HOW DO I REMEMBER MY DREAMS?
Soaring with the birds. Teeth falling out. A crazy psychopath is chasing you.
For many of us, our dreams transport us to a surreal world where logic and reason have no reign. Some of us may even look forward to sleep — and the adventures we’ll go on in our dreams.
But does everyone take a nightly trip to dreamland? While most of us remember somewhere around one or two dreams a week, some people report a subconscious experience that’s more like a blank tape.
Among us are people who say they never, ever dream. A small subset of the population — around one in every 250 people — report never remembering a single dream in their lives.
What is it about people who don’t remember their dreams that sets them apart from the people that do? Is it possible for the brain to stop producing dreams? And could something be wrong in the brains of people who report never dreaming?
Patricia Eltinge in her book THE DREAM CLASS- Know your Dreams, Know yourself, says:
Dreams seem to come from a different dimension, and they speak a language all their own. Dreams act as bridges between the lower and upper worlds, between the unconscious and conscious mind. A dream is generally a crystallization of our unconscious mind working with experiences, images, and impressions from our daily lives.
Dreaming is one of the last frontiers in our understanding of the human mind. And learning about dream recall — the why and how of remembering one’s dreams — may help scientists solve some of the mysteries of the dreaming mind.
Is Dreaming a Universal Experience?
Pretty much, everyone dreams. Dreaming may help foster problem solving, memory consolidation, and emotional regulation.
But not everyone remembers their dreams. And, forgetting dreams is considered completely normal in terms of overall brain health and functioning.
As a general rule, memories of our dreams quickly fade. When we wake up, memory encoding is especially fragile. The harsh blare of an alarm clock is often enough to distract us, preventing fleeting memories of dreams from ever being recorded to our long-term memory.
Waking up is like going from air to water while holding sand in your hand. Holding the sand is like holding the memory of your dream. And you’re trying to dive into the water without losing any sand in your hand. The idea is that it’s very hard to keep this fragile memory of your dream.
But for some reason, some of us are better than others at holding onto dreams. And while science still has a long way to go in understanding dream recall, it seems that brain differences, individual characteristics, and aspects related to the dreams themselves all play a role.
Why Do We Forget?
It is said that five minutes after the end of a dream, we have forgotten 50 percent of the dream’s content. Ten minutes later, we’ve forgotten 90 percent of its content. Why is that? We don’t forget our daily actions that quickly. The fact that they are so hard to remember makes their importance seem less.
Freud theorized that we forget our dreams because they contain our repressed thoughts and wishes and so we shouldn’t want to remember them anyway. Other research points to the simple reason that other things get in the way. We are forward-thinking by nature, so remembering something when we first wake up is difficult.
Many things are quickly forgotten when you first wake up, such as physical sensations. He also considered the fact that many dream images are not very intense and would therefore be easy to forget. Another reason is that we traditionally learn and remember both by association and repetition. As dreams are usually unique and somewhat vague, to begin with, it stands to reason that remembering them could be difficult. For example, if someone speaks a phrase to you that doesn’t immediately click with anything in your experience, you might need the person to repeat it to remember it or even understand it. Since we can’t go back to our dreams to experience something again, details that are out of our realm of experience often escape us.
How do I Remember my Dreams
In the book, THE DREAM CLASS, Patricia has devoted an entire chapter on practices that can help in recalling dreams.
Capturing our dreams is the first step in learning how to read or dreams. You can remember your nightly dreams if you attach great importance to them, which is the motivating factor in recalling dreams, to get deeper into your true nature. Before retiring for the night, the ego should prepare to encounter its own deeper aspects. This should be done in a spirit of great interest and expectancy.
How to Remember Dreams
Theories abound as to why we dream, how we dream, and what meaning we can assign to our dreams. Many people believe that dreams can provide insights into our lives and feelings, but the trouble is, they’re notoriously difficult to remember. With conscious effort, you can remember more of your dreams and recall them in greater detail. Patricia says:
Before you Go to Bed
Going to sleep normally is looked at as a simple period of extended rest. But for anyone who wants to experience the deeper mysteries of their own life, or simply to find answers to personal questions, sleep must be approached more reverently.
1. Plan to get a good night’s sleep. Dreams occur when our bodies are in the sleeping stage known as REM, which stands for Rapid Eye Movement. The body is at rest, but the mind is active with dreams. If you don’t get enough sleep at night, or your sleep is interrupted a lot, you get less REM sleep and fewer dreams. Try going to bed every night at the same time, and waking up at the same time every morning, to make sure you’re getting the right kind of rest.
Create a restful sleeping environment. Eliminate noises and distractions that might be preventing you from falling into a deeper sleep.
Put a pad and pen or pencil within easy reach of your bed. Use this pad only for recording your dreams.
Always put the pen in the same spot so that you don’t have to search for that, either.
