Let’s look at different methods for remembering dreams, from the simple to the serious. First, though, don’t expect to remember all of your dreams, or even all of a particular dream. Part of that has to do with the first method for remembering that I list below, but I also believe that some dreams are experiences that simply cannot be translated into written language, in the same way that no words can describe Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. You might also remember that you had a dream, but nothing would come back when you tried to recall it. Many times I have held pen in hand over my dream journal with a dream in mind and a complete inability to write down anything about it.
Dreams with a lot of emotional or energetic content are quite often remembered easily, and sometimes for an entire lifetime, even if they aren’t nightmares. But the Dream Techie needs to remember a lot more than those occasional special ones. Here are some methods to help in remembering dreams.
Changing the Wake Pattern. It’s a fact that most dreams often fade away quickly after waking up. I have developed two conclusions about that fact. One is that the content of some dreams just doesn’t translate well into our usual perceptions of experience. My other conclusion, supported by numerous experiments, is that a great many of our memories are associated with our body position at the time of the experience. In a similar way, dreams can be more easily remembered after you wake up by assuming the same position you were in when you awoke.
Even memorable dreams will fade quickly if, like many people, you immediately turn over, sit up, or get out of bed when you wake up. Frequently, I have been able to bring the memory of a dream back just by resuming the position I was in at the moment of being aware of being awake. The point is that even dream memory is often related to body position.
Dream Description. If you wake up during the night after a dream you want to remember, give it a brief description and put some emotion into it as you repeat it several times. I had a very involved dream that featured Kirk Douglas and a bookstore, so I repeated “Kirk Douglas and a bookstore” about half a dozen time with feeling before going back to sleep. I was able to recall that dream easily in the morning because the phrase came back to me, and the effect lasted for several days.
Another way is to give it a name, like detectives do with their cases. You might come up with something like “The Dream of the Orange Spider,” or “The Dream of the Sinking Ship” that would help you remember it in the morning.
Affirmation. I have found that if I confidently affirm to myself that I can remember the dream after a fadeout on awakening, this also helps to recall the dream.
Relaxation. Purposely relaxing your body in bed or in the shower will often work, too.
The Crystal Connection. I have experimented with putting many types of crystals (and even magnets) under my pillow or taped to my forehead before going to sleep. It doesn’t always work, but very often it increases the number of dreams I remember and their vividness. This one is my favorite that is still vivid after more than forty years.
“I am on a bus, apparently returning from the laundromat with fresh laundry. A small piece of chrysocolla is taped to my forehead and a woman on the bus looks at me oddly. I start to get off the bus, but have to get back on, because I almost forgot the towels. I notice that I am losing hair on top of my head and it seems related to the stone (I did have a chrysocolla stone taped to my forehead all night as an experiment).”
Change Direction. An odd method that I have used successfully may work for you. It’s based on the idea that aligning yourself with the magnetic field of the earth can have many beneficial effects. What it has done for me is to evoke very vivid dreams, which makes them easier to remember. In this method you sleep with your head toward magnetic north and your feet toward magnetic south (it isn’t automatic, because curling up breaks the link). Some people have found that a different orientation works better for them.
Journaling. By far, this is the most effective, tried and true method for remembering your dreams, used by all the great dreamers. My own journaling began in 1971 and was quite intensive into the 1990s, then less so as I finally decided that I no longer wanted to wake up after each and every dream, and then more so again as I began to write this book.
All it takes is a pen and a pad of paper next to your bed, AND the determination to record whatever dreams, parts of dreams, and half-awake thoughts you have during the night. You can do it as I did for many years, which was to write down in detail each and every dream I could remember by training myself to wake up after having a dream. Or you can do as I do now, which is to scribble keywords when I do wake up during the night and then do a fuller recording in the morning while having a coffee.
The first way provides a far richer source of dream information, because even though some dreams will still only be remembered in snatches, others will be so long and detailed as to merit being turned into a novel or short story. The down side of that, of course, is a lot of interrupted sleep. Using the keyword method I don’t remember as much, but there is still a lot of fascinating stuff to work with.
Dreaming Techniques by Serge Kahili King, Ph.D. © 2020 Bear and Company. Excerpted with permission from the publisher, Inner Traditions International. www.InnerTraditions.com
Serge Kahili King, Ph.D., is the author of many works on Huna and Hawaiian shamanism, including Urban Shaman and Instant Healing. He has a doctorate in psychology and was trained in shamanism by the Kahili family of Kauai as well as by African and Mongolian shamans. He is the executive director of Huna International, a non-profit worldwide network of individuals who have dedicated themselves to making the world a better place. http://www.huna.net/