Have you ever lost touch with your dreams? Is your dream recall limited to fragments that fade away as you hurry off into the business and traffic of the day? Here is some advice from Robert Moss’s book, Active Dreaming, on how to give fresh breath to your relationship with your dreams.
- Set an intention for the night. Before sleep, write down an intention for the hours of dream and twilight that lie ahead. This can be a travel plan (“I would like to go to Hawaii” or “I would like to visit my girlfriend/boyfriend”). It might be a specific request for guidance (“I want to know what will happen if I change my job”). It could be a more general setting of direction (“I ask for healing” or “I open myself to my creative source”). You might simply say, “I want to have fun in my dreams and remember.”
Make sure your intention has some juice. Don’t make dream recall one more chore to fit in with all others. If you like, you can make a little ritual of dream incubation, a simple version of what ancients seekers did when they travelled to temples of dream healing, like those of Asklepios, in hopes of a night encounter with a sacred guide. You can take a spacial bath or shower, play a recording of sounds of nature or running water, and meditate for a while on the object or picture that relates to your intention. You might want to avoid eating heavily or drinking alcohol within a couple of hours of sleep. You could get yourself a little mugwort pillow- in folk tradition, mugwort is an excellent dream bringer- and place it under your regular pillow.
2. Be ready to receive. Having set your intention, make sure you have the means to honor it. Keep pen and paper (or a voice recorder) next to your bed so you are ready to record when you wake up. Recording something whenever you wake up, even if it’s at 3am. If you have to go to the bathroom, take your notebook with you and practice doing two things at once. Sometimes the dreams we most need to hear come visiting at rather anti-social hours, from the viewpoint of the little, everyday mind.
3. Be kind to fragments. Don’t give up on fragments from your night dreams. The wispiest trace of a dream can be exciting to play with, and as you play with it you may find you pull back more of the previously forgotten dream. The odd word or phrase left over from a dream may be an intriguing clue, if you are willing to do a little detective work.
Suppose you wake up with nothing more than a sense of a certain color. It could be interesting to notice that today is a Red Day, or a Green Day, to dress accordingly, to allow the energy of that color to travel with you, and to meditate on the qualities of red or green and see what life memories that evokes.
4. Still no dream recall? No worries. If you don’t remember a dream when you first wake up, laze in bed for a few minutes and see if something comes back. Wiggle around in bed. Sometimes returning to the body posture we were in earlier in the night helps to bring back what we were dreaming when we were in that position.
If you still don’t have a dream, write something down anyway: whatever is in your awareness, including feelings and physical sensations. You are catching the residue of a dream even if the dream itself is gone, As you do this, you are saying to the source of your dreams: “I’m listening. Talk to me.”
You may find that, though your dreams have flown, you have a sense of clarity and direction that is a legacy of the night. We solve problems in our sleep even when we don’t remember the problem-solving process that went on in our dreaming minds.
5. Remember, you don’t need to sleep in order to dream. The incidents of everyday life will speak to us like dream symbols if we are willing to pay attention. Keep a lookout for the first unusual or striking thing that enters your field of perception in the course of the day, and ask whether there could be a message there.