Wish You Could Remember Your Dreams? 13 Hints for Dream Recall

by Ron Masa Ph.D.

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Understanding Your Dreams
by Ron Masa Ph.D.

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Dreams are a royal road to our interior, well worth befriending. Many dreamers find profound direction in their lives, discover new parts of themselves, and live more fully from exploring their dreams. But, before you can work with your dreams, you must remember them. One of the most frequent questions in dream workshops is, "How can I remember my dreams?"

Remembering a dream involves the transfer of information from our unconscious to our conscious self. We all dream every night, but many things can diminish our recall of these interior dramas. Being too tired affects us, as can stress and anxiety, or fear of the unknown could be blocking our access to dreams. Some people have simply never learned how to welcome dream information.

The first thing to consider is your attitude toward your own dreams. One client never remembered dreams, because they were "too irrational: Heck, anything can happen in a dream." I suggested he offer a "deal" to the maker of dreams: "No crazy content, and I will record the dream and work with it." The very next night, he remembered his first dream with great clarity: he was making eggs for breakfast and washing the dishes, yet many important insights were encoded in this very down-to-earth dream imagery.

  1. Our receptivity to hearing dream guidance improves dream recall, welcome them.
  2. You can sometimes make deals, specify what you do or don't want.
  3. You can ask questions before bedtime, (in writing if you wish--some even put it under the pillow), and then dream the answer to your "dream request."
  4. Reading about dreams can be a good stimulus to dream recall. Jung said that the unconscious takes toward us roughly the attitude we take toward it. When we show an interest in dreams, they often make themselves more accessible to us.
  5. Set your intention before bed to remember, honor and record any images that you recall. Having a pen and paper furthers the intent.
  6. At night imagine remembering a dream the next morning, and don't wait for a "complete" dream, capture any detail.
  7. Lie very still in bed when you first awaken to allow any images to return. Often we catch a dream by the tail, recalling the end of the dream first, and then tracing the story backwards.
  8. Create or purchase a dream journal and keep it by your bed. This demonstrates to the unconscious your serious intention to remember dreams.
  9. You can use a tape recorder to capture your dreams, though you may need to transcribe them (or listen back in segments) to work with them.
  10. Studies show that adding B-complex vitamins to one's diet may improve both daytime memory and the recall of night-time dreams.
  11. Using the snooze alarm or taking naps can invite dreaming when you are less deeply asleep, making it easier to recall them.
  12. Be aware: alcohol and many drugs decrease dream recall.
  13. Many people recall dreams prolifically on vacations, maybe you need a break.

Be curious about the workings of your psyche; it is guiding, rehearsing and retuning your attitudes each night. Even nightmares guide us toward health and wholeness; they just employ a story-form that is designed to command our attention.

Select the dream-recall techniques that appeal to you, and set your intention to remember and record your dreams in the next few days. If you want to explore the dream work process before recalling your dreams: you can analyze any waking-life experience as if it were a dream, using all the same techniques. Symbolic wisdom is hidden all around us!

Even those dreams we do not remember help us perform better the next day. However, as Jung's star student, Dr. Von Franz wrote: "Every understood dream is like a slight electrical shock into higher consciousness." You will dream tonight. Will you remember it this time?

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Ron Masa, Ph.D. taught and wrote about dreams while in private practice for 25 years. He and Debbie Hart co-lead the University of Yourself (http://www.UniversityofYourself.com).

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