Posts tagged #dream journal

A Dream Journal: How to Be Motivated to Keep One

image: [Andrew.Beeb]

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.


Gathering Motivation

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.


Posted on April 11, 2012 and filed under Dreams.

Dream #5: The Fundamentalist Compound where the earth resurrects a baby

Sonny and Cher run a fundamentalist cult compound

I'm watching a documentary about Sonny and Cher.  They're running a ranch.  The have a huge family-- a narrator says, "Sonny liked to make Cher jealous by cheating on her Friday nights; Cher made Sonny jealous by attracting the attention of the whole village."


There's a scene where a young Cher is playing tennis on the ranch, her long hair swinging around her waist.


Then cut to a rag-tag group of 20 young teen boys.  They're all kids from the same compound; there's about 100 of them total and they split into 5 different groups and fight each other.  There's not enough adults around to control them.  It's like Lord of the Flies. 


Then cut to a scene of a bare-chested and muscled man crowing and strutting, strapped with guns.  He grabs Cher (who is now me) by the waist under a picnic shelter and says to her, "God, I need to make love to you, I need to have a reunion of the tribe, whatever it takes-- no more divisions" and with that he orders the warring factions of the compound to unite.  He says cliques of women have to be separated and declares that his men "take apart close friends" and for all the men to find new wives among the girls.  He advises them, "hit on a girl who's humming" -- meaning someone innocent.


A baby comes back to life 

Next scene, still on the ranch: a man is cradling a baby.  The baby's face is dirty-- her head is at an odd angle-- she's dead.  The baby is just about two weeks old. The man sings to the baby while he digs her a very shallow grave in the loose dirt with one hand.  He puts the baby in the grave and covers her with dirt.  He then walks away.  The view stays on the baby. Close up on the baby's face.  I see that her nose and mouth are still uncovered by dirt.  She starts breathing again, miraculously.  It seems that the earth has brought her back to life rather than accepting her as a buried corpse.


The baby is somehow strong-- it wiggles out of the dirt.  A young woman (me) comes by and picks her up and starts caring for her.


Next, the young woman is inside a cabin, the baby is cleaned up.  The young woman is cuddling and cooing to the baby, who responds with total joy.


A guy comes up to the ranch, a military man in a face uniform and jeers at the shirtless leader and his army of vicious young boys, "You're not even as rich as a mormon," the military man says to the leader, "You little budgets" (he's calling the boys "budgets")


I have a sense of being very attracted to the gun-bearing leader.  I feel pity for the little lost boys.  I feel adoration for the baby-- its tiny little body.




Posted on October 2, 2011 and filed under Dream Journal.

Dream #4: Mr. Hyde at Family Dollar, Hanging with the bad kids

Thinking Aloud Maybe it's better that in the dream log I just offer dreams without any ruminations. More mysterious that way, no?



Mr. Hyde at Family Dollar

I'm milling around Family Dollar, writing on a notebook in pink lipstick -- except I haven't bought either the notebook or the lipstick yet. I have a big pile of stuff in a cart that I don't really want to buy.  I start putting some of it in my purse.  Then I have this moment of clarity like-- hey, wait a minute-- what am I doing?  Then somehow the knowledge comes to me that I've been on a spree of stealing and other questionable activity for days and days, but totally blacked out and taken over by some other personality-- a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde situation. I drop the notebook and the lipstick, leave the other stuff in the cart and exit the store.


The Bad Kids

Next thing I know I'm all wrapped up with a group of people who reminded me of the ne'er do-well art students I hung out with right after high school.  They dress in black leather.  They always have very tough dogs and very improbably tender little woodland animals (bunnies and squirrels) on leashes with them.  They roll up into my house with their little bunnies on leashes; put on pounding electronic music, then set up cameras to film themselves and me sleeping and having sex.  They regard this not as pornography exactly but as an especially important art project.  There's a sense of family around them, as if they all belong to each other.  I have the feeling that whether I'm okay with it or not, they've adopted me into this family and consider me one of them.  There's a big to-do about setting up the cameras just right on the tripods.  I feel like I love them and I want them but I'm afraid of them and what they might end up doing to me as they carry an aura of violence.

