I love dreams. I love having them, talking about them, thinking about them, and writing them down. When I was a kid I would fantasize about what they meant. I heard a few different theories (e.g., it was your brain rewinding the day and replaying it end to beginning, it was all about your secret desires). Now, I’m still not totally sure what dreams mean (Williams S. Burroughs has some pretty cool ideas I can get behind), but I do believe that writing about them can put us in touch with a higher kind of wisdom.
Writing about my dreams has been a key self-care practice for me. Here are a few ways I’ve benefitted from it and why I’d totally recommend it:
Writing about dreams helps clarify my feelings. The recurring themes and emotions in our dreams don’t just come from nowhere. For example, if being invisible or forgotten is a recurring theme in my dreams, then that says something about my day-to-day life and relationships in it. Writing about my dreams helps me identify how I’m really feeling and what may need to change in my waking life. It’s just about living authentically, which takes some regular intention.
The more I write about my dreams, the more “in touch” I feel with my intuition. David Vox writes, “When you write down your dreams, you are telling your unconsciousness that you listen to it. And your unconsciousness will start sending you more and more detailed information that you won’t see in an awake, noisy, thought-created reality.” I totally agree with that. Having a dream journal (or even having your dreams on your conscious radar) is like telling your brain, “Speak to me! I’m open to it!”
Writing down dreams regularly helps me prevent meltdowns before they happen. For me, dreams are essentially a barometer of my mental state. Writing them down is about checking in on my internal chatter. Hectic, terrifying, or otherwise gloomy themes coming up in dreams often point to too much worry or anxiety bubbling up beneath the surface. Bringing my awareness to them lets me take control. I don’t have to be subject to my emotions. Dreams help with that.
If you want to start writing down your dreams, and go beyond the dream dictionary in your interpretations, definitely check out some Carl Jung (here’s a basic overview of his position on dreams via Elephant Journal). Peep his concept of archetypes, which he thought were behaviours/motivations that appeared in our dreams as characters but symbolized aspects of our own personality.
Most of all: For a practice like this you just need a really bomb physical journal. I had a glittery red-covered one as a child with black paper that I wrote in exclusively with gel pens. Feeling magical is an important part of this practice!