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January 29, 2007

An Intro to Dreaming (Part I: Dream Recall)

Posted in: dreaming,dreaming techniques,guide to lucid dreaming,resources

Welcome to part I in the introduction to lucid dreaming series. This is going to be a fairly easy segment to accomplish, so you’ll be jumping right in. Hopefully you won’t have much trouble. Now, without further ado, here is what we’re covering first:

Dream recall

The ability to remember your dreams.

Dream recall is essential to lucid dreaming, for very obvious reasons. It is the main building block for everything else, and as such, is our starting point. Most people remember dreams only occasionally, so don’t be discouraged if this is where you’re starting from. Also, let me make this clear: Everybody dreams, but not everyone remembers it. Everybody can learn to recall their dreams, so don’t be discouraged if you aren’t starting with much. Conversely, if you’re one of the fortunate few who does remember dreams frequently, there is still most likely room to improve. The ultimate recall would be every dream every night down to the faintest detail. So we all have something to work on.

I have simplified the factors of dream recall down to three (the affirmations are a bonus) things:

What was I just dreaming?
Taking time each morning to stop and focus on remembering your dreams.

This is the most important step for somebody just starting out, as it will give you something to work with.

As soon as you wake up, lay still. Keep your eyes closed, and try and remember what you were just dreaming. Try asking yourself “what was I just doing/dreaming/thinking/feeling?” as a way of jogging your memory. After recalling as much as you can, even if it is just a feeling, pick out what seem to be the most important parts of the dream. Try to keep it to just a few. These will be our “anchors” later on. Now that you’ve got those picked out, try and make them stick by telling yourself (in your head) how important it is that you remember them. Using powerful emotional associations can sometimes help. Next, you’ll go through the steps of dream journaling, detailed in the next section.

Dream journaling
The practice of keeping a journal of your dreams.

Another essential component for long term improvement in dream recall is keeping a dream journal. This simply entails keeping a small journal with a pencil next to your bed, perhaps with a light.

Now take those anchors from before and write them down into your dream journal. This will help you keep the main points of the dream fresh. After doing that, flesh out the details using the anchors as well, anchors. Get as much detail as you can remember. Although this is exhaustive, it will also increase your results. If you don’t think you have the willpower to keep this up, then only do it in the beginning until you’ve got decent recall. Then you can skimp a little more. Just remember that ultimately, what you don’t write down will be forgotten.

The first two were direct influences. These last two are more indirect.

Affirmations as you are falling asleep
Repeating a phrase to yourself as you drift off

This is useful for increasing recall in the beginning when you’ve got little to nothing to work with. As you’re falling asleep repeat to yourself: “I remember my dreams daily upon awakening, I will remember my dreams” Or something similar. The idea is that you believe it and influence your subconscious to act on it, sort of like hypnosis. I find this generally helps out when you wake up.

The amount of REM sleep you get
Making sure to get adequate sleep.

This is fairly self explanatory, but just to make sure we’re on the same page: REM sleep is Rapid Eye Movement sleep, which is when dreaming typically takes place. You get significantly more REM sleep in later parts of the night, as you are farther into your sleep cycle. This is because later sleep cycles have a longer REM period. These are the most vivid, longest, and generally most enjoyable dreams. So if you cheat your sleep, you lose the best REM.


A few important points to reiterate:

Don’t give up after a few tries, anybody can remember their dreams.

Don’t stop working at it after only a few tries, you will lose it if you don’t keep up with it.

Keep a dream journal.
This is paramount. If you do nothing else, this will keep your recall at good levels.

If you’re just now joining us, you may wish to check out the introduction.
I hope you find this helpful in developing recall. I also hope to see you in part II.

You can always email me if you have questions regarding these techniques. Feel free to leave a comment as well.

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-Hatter

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