I have tried to remember my dreams ever since I read an article about how
interesting they can be and how they tell us about our secret lives, but for
the life of me, I just can't. Any suggestions?
It can be very frustrating trying to recall dreams. Not only do we never
remember most of them, but the ones we do recall can easily slip away and
evaporate. But with a little guidance and effort, you will soon have
more dream recall than you know what to do with!
Here is a quick Five Step process for dream recall:
1. Night Before: Keep a pad of paper and
pen and a couple of pencils by your bed. Date the paper the night before.
When you awake, in the night or in the morning, write something down.
Even "I recall nothing this morning" is good to write down.
If you are keeping a journal, read the last dream you had.
2. When you go to bed, relax your body and
review the day in reverse. How did I get ready for bed? What was I doing
just before going to bed? What did I do this evening? What was it like
coming home from work, what did I do at the office, what did I have for
lunch, and so on, all the way back to how you got up and either recall
your last dream or recall your writing down "I recall nothing this
morning.". This exercise (From Psychosynthesis) is very relaxing
and helps us learn to reflect back and focus the way we need to focus
to recall dreams.
3. As you are getting close to falling asleep,
repeat over and over, "When I wake up, I will remember my dream.".
Jill Gregory of the Novato Dream Library says that a physical "trigger"
along with the verbal suggestion often helps, i.e. pressing your thumb
against each finger as you say each word of the suggestion.
4. When you wake up in the morning, don't
move! Stay in your same position, relax your body and let your mind drift
closer to your dream. Remind yourself that you want to remember your dream.
Shutting your eyes may help. Thinking about what you are going to do in
the future, like shower or at work or appointments is the best way to
miss a dream.
5. Once you begin to recall the dream, start
writing! Write down whatever you remember right away so you're not trying
to remember that material while trying to recall new material. If after
a minute you don't have any recall, write down "I don't recall anything."
Or even better, write down a short made-up fantasy about what you would
have liked to have dreamed. If you have other dreams in the journal, read
one of them.
For more information on how to recall dreams:
Breakthrough Dreaming: How to Tap the Power of your 24-Hour Mind
by Gayle Delaney (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1991)
Living Your Dreams: Using Sleep to Solve Problems and Enrich Your
Life by Gayle Delaney (Revised Ed. San Francisco: Harper and Row,
Living Your Dreams by Gayle Delaney (San Francisco: Harper &
The Dream Game by Ann Faraday (New York: Harper & Row, 1974)
Developing Dream Recall. In Dream Tips by Jill Gregory (Novato,
CA: Novato Center for Dreams, 1988)
Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill: Using Dreams to tap the Wisdom
of the Unconscious by Jeremy Taylor (New York, NY: Warner Books, Inc.,
Dream Work by Jeremy Taylor (New York: Paulist Press, 1983)
For more information on how to recall dreams.
Richard Wilkerson is general editor for The
Internet Dream E-zine, Electric Dreams, and director of DreamGate, the Internet
Communications and Dream Education Center. He writes the Cyberphile column for
the Association for the Study of Dreams Newsletter.