Monday, July 8, 2013

Dream Journals

An Astrology-Plus Post

Article © 2013 by Joyce Mason
All Rights Reserved

 dream journal is a record of a dialogue between you and your subconscious. By recording the dream transmission, you are transcribing the direct, unedited shorthandthe symbolic language of pictures used by your mind and spirit to convey concepts through your dreams. Then comes the Sort-It Detaildeciphering it.

It’s simple to understand that you can’t mull over the interpretation without a good record of the film and dialogue of your night movie. You need a way to hit the replay button to get the fine details and review the action. So, the only thing that we need to go over is how to keep a good dream journal.
Some people like to use a tape recorder. Most people write down their dreams, more conducive to review and analysis. The format is a matter of taste, but here is what I have learned over the years about helpful substance. 

What to Do At First 

It’s likely you’ll have to convince your dreams, in the beginning, that you’re serious about them and willing to be their scribe. Go to sleep with the intent to remember. Keep your pen, paper, and a book light handy to jot down major concepts if you wake up in the middle of the night. This will keep both you and your partner, if you have one, from glaring lights in the middle of the night. By keeping the lights focused on your journal, you’ll avoid completely waking up either of you.

Dreams are best remembered and transcribed in that hazy threshold between sleep and waking.

If you sleep through the night without a bathroom break (a good time to stop and ask yourself if you remember anything), record first thing in the morning. Don’t even get out of bed. Grab your notebook from the nightstand. As you get good at this and your dreams know you’re serious, you may be able to hang onto the story till you get your morning coffee, then go to your computer or notebook. Even a seasoned dream scribe will do best as close as possible to his or her dream state.

What to Write

The level of detail is completely up to you. As a Virgo, I love details. I think they provide a richer tapestry of information. But sometimes, you’ll only remember a snippet. Sometimes the shortest dreams are as rich as an éclair,   packed with everything you need to know. Don't ignore one of those short-but-sweet ones, thinking it was too tiny for your attention. It may be like a rare gem, small but valuable. The best rule of thumb is to write down whatever you remember. The mind is an amazing filter. It will just slough off what you don’t need to know and leave the rest for you to work and play with.

How to Organize It

I write my dreams in a simple format on my computer, then print out and prong them into a three-ring binder. (I can’t even read my own handwriting, so typing is a must.) This is what works for me. Any format that works for you is fine. Several of my friends buy beautiful journals with covers that have personal meaning and hand write in them. I suspect they channel their recall through their fingers.
Always date your dreams and file them to your taste, either in forward or reverse chronological order. (I like the latest one on top.) I do several other things I have found helpful:

  • Give Your Dream a Title. I know it sounds a little over the top, but you’d be surprised how this capsule version of each dream will give you a mental and emotional cue, especially when you’re paging through a series of dreams over time to find any patterns. Titling often captures the main nugget of the dream and is your first step toward synthesis.

  • Optional: TV Guide Blurb. This is another great technique, a little longer than a title. It nuggets the main action of the dream, as if you were reading the preview of a program in your local TV listings. (I'd insert it right after the title, as an “executive summary.” When you use this technique, it’s important not to personalize it. For example, if I dreamt about a menacing, large dog chasing me named Spot, I would not write Spot chased me, bent on attack. I’d write, instead, A woman is chased by a mad dog. Why is this important? Dreams are often symbolic. The dog could mean a problem or another person who is “dogging” you. It’s important not to get too literal, or the blurb might solidify your thoughts about the dream too early and eliminate important interpretations. Again, titles and blurbs are usually first steps toward synthesis. Occasionally, they are the dream in a nutshell. These are happy occasions for their elegance and simplicity and save your poor head from all that scratching.
  • Record Your Thoughts About the Dream. While it’s still fresh, I write my unedited ideas about what I think it might mean. Of course, you can mull it over later, but again using the presumption that we are most in touch with intuitive and cosmic forces during the threshold time between sleep and waking, you will find most of your first ideas to be accurate.
  • Make Affirmations to Redirect Any Fears or Negative Feelings Identified. For example in a recent dream, someone was holding me hostage by holding my car keys so I could not leave. The scene was in my own apartment. I felt it had to do with feeling frustrated about how long it’s taking me to get one of my books published. I had no control; someone else had the keys. I could not “go.” I wrote these affirmations: I hold the power to my success, and I move forward with total ease and comfort.
  • What about Dream Dictionaries? Dream dictionaries are fine for dreamers to use, especially when you’re just getting started, as long as you don’t treat them like gospel. They often give the broadest, archetypal or universal meaning of a symbol. These are important to get to know. However, though dictionary will give you the symbol’s most generic meaning, it’s more likely that the dream is offering the symbol in a way that’s custom-fit for you. Therefore, it’s most important with practice to learn your specialized symbol system. Example: There was a love in my life that took me decades to get over, and I often had dreams of him set in San Diego, even though we met and spent time together in the Midwest. It took a long time before I deciphered that San Diego was a pun. Keene and I had met on a beach in our late teens, and San Diego meant “sandy ago.” My brain put him in the setting where we met but updated it to something more familiar to me now and more proximate to where I live currently.

