January 8th, 2016
Guest writer for Wake Up World
Since as far back as I can remember, dreaming for me has always been an invitation for a new and exciting adventure. As a child I would lay my head on the pillow each night with a big smile on my face in anticipation of the new journey ahead, something that felt like a hand reaching from some other world in equal anticipation of my arrival.
As I got older and began to move deeper into this world through my own experiences in therapy, I began to realize the power this realm held and how it was there to help and empower me in my life. I began to see this encounter I had with myself each night as a special relationship with a part of myself that was deepening the more I moved into it and explored it. As I moved deeper, I started to realize the messages that were there, the healing that was taking place, the creative problem solving that was happening, and the ways in which bringing forth this experience into my waking life was changing it in a very palpable way.
My dreams have become one of my most cherished friends. They are an ally and a guide. They are my wise mind, my child mind, and my quantum mind speaking to me-sometimes all at once and sometimes one at a time. Sometimes the messages ring loud and clear, sometimes there are no messages at all and instead an invitation to have an experience beyond the ordinary.
If remembering your dreams is a challenge for you, do not fret. Think of your dream life as a relationship, a relationship with another part of yourself that with time (as in any relationship you want to cultivate) will deepen over time as you get to know the landscape. Here are some strategies to help:
6 Ways to Enhance Dream Recall
1. Write down your dreams
The best time to remember your dreams is 90 seconds after you awake. Write down your dreams immediately upon awaking. If you don’t have time, write down the key themes or recite the dream to yourself while in the shower or getting ready. If you can only remember a fragment whether it be a single image or a single thought or feeling, write this down. If you remember a scene, ask what happened before that particular scene. It will start to jog your memory and more fragments will emerge. If they don’t, over time they will.
2. Focus your intention
What you focus your attention on will grow. Therefore, if your intention is to remember your dreams and record your dreams, focus this intention and your dream life will begin to expand. There are many ways to focus your intention and cultivate your dream life. Get yourself a dream journal specifically for this purpose. Before going to sleep, say the following affirmations or some version of them. (Keep in mind these are particularly powerful if said as you are drifting off into sleep.) “I am a dreamer. I remember my dreams in detail. My dreams are here to help me. My dreams will reveal to me only the elements of my life I am ready to see and handle.” In addition to these affirmations, visualize yourself awakening the next morning with full recall of your dreams from the night prior. If you meditate, include these affirmations and visualizations in your practice. If you don’t meditate, now might be the time to start!
3. Know you are safe
One reason dreams may be difficult to remember is because of an unconscious resistance to seeing what they might reveal about yourself. If this is the case, you can remind yourself that nothing emerges in your mind or life that you cannot handle.
4. Share your dreams
Share your dreams with someone you trust. Engaging with your dreams (which is really engaging with a part of yourself) will bring this part of yourself further into existence as you are claiming its importance and right to be. By sharing dreams, either verbally or by writing them down, you are also acknowledging that you trust this part of yourself. When you trust, you nurture and when you nurture, things manifest.
5. Nutritional support
My favorite herbal remedy for dream recall and enhancing dream imagery is mugwort. Mugwort is a plant that lives in Northern Europe, Asia, Alaska and North America. Its active compound is Thujone and it’s often described as a ‘stepping stone’ to lucid dreams. You can smoke it or brew its leaves to make tea. Vitamin B6 is also known to help so boosting your dietary intake or taking supplements (100 milligrams a day being the recommended dose) might be worth a try.
6. Wake naturally
Whenever possible, wake up naturally rather than to the sound of an alarm clock. It enhances dream recall because it is more conducive to dreams lingering into our conscious mind as we slowly rise out of REM sleep. If you cannot live without an alarm clock, take advantage of down time in your schedule. The best time to practice dream recollection is during a weekend or a vacation, when you can maximize your opportunity to awaken with your body’s natural clock. You can also take advantage of extended naps. During naps longer than 20 minutes, the brain goes into the REM stage of sleep, the stage of sleep when dreams happen. If you are able to wake soundly from an extended nap, take advantage of this time to also recollect dreams.
Related reading on Wake Up World:
- How to Induce Lucid Dreaming
- How to Maintain a Lucid Dream
- Overcoming Nightmares Through Lucid Dreaming
- 7 Reasons to Record Your Dreams
- Active Dreaming: Exploring the Vivid Dreamscape
- The Benefits of Dream Recall – and Tips to Help You Do It
- Lucid Dreaming as a Gateway to Spiritual Awakening
- Dreams Are Another Reality
- The Subconscious Storybook: The Benefits of Writing Down Your Dreams
About the author:
Danielle Benvenuto is a psychotherapist and energy healer who specializes in psychoanalysis, energy work, and mindfulness meditation making the work she does integrative in nature. Tuning into the body, nature, dreams and the healing power of sound and visualization are important elements in her work as is working directly with the breath to heal the mind and body. She holds workshops in NYC and internationally on topics such as integrating mindfulness with psychotherapy, using imagery to transform trauma, and the art of manifestation. She is also a guest lecturer at NYU and has written articles on various topics. To learn more about Danielle’s work visit daniellebenvenuto.com.