There are many people out there who love the idea of Project August, but they can’t seem to remember any dreams. They want to participate, but can’t quite seem to conjure a dream. Therefore, I decided to do just a brief synopsis on remembering dreams in hopes that some of our readers can benefit.
First of all, everyone dreams. Also important to note is that you don’t have to remember any dreams to get their benefits, because its all done in the subconscious mind as a way to “digest” all your unrecognized memories and emotions.
However, if we can muster some dream memories, there are hundreds if not an infinite amount of ways to work with those dreams. So how does one remember dreams?
First, get more sleep. Our nightly sleep pattern cycles between the lower, deep, non-dream Delta waves and the higher REM phase where dreams exist. Early on in the night, we spend time “catching up” on our bodily energy…this is a restoration period. We dream very little in the first few 90-minute phases, but as the night wears on, our REM phases get longer, and thus our dreaming periods get longer. By the end of an 8-hour sleep period, the REM stage may be as much as an hour long (probably more like 20-40 minutes on average). These later stages provide more time to get emotionally involved in the dream, thereby enhancing our natural ability to remember them.
Next, change your attitude about dreams. Dreams can actually be personified, meaning that if we are grateful for our dreams, they actually present more of themselves to our conscious, waking mind. If we disregard dreams, they may evade us.
A pre-sleep intention can kickstart a new dream life! I went a period of over 10 years where I didn’t remember a single dream. Being naïve about dreaming, I erroneously assumed that I had lost the ability to dream altogether. But when I accomplished the following steps, I remembered my first dream in a decade on the very first night.
When lying down to go to sleep, affirm out loud that you will remember a dream. Say it multiple times. In fact, say this periodically throughout the day, “I will remember a dream tonight.”
Next, place a piece of paper or journal and a pencil near your bed for easy retrieval when you wake up. Don’t forget to also place a pen light or headlamp nearby so you don’t have to move very far to jot down notes upon waking.
Now, lay your head back on the pillow and close your eyes. Before going to sleep, imagine yourself doing all the following:
1) imagine yourself dreaming,
2) imagine yourself choosing some easy keywords from the dream,
3) imagine waking up but not moving a single muscle,
4) Imagine recalling the keyword and then recalling the rest of the dream,
5) imagine rolling over, turning on the light, and writing down your dream.
You can train yourself to remember keywords. During the day, as you experience certain things, say to yourself a keyword about that incident. If the boss yells at you, the keyword might be “boss” or “yelling” or simply “boss yelling.” If you get into the habit of doing this during the day, you’ll inevitably do it subconsciously at night during your dream, which will make it phenomenally easy to remember a dream.
Upon waking, it’s important to NOT move a muscle. Movement causes the hazy dream memory to slip away. Therefore, just lie there quietly without moving and try to recall your keyword. If you can’t remember keywords or any dream fragments, then start to think of common people in your life, or common events that you frequently experience, in the hopes that one of those will have been in the dream.
Finally, get in the habit of writing or typing your dream memory very soon after waking. The longer you wait, the more dream memory that will be lost. The act of recording dreams will actually attract more dream memories. So even if you don’t remember a dream in the morning, begin to type or write as if you did. Just write anything, letting the mind freely wander. This action may actually invigorate a dream memory, but it will invariably help you chronically remember dreams in the future.
One last thing you can do to recall dream memories is to meditate. One of the best ways to begin this practice is called mindfulness meditation, which if accomplished regularly will inspire so many healthy benefits to the mind, body and soul.