Posted on September 29, 2011 and filed under Dream Journal.

Dream #3: The urgent message, the botanical argument, the dirt floor of ancient China

The Dreams In a rush this morning, so just three parts of a dream, with no commentary.



The Urgent Message

I'm on a bicycle. I have a mission to be somewhere, very fast. I'm riding along the tops of walls, through dense crowds. I'm carrying a package.  I have a sense that I'm on a college campus. Lots of young people are resting along one wall that I need to travel. They have cell phones in their hands, on top of the wall-- they're texting. I have to ride over their hands as they text.  I'm yelling at them as I'm zooming along-- "Coming through! Coming through! Move your hands! I don't want to hurt you! Move!"


The Botanical Argument

Next, I see a young man out in the wilderness with two other men.  The young man is carrying a package in the form of a long tube, and I have the sense that I'm seeing myself (whoever I just was as I rode the bicycle through the crowd).  The men I'm with start threatening me.  I open the cylinder I'm carrying and draw from it a large sheaf of rolled-up posters-- exquisitely beautiful photographic posters depicting all kinds of botanical and geological wonders.  I'm shouting at the men.   I'm showing them image after image on my posters, making some kind of very emphatic point.  I start to notice, though, that half the posters I'm supposed to have are missing.


The Dirt Floor of Ancient China

Next, I'm a little toddler girl crawling on a dirt floor under a table which is part of an exhibit at a museum.  I feel the dirt floor with my hands and say to my mother, who is hovering above me, that I want to learn all about women and feminism in ancient China. Somehow the dirt floor is an exhibit on ancient China, which teaches me its truths as I run my hands over its bumpy dirt.




Dream #2: The Red Velvet Room with Two Sisters, The Urine-Soaked Sweater, and the Spiritual Conspiracy

The Dreams  

A red velvet room.  I'm interacting with and watching two teenaged girls who are a chubby and so distressed by it-- they feel left out of all social happenings, scorned, inferior.  Both of the girls have long dark hair.  They're sisters.  The younger one is thinner than the older one, but the younger one is more distressed and more self-conscious.



I'm getting ready to clean a broken toilet and the sleeve of my favorite sweater, the one with the fur collar, drops in and gets soaked with urine.  I'm momentarily repulsed but I decide to clean it in the sink by letting it soak in water with soft detergent. I feel a kind of pride in this simple hands-on laundry action. My mother is in the background, working on her own stuff.


There's a kind of conspiracy plot going on which looks shady but which is actually designed to help me.  I'm a young, male high school athlete who gets coerced into going out to the wrong side of the rail road tracks late at night to meet up with a gang of thugs who have something I really want.  I show up there and have a kind of tense confrontation-- after I leave, a figure steps out of the shadows and pays the thugs big piles of cash for going through the whole drama with me-- the figure paying the thugs is talking to them about my spiritual growth and his hopes for my future, explaining to them about how hard it is for me to have to talk to and work with disreputable characters like themselves.


The Feelings, the Associations


So, first off the red velvet room reminded me immediately of Twin Peaks. Except my dream was a lot less freaky, sadly.




I get a sense that the two dark-haired sisters who are self-conscious about chubbiness might represent my present and past self-- when I was younger I was thinner than I am now and also a lot more hung-up about it.  Today, I'm working on losing some pounds, but I'm doing it all crazy-healthy like, via a nutritarian diet. Seemed like the dream was speaking to me about lingering anxieties that I have in that arena.


My beautiful sweater getting soaked in urine -- a frustrating result of my own carelessness (why did I have the sweater with me in the bathroom to begin with?)-- this felt like a very daily, unsurprising misfortune that might happen to me-- but there was something about this object which is so sleek, sexy and nice getting all messed up in the toilet which was particularly gross. To get a little Freudian, I think it make have something to do with feeling like my sexuality is being dirtied or lowered.


