Memory determines the contents of the self. Barring memory, I am not me. I am something else.
In dreams, while the clarity of sensory experience intensifies, the brains ability to codify experience into long term memory is really shitty. For the majority of us, we wake up with no recollection of having done anything, even though we dream between 5-7 times per night, not counting the lucidity of both light and deep, dreamless sleep.
What is it that wants to emerge? In order to build a bigger picture, we can start to remember our dreams. Depending on the framework one uses, dreams contain the symbolic language of daily life. All of the nagging, blissful, frightening, enraging, and liberating contents of the memory stream are woven into the arising and collapsing of the dreamscape. In working with these images, we can liberate them back into awareness, creating wholeness.
Tips for Remembering Dreams
- Develop an interest in dreaming. Hard to care if you, ah, don’t care. Watch some movies like The Matrix, Inception, Paprika, or Waking Life. Allow yourself to believe in some of the possibilities presented in these fictional outlets. If you find a niche that appeals to you, go deeper: read some of the material people have written, or sit down and plan out your own dream, or make a list of goals.
- Gently resolve to remember dreams, or at least to pay attention while you sleep. This may sound ridiculous, but remember, it is possible to be aware throughout the stages of sleep. Also, no sense in getting super serious. Just tell yourself you will pay attention, and remember anything important.
- Start a dream journal. A voice recorder works wonders, though writing tends to help unlock lost dream content. Either is fine, depending on what you want. If writing, you will either be writing in the dark, or switching on the lamp–which can make it hard to fall back to sleep. The voice recorder is a good choice for the middle of the night. If you desire, follow up with the journal in the morning.
- Upon waking, try to lie still. Think back to what you were just doing/feeling/thinking about. What was going on? Write down anything that arises in your mind. If you can’t remember any images or narratives, just write down the mood you woke up in. Eventually you will train your mind to know that dreams are important, and that you want to remember them.
- Notice dreamlike phenomena. Throughout the day, see if you notice anything that showed up in your nightly dreams. If you do, make a note of it, and write it in your dream journal (or in another diary of sorts) to keep a list of dream signs. Bridging waking and dreaming activities will help you build the connection between these two interesting worlds, and can help reactivate your awareness in the dream state.
Other resources can be found at: http://lucidity.com/NL11.DreamRecall.html