Hold fast to your dreams?
On the first night of a weekend Dream Poetry workshop I offered to a group of writers, I suggested the participants try to remember their dreams. I offered them my standard instructions for improving dream recall:
Place a notebook and pen by the side of your bed, write down your intention to remember your dreams, then when you wake (in the middle of the night or in the morning) write down any dreams you recall. If you don’t remember any dreams, in the morning simply write down something that you do remember about your experience of sleep.
The next morning, I sat in the circle with my dreamer poets, and asked how they slept. I was met with an uncomfortable silence as participants shifted in their seats.
Finally one participant spoke up. “None of us could sleep!”
“What happened?” I asked.
“I was trying so hard to remember my dreams that the effort kept me awake,” one woman explained. And a chorus of nodding heads confirmed the problem.
Despite the desperation in their bleary eyes, I couldn’t help but smile. “I’ve never had such a Type A group before,” I said. “My instructions last night were meant as a suggestion, not a challenge!”
We all had a good laugh, then enjoyed some hot mugs of coffee to get us through the day.
That evening I refined my instructions and reminded the group to hold the intention to recall their dreams lightly. And lo and behold, my creative dreamers slept soundly, and most of them recalled their dreams–and many an inspired poem was written
And the moral of this story is?
Keep a light touch
It’s great, and even noble I believe, to set an intention to remember your dreams–but don’t grasp too tightly. It is better to recall one or two dreams a week–or even a month–and take the time to really connect with them, than it is to grab as many dreamy handfuls as you can just for the sake of it.
As with all intentions, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. Dreams are a natural and healthy by-product of sleep, and we dream every night whether we remember them or not. Keeping a pen and paper beside your bed, and connecting each night with your intention to recall your dreams, is a good practice for many reasons including improving dream recall, and improving our mindful, conscious experience of our lives awake, asleep, and dreaming. But most important is to have a friendly and cozy relationship with sleep and dreams.
It’s not a competition and there is no right answer when it comes to how many dreams you can recall. Keep the door open for dreams to come to you by affirming your intention to receive the ones that want your attention, and you will create a healthy relationship with your dreaming mind.
So, enjoy the dreams that come to you, and enjoy your rest, too!
If you’re ready to sleep and dream better, book a dreamwork consultation with me and I’ll help you learn to take a mindful approach to bedtime, and discover the meaning and messages in your dreams to support you all day long.
My book The Mindful Approach to a Good Night’s Sleep is chock full of information and exercises to support you in sleeping and dreaming better. And it’s now available for pre-order!