An alternative to writing your dreams is to keep a tape recorder near your bed or under your pillow so that you can verbally recount what happened in your dream.
2. Keep your alarm close to your bed. If you have to get out of bed to turn it off, you will be more likely to forget what you were dreaming about. Set your alarm to go off after you’ve gotten an adequate amount of sleep. If you can wake up without an alarm clock, you won’t have to worry about turning it off.
If possible, try using a gentler way of waking up. Ask someone to wake you gently and without talking to you, or hook up a timer to the lights in your room. Many people find that they can better recall dreams if they don’t use an alarm clock.
3. Don’t eat, drink alcohol or take medication right before bed. The chemicals in these items can affect your brain’s ability to remember dreams. Try not to ingest anything for at least a few hours before going to bed, so that nothing interferes with your memory or your sleep patterns.
4. Calm your mind and body before bedtime. Is your brain typically buzzing before bed? Having a lot of stressful thoughts in your head can make it harder to remember your dreams, which requires deep focus. Before you go to bed, let your mind relax and be free of heavy thoughts. Let it drift calmly into sleep.
Avoid taking your phone or laptop into bed with you. Emailing and checking texts right before bed doesn’t give your mind the time it needs to clear.
Try meditating, or using the classic counting sheep technique, to free up your mind.
5. Make a conscious decision to remember your dreams. You’ve got a better chance of remembering your dreams if you want to remember them. Assuming you do want to, tell yourself that you’re going to remember your dreams and conscientiously follow the steps to make your desire to remember your dreams come true.
6. Think about a major problem or emotional concern or read right before you fall asleep. Think deeply about the situation without pressing for solutions or coming to conclusions. Just thinking about the problem opens the door, in a sense, to more vividly remembered dreams, and the dreams may even offer more insights regarding the problem at hand.
The Morning After
1. Concentrate on recalling your dream as soon as you wake up. Typically you can remember only the last dream you had before waking. Don’t move and don’t do anything. Stay in the same position as the one in which you awoke and try to remember as much about your dream as possible before you think about anything else. Think it through from start to finish.
While you’re remembering, focus your gaze on the first object you see as you open your eyes. Look at the object; focus on it. That object will most often take the vague recollection of your dream to a placemark in memory where it is easier to recall details. A doorknob, a light bulb, or a nail in the wall, for example, will help you to settle into memories of what you had experienced while sleeping.
2. Record your dream in your dream journal. Jot down as much as possible about your dream, starting with a basic sketch that includes such things as the location of the dream, the basic plot, the characters, the overall emotion of the dream (i.e. were you scared or happy in the dream?), and any prominent images you can recall.
If you can remember any dialogue, you may want to write it down first, as words in dreams are easily forgotten. Record everything you can, even if you can only remember one image. As you get the basics down, more of the dream may come to you.
If you can’t remember anything about your dream, write down the first thing that comes into your mind upon waking. It may be related to the dream in some way, and it might trigger recollections. Also, write down how you’re feeling when you wake up. The emotions you experience in a dream typically remain, at least for a brief period, when you awake, so if you wake up anxious or elated, ask yourself why.
You should have a special journal or diary reserved only for recording your dreams. Don’t write things to do with your next day schedule or some other non-dream related stuff in this special book.
Now we are prepared to set the limen by stating a specific issue or by asking a question that will help the unconscious to get you in touch with your instinct and intuition.
You can choose to write a statement or question in your dream book to get deeper into this issue. Your statement or question should be made in broad terms. Framing the issue as a statement or question in broader terms leaves an opening for the dream coming through your unconscious to give you more insights than your narrow question or statement.
For the Rest of the Day
1. Keep a notepad or voice recorder with you throughout the day. Often something you see or hear later in the day will trigger a memory of a dream from the night before. Note these recollections without delay, and think about them to see if you can remember how they fit into the rest of the dream. It also helps to continually think about your dreams throughout the day.
2. Go back to your bed and lie down. Sometimes the memory can be jogged when you assume the same physical position you had while dreaming. Try to put your head in the same place on the pillow, arrange your body the same way, and close your eyes. If the dream comes into your head, think it through before getting up to write it down.
It might help to open your eyes and look at the object you first saw when you woke up.
Try creating the same atmosphere in the room – close the curtains, turn off the lights, and eliminate noise.
3. Practice again the next night. Remembering your dreams takes effort and practice. The more you become conscious of your dreams, the more likely you are to remember them. Get into the habit of committing to remembering your dreams and night and writing them down first thing when you wake up. The process will become easier over time.
4. Notice patterns. Eventually, you’ll figure out what factors help you remember your dreams. Try to notice patterns about the time you go to bed and wake up in the morning, the temperature of the room, what you ate for dinner. Do any of these variables seem to influence your ability to remember your dreams?
To know more about the fascinating aspects of dreams and the science of Dream Analysis, read THE DREAM CLASS by PATRICIA Eltinge.
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