Leah is a hypnotherapist and wellbeing writer. She also runs courses teaching people how to have lucid dreams, and workshops in poetry therapy and writing for wellbeing: www.themoonlab.net.

We all know the benefits of journaling. It’s a powerful self-help tool to explore what’s troubling us through the writing down of thoughts and feelings. It’s also just a great way to understand our interior world and something we can turn to whenever we need to harness our inner therapist. Many people find journaling about their daily lives helpful, others find journaling about specific areas of their life beneficial, whether it’s a way to reflect on relationships, work life or as a way to develop more gratitude in our lives.

Many are also increasingly turning to nocturnal journaling as a way to explore unconscious thoughts, feelings and beliefs, as a way to better understand ourselves on a deeper level. One core element of dream work is keeping a dream diary and there are several reasons why keeping a dream journal can be beneficial to you. Here are just some:

Benefits of nocturnal journaling

1. Enhanced dream recall: Firstly, through the act of dream journaling you’re likely to recall even more of your dreams. So if you set an intention to remember your dreams, and start to write them down, you may find you begin remembering more of them. Once you see dreams as valuable you will be more likely to start to recall them.

2. Better quality of dreams: When you keep a dream journal, your dreaming mind knows that you are listening and your unconscious mind may start to give you more dreams of greater interest and psychological value.

3. Increased awareness: Not only will you develop better self-awareness through dream journaling but you’ll also start to recognise your recurring dream signs. Whenever you spot an obvious dream sign, such as dreaming of flying gold donkey or an ex-partner or another unusual encounter that just wouldn’t happen in waking life, make a note of them. They will help you to recognise when you are dreaming and start to influence your dreams (this is also known as lucid dreaming).

4. A direct line to lucid dreaming: The more connected you are to your dreams, the easier it will be to become conscious in your dreams. A lucid dream is a dream where you’re aware it’s a dream and you’re able to exert some influence over what happens next in your dreams. Keeping a dream journal is the first step to lucid dreaming – the cornerstone if you like.

5. Better understanding of self: Dreams can be revealing and often they present us with new information about our interior lives. So, through listening and then recording your dreams, you’re able to observe your inner most thoughts, feelings and beliefs – and have a better handle on what’s going on for you.

How to keep a dream journal

  • Keeping a dream diary can tell you so much about what is going on for you. The simple act of recording your dreams alone is a powerful tool.
  • Start by setting an intention to remember your dreams. If you don’t remember anything, just write: I don’t remember any dreams. The act of recording daily is important.
  • It’s also important to connect with how you were feeling in the dream so in your journal make a note of the feelings present. This can tell you more than the imagery in the dream itself.
  • Over time, start to notice any recurring themes, patterns, people, feelings, symbols or features that stand out in your dreams. This can provide you with helpful information as to what is going on for you beneath the surface.
  • When you keep a regular dream diary it’s as though your dreaming mind knows you are listening and will start to present you with dreams of increased value.

Top three tips for dream diaries

1. Write down your dreams as soon as you remember them. Whether that’s in the ‘notes’ section of your phone or on a scrap piece of paper by your desk. You can write them up later in your dream diary.

2. Don’t feel as though you need to write out the entire dream. Just a few bullet points will be fine. Note the key people, location, any dialogue and an outline of what takes place in the dream. Feel free to illustrate your dream or include charts or images, anything that works for you.

3. The most important thing is to note any emotions that occurred in the dream, including what each of the dream characters were feeling. Remembering, that everything in the dream is you.

MORE FROM DREAMS: What does it mean to dream about Pumpkins?

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