Bringing material regularly from the subconscious to waking consciousness is one of the strongest practices for increasing your own sensitivity and intuition or psychic skills. These skills enhance problem-solving.

Dreams Are a Treasure

This is a lot of work. Like most treasures, dreams are something you have to dig for. Why is it worth it? 

First, dreams are a well of creativity, including the Mecca of creative problem solving. In one of my favorite books on the topic, the classic Higher Creativity: Liberating the Unconscious for Breakthrough Insights, authors Harmon Willis and Howard Rheingold talk about how the best solutions and creative insights happen when we are offlinesleeping, playing, putteringdreaming. Another example of this is when you just can’t remember a name or some bit of information, and the harder you try, the harder it is to remember. When you just forget it, the answer bubbles up on its own, in its own good time.

Thinking will only take us so far. Dreaming and other right-brained activities have to do the rest. Both sides of our brains perform vital functions. Dreams are the life’s blood of artists, writers, and more left-brained human beings that need some right-brained balance in their lives. 

Second and equally important, dreams are a psychological sorting ground, a place where we can express fears and feelings in a safe place we cannot often conjure in daily life. You can dream of beating up your boss, but I hope you wouldn’t dare do it. You can exaggerate your feelings in your dreams by being naked, an expression of feeling very vulnerable and exposed. Hopefully, you don’t streak down Main Street as an expression of how badly you feel. Dreams are a safety valve like the steam release on an old-fashioned pressure cooker. 

A final important point, dreams have an interface with our most treasured goals, those dreams of another kind. When it comes to our most desired goals, there is a great parallel between night dreams and waking goal dreams. They both require us to have vision, to listen carefully to cosmic signs, and to trust the process. Soon you’ll learn that night dreams lead to viewing your entire life as a symbol system. When a real dog chases you, it might be that you’re running from something or someone who’s nipping at your heels, and you can hardly run fast enough to get away from it or them. Look at this waking incident with the same interpretive eye as if you'd dreamt it. 

May all your good dreams come trueand may all the others be a great catharsis!


Photo Credit: © Luisa Venturoli -

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Lana said...

Dear Joyce
I love this theme and this series!
Two approaches which work for me are:-
1. If there are people I know in the dream, I identify their Sun Signs and that points the way to interpretation, e.g. often they are all of the same sign, which creates a theme.
2. If I wake in the night with a dream, I take a note of the time and cast a chart for it in the morning, which often reveals the meanings and symbolisms.
Looking forward to the rest of the month!

Joyce Mason said...

Lana, so glad you're enjoying the series. Thanks for adding these great techniques to the mix! I've used #1, but #2 never occurred to me. What a perfect way to mix dreamwork with astrology. I will have to try it.

Adding one of mine to your #2 idea, it would be the chart of (Dream Title). That'd be a nice cross reference from dream journal to Astro-software database.

Thanks for the share!

Love and pleasant dreams,