How to Increase Dream Recall

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Dreams are storehouses of creative inspiration to help you create new artistic works, solve problems at work and in your relationships, heal emotional wounds and even physical illnesses, learn new skills, and find greater spiritual fulfillment, all the while allowing you to explore and have fun during the third of life that we all spend asleep.

Wouldn’t you like to remember your dreams more and start really experiencing the powerful benefits your subconscious has to offer you every night?

The main barrier to recalling and benefiting from dreams is that waking and dreaming memory aren’t connected nearly as well as they could be with greater intention, practice and focus. Making a relatively consistent effort to remember and especially to record your dreams will help your waking mind align and integrate your dream experience. It’s also an excellent way to increase imagination and intuitive capabilities, which are both intimately connected with dreams. This alone should provide strong incentive.

The following also are key:

• It’s important to want it: First and foremost, you must feel that it will be useful to you, if not extremely valuable. Without this intention, motivation will soon disappear. More importantly, the desire acts as a subjective magnet which draws your dreams into memory.

• Focus and attention: Understand that dream recall is an inherent, natural human trait. That is why young children are quite in touch with their dreams, as are many native cultures, some of which even share their dreams with each other daily and base important life actions upon guidance they receive. Dream recall is like a mental muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Without exercise it may shrink, but it is there if you decide to work it out again. So if your recall is poor, trust that it will come in time, and the trust itself will actually help since expectation is a powerful subjective tool.

• Bedtime practice:
Before sleep, reread your dreams from the night (or more) before. This allows you to begin to connect with your dream memory, and is also an opportunity to interpret your dreams and spot connections to the day’s events. Then, as you go to bed, clearly request (rather than command) yourself to remember any dreams when you awaken in the morning or during the night, especially ones that would be beneficial to you.

Also remind yourself that it’s a simple, natural process that happens by itself anyway. You can also suggest to yourself to spontaneously awaken when you need to without using an alarm, since any strong external perception such as a loud noise can inhibit recall. This method works well with practice, but you may initially wish to set your alarm for 15 minutes after your suggested wake-up time, just to be safe.

Whenever you awaken, keep your eyes closed (or shut them if already open) and remain as motionless as possible. If you moved since waking, return to your earlier body position. Gather as many images, impressions, feelings, body sensations or waking thoughts as you can. A helpful technique is to think of it like fishing. Gently, cast out your intention to remember a dream, and wait a little to see what comes. As soon as you get anything, no matter how brief or vague they may at first seem, rise and immediately record (or write, draw, paint, etc.) it in a journal or speak into a tape recorder (which you keep bedside).

You’ll be surprised at how much more you remember as you begin writing, speaking, drawing, painting, etc.

• Be playful, patient, and persistent: Although most people start having success the first week or two, dream recall is a mental muscle that may require some time to get back into shape. Try to maintain a relaxed and playful attitude of looking forward to your dreams while being willing to let them come all in good time. Trying too hard or being too serious can be limiting factors.

Dream recall and motivation tend to come and go naturally in cycles and also depend upon what else is going on in your life, and on how much sleep you get, how much you exercise, etc. Once you begin a period of focusing on recall, stick with it for at least a few days, because consecutive nights can have an additive effect.

• A weekly study group: Meeting others with a shared interest in dreams is unmatchable for sustained motivation, inspiration and plenty of intriguing surprises and insights.

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Craig Sim Webb, former board member of IASD [www.asdreams.org] and Executive Director of the DREAMS Foundation [www.dreams.ca], is a physicist, dream researcher, author and inventor. Craig is a McGill University graduate with over a dozen years experience researching, applying, and teaching about dreams and consciousness. He has participated in dream research at Stanford University and Sacre-Coeur Hospital, and has made hundreds of media/public appearances concerning dreams, nightmares, lucid dreaming, consciousness and practical psychology including BBC, The Discovery Channel, AOL, ABC, CTV, CBC, and many others worldwide.

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