The Trouble with Dream Journals
Maybe this happens to you in your struggle to keep a dream journal: every once in awhile you go through a period of crazy, intense night-time dreams. You jot them down and you make your friends try to help you interpret them. Through these conversations with your friends and with yourself about your dreams, you come to know things about yourself that are shocking and yet deeply satisfying. You grow. You feel exultant and bigger. You say to yourself, "This is amazing. I have to be more disciplined about remembering my dreams. There's so much going on in them, and I'm totally missing out when I don't pay attention."
So you resolve to keep a dream journal by your bed. You get a nice, clean notebook and a fresh pen. You set them near your alarm and your glass of water. For a few mornings in a row you even succeed in writing down what you can recall. You have it there, in black and white, that your friend Gloria convinced you to dig up a corpse from the Allegheny Cemetery and annoint it with lavender oil and bring it to your high school reunion.
Then life speeds up. The pressure to wake up, jump out of bed and start doing stuff NOW increases. You don't feel you have the leisure to lie there and sleepily try to recall pertinent details: "Wait, I was in a castle - no, it wasn't just a castle, it was a school, but it was a fortress-like school controlled by evil aliens- and Tommy was there with me, we were eating pizza and feeling guilty about murdering someone - but then Tommy turned into John - and I had the definite impression that somehow he was my grandfather. Hmmmmmmm."
Your rational mind tells you you don't have the time to waste on all that nonsense. I wrote about this before - it's why you don't remember your dreams. Your ego wants you to know that you're an important, busy person who's well-being is threatened by a thousand practical pressures and who must take concrete action to fix things and make stuff happen.
In other words, keeping a dream journal is hard because it takes discipline, and we human beings have a limited amount of discipline at any given time. You might be using all the discipline you've got to keep yourself eating a healthful diet, and then you end up having none left over for the effort to keep a dream journal.
The good news is that discipline is like a muscle, and can grow stronger over time with exertion. After enough practice, it takes less effort to get yourself to eat healthfully, so then you have discipline-effort left over to beam onto your dream journal.
But a quicker route to committed dream journal keeping is to fuel up your motivation. And the simplest way to gather motivation is to get really clear about the why's and wherefore's of your desire to do this work. Put simply: what are you going to get out of it? What wonderful result will you have if you persist in keeping a dream journal for the next 90 days?
"Well, man, I don't know - it's like, a mystery. That's the whole point. I don't know what I'll find."
Okay, yeah, but there's something specifically alluring about that mystery, and we need to be really precise about that. We need to get our rational minds to cooperate with us in this endeavor, and in order for that to happen, our rational minds have to believe that they're going to get something out of this deal.
Here's my list of 5 amazing things that I believe will come from my keeping a dream journal for the next 90 days (which I'll be doing right here on this blog):
1. I'll a collection of far-out, deeply personal images and symbols that I can use in my poetry and art.
2. I'll be able to chart the relationship of my dreams to the cycle of the moon, and see how they synch up. This'll give me important knowledge to use in future dream interpretation work for myself and others.
3. I'll be more familiar with the things that tend to happen in my dreams - so I'll be more likely to become aware that I'm dreaming while I'm dreaming (i.e. become lucid) and then be able to do all sorts of fun lucid dream stuff.
4. I'll be able to gather information about my underlying feelings about my relationships that otherwise I wouldn't have access to (it's my experience that my dreams always tell me the truth of how I'm feeling even when I'm trying to lie to myself).
5. I'll finally learn some subtle spiritual lessons that the universe is trying to teach me which otherwise don't get through to my inhibited waking mind.
So those are my motivating reasons for keeping a dream journal for the next few months. Go ahead and take a few minutes right now to jot down your 5 reasons. I hope you'll write them in the comments section - maybe we can inspire each other.