Keeping a Dream Diary
Although we cannot always remember our dreams, they often leave us with feelings that remain with us during our waking hours. Recording our dreams can help us remember them, and can thus help identify the sources of these lingering emotions.
Writing it down
Most dream analysts recommend recording the contents of your dreams in a dream diary. In addition to helping you recall the dream's details, the diary will provide a record for study, enabling you to identify patterns and themes within your dreams. A psychological and practical commitment to the process of recording your dreams is the first step on the path to interpretation.
There are no rules about the form that the diary should take-just choose a method that you find practical to maintain. Most people keep a notebook and a flashlight by their beds, but an audio diary would work just as well. Try to record your dream before getting out of bed, as activity can cause it to "disappear."
Initial dream notes should be relatively brief-an outline will do at this point. Be sure, however, that your notes mention even the seemingly trivial or obscure aspects of the dream, as these can contain clues to its meaning.
A full account
As soon as possible after making your initial notes, while the dream is still fresh in your mind, record it in full. A large diary or exercise book is recommended, with enough space to write down the details of the dream on the left hand side-the recollection page-and any thoughts and associations on the right-hand side-the interpretation page. Some analysts suggest using diagrams and pictures to facilitate memories of images or events in the dream.
The recollection page
Always note the date of the dream, as this may be relevant to its meaning. For example, the dream might occur on a significant anniversary, or when a deadline is looming. Dated pages can also help to contextualize a dream if you are chronicling a series of dreams. Record the dream in the exact sequence in which it unfolded. Try to leave a space between different "scenes."
The interpretation page
Give your interpretation page headings such as positive messages, negative implications, and emotions. It is also useful to note whether any colors appeared, and if so, whether they were affiliated with specific objects or persons. You might base your notes on the Directory of Dream Symbols (pages 18-131). Use the categories from the Directory (life and death, forces of nature, and so on) as a basis for your analysis, adding your own as you see fit. Be sure to note any events from the previous day that may have influenced your dream. It can also be helpful to write down what you were thinking about just prior to falling asleep.
Read back over the contents of your diary occasionally; you may notice recurring themes in your dreams. It can be useful to add an overall analysis page to your diary from time to time, in order to tie recent themes together.
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