A dream journal is a journal in which one records experiences that happen in the dream world. It can include only experiences that happen in dreams, or can also include personal reflections on dreams and experiences in the waking world that remind one of, or have had an influence on the dream state. The dream journal is perhaps the most essential tool for individuals who are interested in vivid and lucid dream work and in astral projection. Dream journals can help you to become more familiar with your dream world, making it easier to figure out when you are dreaming and to become lucid through that awareness.
A dream journal is also an amazing tool for improving dream recall. Often times, I wake up with just the smallest fragment of memory of a dream I have just had. If I go back to sleep right afterwards, I will almost always forget that small portion of the dream. However, if I get up and write down just what I remember, I will often find that more and more memories of the dream will start to enter my mind, and I will usually be able to work my way backwards and create a fairly comprehensive memory of my dream! The longer I practice using dream journals, the better I get at remembering the dreams, and the more familiar I become with my dream states! This is clearly extremely valuable for lucid dreaming work.
The very act of writing down your dreams as soon as you have them can improve future dream recall dramatically in a short period of time. Keeping a dream journal seems to condition the mind to see remembering dreams as important! My favorite way to keep a dream journal is in a notebook, because I can keep it by the side of my bed and record things as soon as I wake up. However, some people I know use small recording devices that they can speak their dream experience in to, which they feel is a little bit easier than writing down a lot of information just after waking up. There are even internet sites which offer the ability to create an online dream journal, if that is more up your alley!
If you want to start dream journaling in order to make your lucid dreaming work better, one of the key things is to search for dream signs. Dream signs are reoccurring themes which are found in numerous different dream experiences. If you become aware of these dream signs then, when you are dreaming and experience one of them you will be much more likely to recognize that you are dreaming. In many cases, just recognizing a dream sign will be enough to send the dreamer in to a state of lucidity.
I have also noticed that recording my dreams in a dream journal upon waking up has led to my experiencing an increase in false awakenings. False awakenings are those moments in which you think you have awoken but are, in fact, still dreaming. I have noticed that I will often wake up and start to record a dream in my dream journal, only to realize that I am still dreaming. Some individuals report writing their dreams down multiple times in the dream state before actually properly waking up and writing down the dream in the physical plane!
The average individual has five sleep cycles a night. At the end of each cycle there is a period of REM sleep. The closer it is to morning, the longer the periods of REM sleep become, so you are much more likely to remember your dreams when you wake up in the morning. This is the best time to write in your dream journal.
One interesting technique that you can use if you are having a tough time remembering dreams for your dream journal is known as anchoring. Just before going to sleep, choose an object that you can see clearly from your bed as your anchor. When you go to sleep and wake up, both during the night and in the morning, look at your anchor. When you look at it, say “I will remember my dreams”. This phrase acts as a trigger for the mind to relate to, reminding one to focus on the dreams and to associate the anchor with remembering dreams. Within a short period of time, looking at your anchor should help you to remember more of your dreams more often!
Some other quick tips for dream journaling: write down the date of your dream and then write down everything you can remember in the present tense. This will help you to remember more of your dreams by pulling you in to the moment. Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar, just get the dream written down in a fairly legible way. Also, once you are done writing down your dream, try taking note of any significant life issues that you feel may be related to that dream. This can help you to figure out what your dreams are trying to relate to you! Dream journals online are also helpful for some people because this allows them to share their dream experiences with others!
When you start writing your dream journal, you may find that you don’t remember much of your dreams, or that you don’t remember them very often. However, if you faithfully write down even the smallest memories as soon as you awaken, you will find that your dream memories will automatically become more fleshed out with time. Don’t get discouraged – with regular practice, your dream journal will become one of your most valuable dreaming tools, and will help you to learn how to experience regular lucid dreams in no time at all!