Keeping a Dream Journal

How to work with Dreams

Keeping a dream Journal requires regularity and discipline. In my own experience I have found that it is best to try and record them before one gets out of bed in the morning so they do not slip back into the unconscious. Dreams need to be worked with and understood in relationship to the pattern of one's life as a whole. Try and be mindful before bed and tell yourself: I am going to remember my dreams in the morning and write them down when I wake up. Be intentional about this and use your sleep induction as a form of incubation. Another helpful technique is to read your dreams from the previous nights, weeks, or months before you fall asleep. Shut off all noise after dinner, including social media and the news and use some meditation methods or yoga to still your mind. If you have a dream during the middle of the night or early morning, try and get up and write it down while sitting up in bed, or speak it into a voice recorder. While writing down your dreams try and re-enter the atmospherics of the dream and note how you felt with regards to each image or symbol. Recognizing emotions while reflecting on your dream states is very important in dream interpretation later on, in psychotherapy or inner work. Read C. G. Jung to help understand what your dreams mean and consider seeing a Jungian analyst or psychotherapist. 

Journaling

Do emotions make us ill? Can the journaling method outlined below help heal a patient in analysis from emotional ailments? How can a journaling technique be therapeutic? By journaling method, I mean the discovery, through mythopoetic language, of one’s personal myth. This discovery may happen through writing as meditation. Walt Whitman called this method “Vocalism”: “the divine power to speak words.” Here are some further questions to consider: What part does the imagination play in healing emotional disorders? One solution to emotional suffering is to give voice to one’s personal myth―following one’s own individual Way―aided by the technique of mythopoetic journaling.

Transforming negative emotions

       Here are some helpful hints to facilitate dream interpretation or better understanding of the meaning of dreams. Now, let’s try this simple exercise to get at some dream meanings: First sit down somewhere comfortable, breathe deeply, then pick up your journal and pen. See during your inward meditations if an emotional-image comes to mind from your dreams. Now try and let your words breathe fluidly onto your journal’s pages, taking careful note with each exhale and inhale; watching your breath as it ebbs and flows. A panacea for disquiet is quiet, silence, and mindfulness to what is present in the moment. So, first be quiet, be still and listen to the stream of words and images within. Notice if you are sweating, or if your heart is racing; let your thoughts, feelings, intuitions, and sense impressions run freely onto the page. As you pen your thoughts, notice any psychological or somatic changes that may occur, or not, and try not to hesitate during your writing; let it be spontaneous, automatic, let it flow. Do not force your language to conform to some preconceived plan in any way; be open to the moment; let go, let be. If you notice that words are not flowing, be with that and bring it forth onto the page.

Now try this simple experiment: Take another deep breath and do not censor or criticize your writing in any manner; observe the moments of stillness and silence between your words; pay attention. If an emotion arises in your body, let it speak its own thoughts; let your imagination be your guiding mythopoetic principle. Now, begin to see if there’s a shift in your consciousness and notice if you can observe your thoughts objectively; try and get outside your subjective lens of normative awareness to a place of psychic objectivity. If you can, objectify what you have just written by seeing more democratically the oneness and unity of all things; then find your place in it while writing. Mythopoetic writing can be therapeutic just as psychotherapy can. And it is valuable to use this method to engage with the full range of emotions, dark and light, and to reflect on and embody your experience. The aim of mythopoetic journaling is to become more deeply embodied and free from the grip of any positive or negative emotions, so that one can consciously create transformative images and new insights out of them. Remember also that the pen is an instrument that must be kept finely tuned; so practice is necessary, like any other discipline. As a psychotherapist and a poet and writer, I encourage some of my adult patients and some adolescents, and even a few children, to keep two journals: 1) a dream journal and 2) a journal for processing one’s thoughts, sensations, feelings, and experiences. Mythopoetic journaling can assist in relieving emotional and somatic suffering and experiencing more inner and outer peace; so don’t forget to journal and write as often as you can. Enjoy!