I love sleeping. There, I’ve said it! I might not always get to sleep at a reasonable time, or get enough sleep for my liking, but when I have the time to sleep without interruptions, it’s just the best. Not least because of dreams. From a very young age I’ve had a fascination with dreaming, the best ones are like watching some of the most amazing movies of my life, personally tailored for me.
But dreams can be a lot more than just entertainment. Your dreams can be an incredible source of ideas. They often contain events and issues you’re dealing with in real life, just arranged in a completely different way. The way your mind works while dreaming removes all restrictions and limits, so it can come up with solutions you would never have come up it while awake.
I read somewhere that most people have around six dreams every night (!), but sadly we don't remember all of them, some of us none of them. However, it is possible to dream with intent. I totally believe it's possible to learn to remember your dreams. And with a little effort, you can even learn to dream in a way that is productive to your everyday thought process.
Here’s how you can make better use of your dreams.
1 Choose a question
Decide on a challenge or a question you are wanting to find answers to or new ideas for, and write it down in several ways, framing it from as many angles as you can think of. Right before falling asleep, think on the question and read what you have written down. Do this several nights in a row, making sure your mind is working on the question just before you fall asleep.
2 Wake up earlier
If you have trouble remembering your dreams, set your alarm 30 minutes before you normally wake up (I know, it's painful, but it works!). Doing this will give you a better chance of waking up during a dreaming period. When you wake up, lie still and hold on to the dream before it slithers away. Go through it in your mind, trying to remember as much detail as you can.
3 Write it down
Dreams can vanish pretty darn swiftly, so as soon as you have a handle on the sequence of events, write it down. Have a notepad next to your bed ready especially for this. Some people find that writing in long-hand helps to connect your hand with your memories of the dream. Personally, I like to grab my phone and type into my journal, as it is a lot faster than writing by hand, and when it comes to dreams you are fighting against time.
4 Analyse your dream
After you’ve written your dream down, start dissecting it. Ask yourself:
- Did the events in your dream relate to your problem?
- Did you recognise any of the locations?
- Who were the people in your dream?
- How were they related to your problem?
- How does the theme of the dream relate to your question?
- Does the dream change the way the question should be posed?
- Were there any unusual elements in your dream that could help spark new ideas?
Take a few elements of your dream and start free-associating, seeing whether anything useful or inspiring comes to mind. Do this every morning after your intentional dream and see if you can keep building on your interpretation.
6 Keep recording your dreams
If you keep on recording your dreams regularly they will become easier and easier to remember. You will start seeing patterns, and sparking new ideas with the help of your subconsciousness.
Remember to treat the process of creative dreaming as a fun tool for sparking new ideas and solutions. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ interpretation, no mystical science at work. All the material you produce while sleeping is your own material, it’s a collection of everything you’ve experienced or learned, being accessed in a way that imposes no artificial limits on your thinking. You might get reminded of thoughts or experiences you had forgotten about, or your mind can find a way around an obstacle, which seemed impossible to penetrate with your conscious mind. In short, your dreams can reveal things you didn't know you knew.
Dreams can reveal things you didn’t know you knew.
To help you get started, I put together a Dream Analysis Worksheet for you. Have fun!
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