Finding Themes in Dreams
Keeping a dream journal can help you discover themes in your dreams. If you realize that you had 6 dreams about the same thing over a year and a half, then that is an ongoing theme. This set of symbols are a metaphor that is coming up in your dreams. Because the symbol is repetitive, the dream is trying to tell you about something that is ongoing in your life. It could even be about who you are at that time.
The Benefits of Adding Illustrations to your Journal
Sometimes drawing images, even if it’s just a little scribbled cartoon, is going to give you more information about what the dream is a whole. We dream about things that aren’t realistic-things that can’t even exist. So sometimes when you put an image on a page, you can look at the image and see things in it. You gain insight that you didn’t even know was there when you were writing down, or recalling the dream when you first woke up.
You look at might say, “that wasn’t my attitude toward this thing in the dream.” In the dream I thought it was completely normal, and now that I’m looking at it, I’m horrified! It’s disturbing and kind of violent. That would never be how I would react in that situation if it actually happened.
So the question is, what is it in my life that I’m taking a nonchalant attitude toward that is, in fact, a violence that I’m doing to myself or allowing to occur? Wait a minute; I don’t want to agree to that.
How to Better Remember your Dreams
But I don’t remember dreams every day you might say. Set an intention. If you tell yourself, I will remember my dreams when I wake up this morning it will help. Allowing for enough time to sleep will help with dream recall too. If you are able to wake up after being well rested, you are more likely to have REM sleep, (rapid eye-movement) stage of sleep in which we dream. If you haven’t had enough, you may be in a deeper sleep or a dreamless one.
Another tip for helping remember dreams is be able to wake up without an alarm clock. See my previous statement about getting enough rest. Or, if you wake up at the same time every morning will help arrange your sleep cycles. Finally, try to stay still after you wake up and write in your dream journal before you get up will help you “hold on” to the dream. If you get too far into normal routines, the more likely for the mindset to move away from the dream and for the dream to fade away.
Finally, if you aren’t used to remembering your dreams, making notes of your feelings when you wake up, any images in your mind, music, or thoughts on your mind may help you start to uncover information from your dreams.
Unconscious Images and Art Therapy
Everyone dreams, whether we remember them or not. However, as an art therapist I am able to work with people’s fantasies and daydream images through art-making in the same way that someone would work with dreams.
Carl Jung on Fantasies
Jung relates a story in which a man made up dreams for Jung to work with in analysis. After the sessions, he admits to Jung that he made them all up. Unconcerned, Jung said that whether the client dreamed the stories, or created them in fantasies, the content was still relevant. Even as fantasies or pure imaginative creativity, the content can provide therapeutic insight.
Final Thoughts: Dream Therapy and Transformation
Dream journaling can be an interesting way to turn into your internal world and learn about yourself. Dream analysis, in turn, can be a transformative way to do therapy. While Freud called dreams the royal road to the unconscious, I hope that like me, you find dreams a fascinating way to find inward road to uncovering the mystery of your life’s story.