This fab entry is a guest post by Dawn Herring, dedicated journaler and blogger over at www.journalwriter.blogspot.com. Thank you to Dawn for her insightful entry!
I’ve always considered dreams to be a significant source for insight, direction, and revelation. Not all dreams are equal in importance, but I believe they are worth dissecting, especially if they are vivid, poignant, or even frightening.
As a child, I paid close attention to my dreams even though I didn’t record them.
Once I started keeping a personal journal as a young adult, I began recording dreams that seemed significant to me, ones that resonated and left a lasting impression upon waking.
Because I recorded them in vivid detail, no matter how strange, nonsensical, or frightening they were, these are the dreams I still remember many years later.
At one point when I journaled my dreams more regularly, instead of recording them in my personal journal, I began using a more structured method in a separate notebook, which included jotting down themes, colors, symbols, people, elements, seasons, and animals in addition to the actual summary of the dream itself. But I ultimately found this method too cumbersome, time- consuming and boxy for my taste.
I returned to dream journaling in my personal journal, going back to the occasional entry. I didn’t do it long enough to make it a daily habit.
But recently I discovered in my reading and research in journaling books that dream journaling is seen as an important, viable technique, which, when practiced on a daily basis, could help in revealing recurring issues and themes that surface over time which could in turn give insight and understanding into our daily lives. I realized I didn’t want to miss out on the importance of understanding my dreams if it could do that much for me.
So I decided to make dream journaling a daily practice on a simpler scale. I realized it didn’t have to be complicated. I could customize it to fit my needs and preferences.
With each entry, I record the date, how restful my sleep was, any significant events that occurred that day, and any TV programs I watched the previous night, which might have influenced my dreams.
Once I’ve gotten this info down, I begin with whatever dream seems to be the most prominent. Often as I write, I then remember segments from other dreams that I later record after I complete the first dream. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to remember my dreams, if they don’t linger in my mind after waking. Some I don’t remember at all, but that is rare.
Some are lengthy and vivid, full of rich detail, color, symbols and images as well as people. When they start early in the night and last as I go back to sleep each time until I wake for the day, these “all night dream” entries often take several pages to record and can even make for the framework for a short story.
Although it is recommended recording your dreams right after waking before getting out of bed, I have simply made a spot for it in my morning routine that works for me.
Keeping a dream journal is really a lot like story telling. Recording my dreams forces me to recall important details, often derived through association with the past, similar to the techniques used in writing memoir. I see dream journaling as a complementary exercise to my personal and spiritual journaling as well as my other writing projects.
I’ve been keeping a daily dream journal for almost a year and have benefitted from the insight I have gained, especially with the recurring themes and patterns I have noted, which ultimately helps me to understand myself and my inner life better.
I recommend dream journaling for anyone who sees the value in their dreams and the messages they contain and wants to understand the working of their inner lives so their outer lives are fuller and richer for it.