JOURNALING FOR DREAMING TRUE
It is difficult to retain what you have learned unless you practice it.
-- Pliny the Younger
Keeping a dream journal is central to the art of dreaming true. If you don't record your dreams, you are likely to lose them. At the very least, you will blur the vital details you need to work with. You will lose the chance to catch and use previews of events that come months or years before they manifest in everyday reality. You will most certainly lose the tremendous rewards of the most important book on dreams you are ever likely to read, which will become (if you let it) your private encyclopedia of symbols, an ever-available wise counselor, doctor and friend, aplace where you can discover and study the larger story of your life -- and a magic mirror that will never lie to you (although you may succeed in fogging or soiling the reflecting glass).
If you are not already keeping a dream journal, please start one! Goethe's advice is true for this, as for every major departure in life: "Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it."
PLAY THE DATING GAME WITH YOUR DREAMS
If you rarely remember dreams, or have been going through a dry spell, don't worry about it. Catching dreams is fun; don't make it a chore. Think of it as going on a blind date with a friend you can trust with your soul. By the very fact that you are reading this book, you have said to the source of your dreams: I'm ready to play!
Here's how to play the dating game with your dreams:
Make a date with your dreams. Get yourself all the equipment you'll need: writing materials, or a tape recorded (preferably voice-activated) if you prefer, and one of those glow in the dark pens if you're worried about waking a sleeping partner. Put these within easy reach by your bed. Pick a time of the week or the day when you can wake naturally and allow yourself some extra quiet time. Try to avoid excessive alcohol or anti-depressants.
Tell your dreams you are ready to play. Before going to sleep, write down your intention, and give it some juice. "I want to have fun in my dreams" or "I want to go on a dream vacation" are good intentions. But go where the energy is. If there is a big challenge looming in your life, ask for guidance. If there is something you need to face that you have been avoiding, you may have been blocking the dreams that can bring you healing and resolution. So ask for help with that. It is always okay to ask for help. It's best to do it in a generous spirit. If you are in need of healing, don't moan about your symptoms. The powers that guide us through dreams are less interested when we bleat about our kidneys or our need for cash than when we say something like this:
Grant me the measure of health my body requires to serve the purposes of the soul.
I have borrowed that one from Aelius Aristides, a famous Greek orator who found healing, inspiration and foreknowledge of future events in his dreams and walked very close to Asklepios, the god of medicine and dream healing. This invocation is quite adaptable. You might use something along these lines to ask for help with finding your dream job, your dream house, or the resources you need to keep body and soul together.
Whether your intention is a fling with a dream lover or help for a dying friend, go with the energy and remember to play. Write it down, put it under your pillow and sleep on it. You may be amazed how many things you can solve in your sleep.
You may need to use your imagination to relate whatever comes to you in the night to your initial question or intention. Say you ask for guidance on your relationship -- as a woman in one of my workshops recently did -- and you dream you have to escape from a resort hotel because a bomb is about to go off in the middle of your suite. There probably is a connection, even if you can't see it (or just don't want to see it) at first glance.
Write something down when you wake up (even if it's not a dream). Whenever you wake up -- even if it's at a cruel and unsocial hour -- write something down. Do this in the bathroom if that's why you awoke. Dream memories are fleeting. If you wake without dream memories, don't worry. If you just lie around in bed for a while, you may find a forgotten dream floating back, and then the dream before it, and the one before that. While working on this section of this book, I woke without dream memories. I spent a few moments in bed, gently rolling from side to side, as I tend to do during the night. Suddenly a dream scene reopened:
Drawing Dreamlines on the Roadmap
I have a very large map, a photograph or holo-graphic view of a landscape and a road winding through it. I draw lines at various angles from my position as observer to points on the road. These define the time-gap between dreams and episodes in waking life. They may also describe angles of perception and/or interaction with future events. The map, which is now a whole living landscape, can be "crumpled" so that points that are separate in space and time meet up. There is a scientist figure with tousled white hair who is eagerly monitoring my experiments. He looks like Einstein.
I was delighted to have recovered this dream vignette; it gave me confidence I might be able to thread my way through some of the knottier questions about dreaming, relativity and the holographic universe that we will explore in Part III. Later I was able to go back inside this dream and have a most provocative discussion with an Einstein figure. Had I simply jumped out of bed after telling myself I did not remember my dreams, I would have missed the fun.
If you still find you do not remember your dreams, don't worry about it. Write something down. Write down how you feel in your body, your heart and your head. Free associate. If you are up to it, fill those three "morning pages" Julia Cameron recommends in The Artist's Way. The gifts of your dreams may come spilling out. We all wake up with a dream hangover, even if we don't remember the dreams that caused it. As the song says, it can be the "sweetest" hangover, full of creative zest.
