I've been asked a few times lately about dreamwork, and more specifically "how do I learn to remember my dreams?".
There is only one key law to deal with to remember ones dreams, and I have never known it to fail if applied with devotion: Record all of your dreams.
At first, this may be MUCH easier said than done. The trick is this: you must record your dreams even if you don't remember them, don't think you have had any, and you must record them before you do ANYTHING else.
The exact method is this:
Before bed, write down in your dream journal "I remember all of my dreams when I awaken." Then, the moment you wake up, you start writing. And you write something. Anything. "I slept and I do not remember any dreams" is perfect. Repeat, every single night and morning. When you get to write "I had a dream about a person (or a dog, or a truck, anything!)" you have essentially kicked open the door to dream recollection. After that, if you keep at it with diligence, you will soon have more data than you care to record, although how long it takes for a person to get to this point varies greatly.
I do have two suggestions for tools that can help, both of which I recently added to my own dream practice. The first is a handheld digital recorder. I prefer it over the cell phone app as it is dead simple and it produces almost no light which makes it easier to use and then fall back to sleep. I can easily turn it on, record a dream, and fall back asleep again in the dark. I am now recording all my dreams this way and then transferring them into my dream journal in the morning, and my detailed recall has bumped way up. Also: I believe is important to actually physically take pen to paper to record dreams if you are looking to increase recall.
The second is a Photon LED flashlight with a red LED. I use this a lot in ritual space as well, as I like to work in near total darkness, so if I need to read something that I can't see with the light from one votive candle, the Photon gets used. The red LED is very non-harsh, and this is the next best thing to use with the journal if you don't have the recorder, as it won't wake you up as much as turning on your phone or turning on a light. The one I use locks 'on', and has a clip that I hang it from on a chain around my neck in ritual. Stylish am I, always!
As in most things, compliance is key: some way or another, record every tiny fragment of a dream you can recall the moment you awake, every single day. I've never known this to fail.
Sleep can be another issue.
While I am no sleep expert, I did spend a few years averaging 3-4 hours of sleep a night due to insomnia. These are some things that worked well for me, found from a ton of sources long forgotten and most are 'common knowledge'.
- Black out you room. Seriously, pitch black is best. No lights of any kind. No cell phones charging, no computer, no backlit clock.
- Colder is better than warmer. Add blankets, but a cooler room is much easier to sleep in.
- Silence. I sleep with earplugs. This is not always possible for everyone (children may preclude this, but if there are two of you, perhaps alternate ear plug nights).
- I've had good luck with all of the following herbs used singly and in various combinations: skullcap, valerian root, passionflower, blue vervain, catnip, lemon verbena. There are two homeopathic sleep & stress aids that I have found work well, one called Moon Drops and one just called Calm Drops, that you may be able to get at your local natural food stores and the are readily available on line. They are more expensive than just using herbs but work very well.
- Once you are sleeping, mugwort can boost the intensity of your dreams.
- Try to get off electric screens of all kinds an hour before bedtime and dim electric lights if you have trouble sleeping.
- Stay out of bed except for sleeping & sex. No reading in bed, watching tv in bed, anything like that. Program yourself that bed=sleep.
I hope that this is of some assistance to someone!
Aidan Wachter, August 2016