Do you dream at night? That’s really a trick question because the fact is everyone dreams. It’s just that some people have an easier time remembering their dreams than others. But if you’re interested in dreams, and are having trouble recalling them, I’ve got a few tips that may help.
Personally, I’ve been recording my dreams for over 20 years. I have a foot-high stack of notebooks to show for it. I go through stretches where I’ll record several dreams a week. But there are other times where I may only recall 2-3 dreams over the course of a month.
To freshen up my dream recall skills, I checked out a new book titled Dream Guidance, Connecting to the Soul Through Dream Incubation by Machiel Klerk. A licensed mental health therapist, Klerk has a master’s in counseling psychology. But more importantly, he’s a “dreamworker” who has travelled the world studying the dreams of different cultures. Klerk sees dreams as vital to our life experience:
Dreams have been revered for their medicinal powers and guiding abilities, as the dreamworld contains knowledge that is applicable for healing and for accessing our own inner guidance. All spiritual traditions believe that dreamers can ask questions about their relationships, vocation, spiritual queries, creative projects, and all matters related to physical and psychological healing.
Klerk believes that dreams “want to help us in our lives.”
The dream worker writes that when we have questions in our lives, be they romantic, professional, or financial, “the best answers are contained within ourselves.” The key is to learn the ability to retrieve our dreams and to do that, “we must learn and implement a dream incubation practice.”
While Klerk talks to a 5-step process that’s explained thoroughly in his book, I will cut it down to 3 simple steps for our purposes here. These are all steps I have been using for several years, which were reinforced by Klerk’s writings.
- Ask yourself: What do you want to know? Determine what question you want to ask before you go to sleep. What’s on your mind? Anything troubling you or do you need guidance in making an important decision? Identify a problem you’re trying to fix or answer you’re trying to find and ask for help in your dreams. Don’t get an answer right away? Ask the same question on consecutive nights.
- Engage in a ritual to enhance the dream response. Klerk suggests we use a nighttime ritual, including meditating before you got to sleep, to put yourself in the right frame of mind. I find the key is intention. I remind myself before shutting out the lights that I want to remember my dream. I even hold a pen and pad in my hands reminding myself I want to remember my dreams before placing them on my nightstand for easy access.
- Write your dreams down—fast. Upon awakening, dreams can be like quicksilver in your hands. As much as you might wake up in the middle of the night with a dream in mind and convince yourself you’ll remember it in the morning, that’s often not the case. You’ve got to have your pen and pad ready and jot down at least the main aspects of the dream before you fall back to sleep.
Next, you’ll want to reflect on your dream. What is the message the dream is offering you? Granted, sometimes they just don’t make sense. There are some dreams I think of as the equivalent of junk mail and chuck them. But other times, you’ve got to look beneath the layers at the symbols in your dreams and what they might represent.
For instance, I often find myself back at my childhood home and I know those dreams are often related to issues deep within my soul, who I am and what I am meant to do in the future. I also often find myself in New York City, a place I worked in for two decades, and those dreams usually have to do with my job and career. Look for the recurring themes in your dreams.
Sometimes dreams can foretell the future. I knew of a friend’s unexpected passing hours before it happened, encountering his wife in mourning in my dream. Other times dreams are symbolic. For instance, a plane taking off or even crash landing can represent aspiration and success—am I about to soar to new heights or in danger of falling back to earth and in need of a course correction?
Klerk believes you can create “the life of your dreams” if you just ask the right questions and keep an open mind. The answers are there, waiting for you to retrieve them. And all it takes is your intention, a pad and pencil, and a little effort. Do it on a regular basis, and you’ll find yourself exposed to a unique universe full of insights and guidance.