Make a date with a journal. The most important book on dreams you will ever read is your own dream journal. Make a date with your journal to write up your dream notes and review them. Always date your dreams and give them titles. Going back and rereading your journal regularly is critical to developing self-awareness and dreaming true. You'll discover what symbols mean for you. You'll learn to monitor match-ups between your dreams and subsequent waking events. You'll notice that some of your dreams overlap -- or may be fully interactive with -- the dreams of other people.
While you are on the way to becoming a fullfledged dream journalist, treat your journal like a sensitive lover who needs flowers or billets-doux at least once a week. Write something in your journal, even if it's not a dream. When you simply journal your observations of other people and the incidents of everyday life, you'll soon become alive to the play of synchronicity and symbolism in the world around you. The world is our mirror, as dreams are. When we wake up to the dreamlike qualities of waking life, our dreams come back (and vice versa).
Make a date to share dreams with a friend. Many writers know that one of the best ways to get cracking with a project is to make a date with a friend to share work in progress. Most of us perform better when we are on a deadline -- as long as we don't freeze up with performance anxiety! So give yourself a benign deadline. You'll share a dream with a special friend at least once a week. You might agree to get together to do this, or you might do it by phone or e-mail. This is something that needs to be done in live time. Your friend's role is not to interpret your dream, but to hold that special space for you in which dreams may be safely shared -- and encourage you to bring dreams into that space. Leading dream circles, I am filled with delight by the way dreams simply come through for newcomers who may have had a hard time recalling dreams before. Now they are coming into a space where dreams are cherished. As you get deeper into this, you may want to join a dream group or form one of your own. But first and last, you need to select that one person who will be your dream witness.
GETTING OVER NIGHTMARE BLOCKS
Maybe you have come this far, but find your nightmares are blocking you. Have you come up against things in dreams you are unable to face? In my personal lexicon, a nightmare is an unfinished dream. We encounter something so fearful or disturbing that we jolt ourselves out of the dream. We lie in bed in a clammy sweat, hearts thumping against our ribs, and give thanks it was "only" a dream.
There is a sizable industry devoted to helping people suppress nightmares, by giving them drugs to stop them from remembering their dreams or by suppressing the dream function, or by offering soapbubble solutions (like rescripting dreams in a cute or inauthentic way, without going back to confront the terror on its own ground)
We should give thanks for our nightmares.
Perhaps that seems shocking. But I think it's like this: Dreams come in gentle and timely ways to show us challenges that lie ahead. If we ignore our dream messages, the dream messenger becomes louder and more strident, like a friend who will phone or come round in the middle of the night because she has vital information for us. That information may involve something very challenging or unpleasant. Maybe the message is that we could lose our job, our relationship or our health. And maybe we don't want to face such possibilities. So we slam the door on our dreams even as they grow more vocal and dramatic. Now the dream messenger pursues us in terrifying guises, and we flee from the nightmare -- the aborted dream -- back into the dream of waking life, mumbling "It was only a dream." What happens in the end is that the issue presented in the dreams will bite us in the throat in waking life.
If we have missed the gentler, timelier dream advisories, let us at least give thanks for the nightmares that can rouse us, like a firehouse bell in the night, to take action before what we most fear and hide from takes form in physical reality.
How do we get beyond nightmare fears?
First, we need to stop running, turn around, and brave up to what is pursuing or threatening us. Start by getting yourself calm and strong enough to ask whatever you fear in the dream, "Who are you? Why are you pursuing me? What do you have to tell me?"
Try to go back inside the dream and dream it onward to resolution and closure.
Ask help from your dream allies and spiritual protectors. Yes, you have some even if you haven't thought about it since you were a kid, and they will take the forms you believe in. I learned something important about this from a child; when it comes to dreaming, kids are great teachers, if we will only listen. I once gave a scared little girl -- a friend's daughter -- a plastic soldier to protect her against the scary things she was meeting in her dreams. The toy soldier looked like a Roman centurion. A couple of years later, when I had forgotten about the incident, she told me she had faced creepy things in the night but that "Lex" had defended her. When I asked who "Lex" was, she said indignantly, "Don't you remember him? You gave him to me. Now he's seven feet tall."
Tell yourself you will stay with your dreams from now on and try to resolve their issues inside the dreamstate. If you are scared or startled out of a dream, try to stay with it, slip back inside it, and dream it onward to resolution and clarity.
Remember that, once confronted, nightmare adversaries often turn out to be helpers or messengers in disguise. However, some dreams we flee from relate to events developing in waking life that require action in physical reality. Your work with these dreams will not be confined to the approach outlined above. It will require you to clarify the dream message by the techniques explained in the next chapter, and decide carefully what you need to do about it in your waking environment.
Copyright © by Robert Moss