Note: our friend Charles McPhee, the Dream Doctor, died recently at the early age of 49. These are his suggestions for better dream recall.
The key to having a rich dream life — is to learn how to wake up slowly — so that you can prolong contact with your subconscious mind.
Most of us, as soon as we awaken in the morning, allow our minds to wander off — worrying about work, or school, or getting the kids ready — or we begin talking with our spouse or bed partner about our schedules for the day. If you do not work to recall your dreams immediately upon awakening, you will have missed the crucial opportunity.
Waking up S L O W L Y means that you lie still in bed without talking, keeping your eyes closed, and working diligently to remember what it was you were just dreaming about — because we always dream just before we wake up in the morning.
If you don’t immediately recall a specific image or sequence from a dream, remain still. Dreams are not unlike waves on the shore. As we awaken, the waves are going out. But, if you stay still (for as long as 5 short minutes) and think to yourself, what was I just dreaming, those waves will return. When that happens, write them down immediately.
If the dreams remain elusive, evaluate your feelings. Dreams always leave us with an emotional “residue.” Did you wake up feeling tense, frustrated, happy, sad, worried? Were you looking for someone, or trying to accomplish a task?
Once you’re tuned in to your feelings, reach for your dream journal that you keep at your bedside (any pad of paper will do!) and write down six brief notes about the dream:
- What was the key image in the dream?
- Who was in the key person in the dream?
- What was the key action in the dream?
- What was the key feeling in the dream?
- Where was the dream located?
- What situation in your waking life does this dream remind you of?
These six questions will help you identify the dream’s meaning, and will help recall the dream later in the day, when we have more time to reflect upon it, in a clear-headed state. Another goal of writing down these six notes is that it helps keep your journal entry brief, making it easier to record faithfully. (It can be tough to write in the morning before we’ve had our coffee!)
The third step to having a rich dream life is the simplest of all. Before going to bed at night, confirm your intention to remember your dreams — to wake up slowly the following morning. If you sleep with a partner, be sure to ask him or her to give you some “quiet time” first thing in the morning.
It sounds simple — and it is! If you follow these 3 easy steps for two weeks, I guarantee that you will soon be starring in your dreams — on a daily basis!
Dreams are windows to the soul. Dreams enable us to know ourselves better, to make the right decisions in life, and to accomplish our goals. Like fishermen and women casting our lines into a magical ocean, we can all learn to access these empowering reflections of our rich inner lives. All that is required is intention and effort.
Let the dreams begin!