Why You Should Keep a Dream Journal!
The melody for the Beatles classic ‘Yesterday’ came to Paul McCartney in a dream. Einstein was known to have had several headways in his experiments through dreams he had and recorded.
The above examples point to one thing – dreams can have direct and extraordinary impact on your waking life. But dreams are fleeting, and our waking mind wipes out most of them. How then to channel the potential of your dreams into your waking life? Keep a dream journal.
McCartney and Einstein didn’t just dream those significant dreams, they found a way to record, analyze, and assimilate them. Dreams are made of our daily experiences, images and feelings we encounter in real life. Often they reveal a pattern by connected or recurring themes, and help us know ourselves better. But that is just the beginning of all the way recording dreams can be great for your brain.
Benefits of keeping a dream journal
It allows you a glimpse into the subconscious
In our waking life, we are not aware of a significant chunk of our brain that keeps the deepest part of our mind – like primal emotional instincts like fear and attraction. When we are asleep, these parts of the brain start their work; for example most of our long-term memory and learning consolidation happens during the deep sleep state. Our dreams are like a window to these latent parts of our brain. They throw up patterns and images that seem unconnected to the rational mind, but have deeper connections forged in the subconscious mind.
Helps process emotions
First of all, journaling in itself is an amazing stress reducing activity. Taking a quiet moment out of your daily routine to sit down and purely reflect has a calming effect on your mental and physical health. It helps resolve many pressing issues. When you are chronicling your dreams, you have a chance to address issues that go even deeper and have been repressed over time. A huge part of our stress comes from unresolved issues in our past. By offering a deeper look at our unconscious, dreams give us an opportunity to discover those issues and take action on them.
Creativity is the ability to think laterally, associatively, and connect seemingly unconnected ideas. Dreams, therefore, is the purest form of creativity because our dream logic is in most part completely different from our waking logic. The waking rules of association don’t work in dreams; they match random images from our long-term memory with random thought processes. For example, you might have recurring dreams of water and drowning in a period of acute stress in your life. They don’t depict the specific stressful situation you are having, but they depict the pressure and fear you are feeling by connecting it to the fear of drowning. When you chronicle and analyze these associations, your waking mind too starts to learn making lateral associations, improving your creative thinking overall.
Preserves great ideas
Dream-thinking often connects ideas and situations in such a way that can have brilliant implications for real life. It may inspire a story or work of art, like the novel ‘Frankenstein’. Or it may have a completely new way of looking at something which you have been missing all along, like with Einstein’s ideas.
Prepares you for stress
In most of us, dreams are seldom happy and peaceful. More often than not we wake up confused, surprised, or even anxious from the things we saw in our dreams. This happens because dreams occur during REM sleep and this is the time when the Amygdala, or your brain’s fear center is most active. Our fight-or-flight response or threat response originates from this area. By exercising and inducing stress during our dreams, our subconscious mind is trying to prepare us for threats that are present but our rational mind has not yet identified.
How to keep a dream journal
- Keep a diary or writing pad beside your bed so you can scribble it down the moment you wake up and the dream is still fresh.
- Write whatever fragments you first remember. More usually come back through association while writing or even later while going through the dreams even if you don’t remember them at first.
- Try to record information like date, time, duration of sleep, where you were sleeping (your bedroom, someone else’s house, a flight) while having the dream etc.
- Write down how you felt during the dream and after you woke up. Where you calm, happy, or sweating, trembling, feeling afraid? Did your feelings during the dream differ from the feeling you had after waking up? Note everything down.
- Identify patterns and themes over time, and write what you think they could mean or relate to.
Dreams are a wonderful world to explore, and they hide many deep clues about our own selves and most importantly our brain. Journaling dreams are sure beneficial, but they are also super fun. Why not give it a go?