My pride in the simple solution of soaking the thing in soapy water -- a feeling of resourcefulness, of joy in knowing how to do slight house-wifey type stuff.  My mother's presence-- seem to suggest her own hard work, her own sexual issues mirroring mine.


Finally, the conspiracy between the figure and the hoodlums might be the most interesting dream of the night.  It gives me some hope-- like maybe some of the scary and difficult things going on for me right now might all really just be agents of a force who's working for my higher good.  Wouldn't that be sweet?


The Mystery

The mystery of the dirtied sweater is the plaintive song of a dead crooner.


Your Response to Me

As perpetually, I'm open to hearing your thoughts about what any of these dreams mean-- and I'm also interested to hear what you've been dreaming about lately?




The Start of My Dream Journal - Dream #1: The Pet Store

The Decision I've decided to start keeping a public dream journal.  I'm always going on and on to my students online and offline about the importance of keeping a dream journal in their commonplace books, and I fully believe in being the example for those I'm working with, but it's sort of hard to let them see me walking my walk when my dream journal is a secret little thing I keep under my pillow.




But laying out the contents of my subconscious mind for all to see is a rather radical thing to do, isn't it?


It is, but my heart tells me to "be a transparent rose" so that's what I'm doing this morning and all mornings for the next 7 weeks. I'm lacing myself together with rosy-fingered dawn in order to tell you some tales straight outta my subconscious.


So here's a bit of what happened in dreamworld last night.  It's the tale end of a dream.  I woke up at 6:00 am, my alarm going off, with my most urgent thought being "I have to quiet that alarm before it disturbs my partner" rather than "I have to remember my dream."  Having an urgent thought like that, I notice, disrupts my dream-memory process. So I only remembered the last little bit of what I sense was a much larger dream.


The Dream

Here's what I remember: I see an elderly man, homeless.  He wants to get into a pet store to use the rest room.  The door to the pet store is locked even though there are employees inside. The employees won't let him in.  The elderly man enlists the help of a little boy to trick the door open.  Somehow, the boy is able to open the door.  He props the door open with a little trash basket which has magical door-propping properties.  The elderly homeless man goes in and uses the rest room.  I wake up.


The Feelings, The Associations

I felt identified with the elderly homeless man. Earlier in the day, when driving out of a shopping center, Dey and I saw a man standing on a traffic island, holding a sign around his neck that said "Homeless."  Also earlier in the day, I'd been getting angry about income disparity in the US, thinking about Occupy Wall Street and had posted this Thomas Jefferson quote to facebook:

‎"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs".

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of US (1743 - 1826)

So Thomas Jefferson is talking about homelessness engendered by corporations and financial institutions that are threatening our American liberties.  And I'm seeing homeless people. And the folks occupying Wall Street are camping out in a park, without a roof. And I feel identified with them, too.


Why was it a pet store? Well, I'm in love with a little pomeranian named Sparkle who lives in the window of a pawn shop on Liberty Avenue in Bloomfield.  She's always alone in there at night with the DVDs and funky old electronics, behind the half-shattered window.  I can't get to her.  No one is loving her and cuddling her at night. I feel like she's homeless, too.  So the pawn shop isn't exactly a pet store, but it holds a pet (Sparkle).


So the old man in my dream was homeless and breaking in to a place that I associate with homelessness (the pawn shop / pet store).  I feel afraid of homelessness, poverty, the condition of the outcast.


The wily little boy is a mystery to me. Who's he?


The Mystery

This is something I like to do for my dreams-- to make a metaphor out of a mystery in them-- so as to deepen and extend the mystery. The metaphor pattern goes like this: The mystery of ___________ is _____________."


So, the mystery of the little boy who props open the door is an attack at the feet of the rich.


Your Response to Me

Want to offer any insight about what you think my dream means? Post in the comments below.


What to tell me what you dreamed last night? I would love to hear about it and discuss it with you.


Love, Carolyn

Posted on September 26, 2011 and filed under Dream Journal.