and, eventually, to the beginning.


Key #9: Journal Your Feelings, Daydreams, Fantasies

Get into a daily habit of journaling your feelings, daydreams, and fantasies. You might be thinking: I don't have time for this! And it's true, many of us lead extremely busy lives and simply do not have a lot of extra time. But this type of journaling does not require a lot of extra time. Don't feel as if you need to record every event or thought of the day.

Simply jot down a paragraph or two (usually in the evening just before bed), describing any feelings, fantasies, or interesting thoughts you experienced that day. Even just a few words or key phrases will help trigger your memory of an idea or feeling you may want to explore later on. You will be rewarded with deep insights into your patterns and life processes when you connect your journal information to the issues being brought up in your dreams.

Dreams are internal manifestations of our thoughts, hopes, fears, and conflicts. They provide us with a stage upon which to examine our issues from the various viewpoints of our self-segments, and, most important, they often offer us creative solutions to dilemmas -- solutions that have eluded our conscious mind.

Key #10. Create a Dream-Sharing Ritual

Create a morning dream ritual. Make it as simple or as complex as you choose. For example, Linda's mother created a morning dream ritual for her family simply by encouraging everyone to talk about his or her dreams during breakfast. Even if you live alone and have no built-in dream partners, you can still create meaningful rituals. One way is to bring your dreams to work and share them with an interested co-worker. You could also call or email a friend. The feedback we get from interested dream partners can provide valuable insights into our relationships and our inner psyches.

Although all the keys we have discussed are simple, they do require you to change. During your efforts to use these keys, don't become discouraged if you find it difficult to change your old habits to make time for the new activities outlined in the keys. Replacing old habits with new energy patterns is not easy. In order to be successful in changing your habits and installing a new pattern, your desire to work with your dream-self must be strong. The good news is that once you do establish a new pattern, it will become easier and easier for that pattern to take hold. Eventually it will become automatic, and you will gain all the benefit without great effort.

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