Sigmund Freud called dreams the “royal road to the unconscious,” but every so often these gleaming gems of wisdom vanish upon waking. Dreams often disappear as soon as the conscious mind takes over and you are left grasping the pieces you can remember to string together a story. The best way to reap the benefits that come from building a relationship with your dream life is to keep a journal. Though this might seem like a daunting task, the rewards of this practice are life-changing. Your unconscious mind holds loads of energy that can heal, transform, and give insight into your current life, and dreams are the sacred passageway to the unconscious. Read on to learn all the benefits of keeping a record of your dreams.
1. Dream Recall Improves
The first benefit people usually notice when keeping a dream journal is their dream recall improves. Knowing your dream journal is nearby as you doze off to sleep indicates to your psyche that you are prepared to remember your dreams. This focuses your psychic attention to open up your receptivity to the messages of the dreams and aid you in keeping the dream fresh in your mind upon waking. The most important thing is to write down your dreams right away, even if this means scribbling in your dream journal in the middle of the night. Do not wake up, reflect on the dream, and go back to sleep thinking you will remember it in the morning — write it down immediately! When you make writing your dreams down a habit, your psyche is able to take you on longer dream journeys. You will start being able to have longer sequences of dreams that take you deeper into the unconscious landscape.
2. Opens Doors to Your Mythic Landscape
Carl Jung spent over a decade deeply immersed in the mythic landscape of human psychology. Much of the content in his well-known Red Book came through his dreams. Keeping a dream journal allows you to track the mythic landscape of your own mind. Consciously choosing to interact with your dreams in this manner, and indicating the seriousness of your intent by keeping a dream journal, allows your dreams to deepen – to open up to the potent realm of myth. Here, you will encounter the primal content of the mind. Symbols will guide you to new narratives, which can become a powerful energy to incorporate in your waking life. You may even encounter powerful beings in your dreams that impart esoteric wisdom for your spiritual evolution.
3. Record Minute Details
The technique of memorizing something through visualization is a very old art form. Ancient Greeks and Romans, particularly orators, used the method of loci to be able to remember stories and speeches. Also known as the mind palace technique, this visual form of memorization worked by imaging a building or route that had fixed items in it to trigger recollection of information. Imagery cements the information in one’s mind, and journeying in these visual landscapes recalls the important information stored there. Keeping a dream journal helps you to construct your own recall techniques. When you are actively recording your dreams, little details you might have otherwise forgotten will begin to stand out. Seeing these objects in your dreams can make you recall previous dreams or even “wake up” in a dream and have a lucid dream experience. Writing down small details also helps to identify significant images that hold symbolic meaning for you to personally explore in your psychic landscape.
4. Notice Recurring Themes
In many ways keeping a dream journal is similar to personal research, which when conducted over a long period of time can offer great insight. Committing to the practice of keeping a dream journal over a long period of time will give you the opportunity to see repeat themes coming through. Common themes include dying, falling, being chased, discovering treasure, and water. All of these themes have important messages to convey, and it is beneficial for you to notice the recurring patterns of your dreams. Sometimes these dreams happen in succession, but other times it can be months or years between dreams with similar themes. Having records of your dreams allows you to go back and see what was going on in your life at that time, and if there are similarities to what you’re experiencing now, to notice what prompts these themes to appear in your dream or see if there is any relationship between the events happening then and now. You can begin to interpret your own dreams using this method and access to a deeper awareness of prominent themes in your dreams to gain insight about life events.
5. Correspondence to Daily Life
Shamanic traditions never disassociated sleeping and waking life in the way the modern world has done. Dream life and waking life were one and the same, both influencing one another, and information conveyed in dreams was considered just as reputable as what one might discover in their waking life. Keeping a dream journal helps you to blend your dreaming and waking life so they converge into one continuous flow of consciousness for you. You will begin to notice aspects of your dreams in your waking life and be able to act on what you’ve experienced while asleep. Learning to listen to the wisdom of your dreams will open new doors for you in your waking life since you’ve become more receptive to messages of guidance and intuitive hunches.
6. Dream Evolution
Just as you grow and mature in life, so do your dreams. Keeping a dream journal allows you to track the progression of your dreams. Your conscious and subconscious mind are deeply intertwined, so as you work through something in the dream world, you might notice a pattern changing in your waking life as well. Recording the evolution of your dreams can help you to develop new perceptions about how to handle challenges or obstacles in your life. If you have a repeating dream, or even nightmares, recording these dreams can indicate to your mind that you’re ready for the next part of the dream. Writing down the dream opens you up to the next phase of the dream. Actively keeping a dream journal can stimulate the progression of recurring dreams toward resolution. As you adapt your life based on the dreams you’ve been having, your dreams will respond and change too.
7. Family Dream Trees
A must-read for anyone interested in dreamwork is The Dreamlife of Families by Dr. Edward Bruce Bynum. This fascinating book details how the dreams of family members are intertwined within the collective unconscious. You might not realize, but families are linked through a psychic field that has shown evidence of premonition, ESP, and shared imagery in dreams among family members. Multi-generational dream analysis can deeply help to uncover roots of trauma in a family and heal patterns of behavior to foster new perceptions. Keeping a dream journal can assist you in noticing if there is a shared dream experience between you and family members.
8. Creative Expression
Dreams open you to a realm of creativity, imagination, and inspiration. In this subjective realm, the ordinary laws of the 3D world do not apply. You can fly, intuit messages, and perform mighty feats — all things you may not be able to actually ever do in your waking life. Keeping your dream journal will open you up to new ways of expressing yourself, as sometimes words will just not do the dream justice. Poetry, metaphor, and art are languages of the liminal realm. Colors and shapes communicate new meanings, and words no longer have to be confined by the rules of grammar. Working with your dreams will naturally enhance your creative abilities and help you to think in a more symbolic way. Your journal becomes a place for you to practice new forms of self-expression as you depict dream realities that call for fluidity and an open-mind.
9. Spiritual Transformation
Depth psychologists, dream analysts, and shamanic traditions have long understood the power of big dreams. These are the dreams that go beyond the ordinary night’s visions to catalyze a huge shift in the dreamer. This can happen through receiving a vision, seeing a premonition, or simply rupturing consciousness to allow for a breakthrough. These dreams are a portal for you to enter new realms in order to liberate creative energy, connect with spirits, and access the unknown mysteries of the world. As you begin to develop a relationship with your dreams through keeping a journal, your life is bound to open into the limitless expanses of the unknown. Maintaining a dream journal becomes a deeply rewarding practice that is bound to shift the perceptions of your waking and dreaming life.
Alanna Kali is a wanderer by nature with a strong desire to explore all the ins and outs of this world. She is a liberation psychologist, astrologer, and avid researcher in the fields of feminine spirituality, philosophy and ancient history. Switching paradigms is her favorite past time.