The Benefits of Dream Journaling for Personal Evolution and Growth.
Dream Journaling is another tool we can use for self inquiry, reflection and introspection helping us become our best selves.
For as long as I can remember, I have been an avid dreamer, both in the “real” world and in my sleeping state. I’ve always had a curious nature, so I leaned in to learning about dreams: how can I interpret them, what does each detail mean? Dreams became the window into my subconscious mind.
I bought my first book, The Dream Book by Betty Bethards, about 45 years ago, and it was a godsend. At the young age of 19, I was diagnosed with sever panic disorder. Using dream interpretation, along with many other remedies (which I still use today), I healed myself by 28. It was incredibly comforting to learn that all the times when I had super scary, downright terrifying dreams my unconscious mind was attempting to tell me something productive. Those very dreams were me working through my fears.
Today I’m able to see fear differently. I’m grateful I found dream journaling. I was a voracious learner, wanting to find peace and happiness, and being able to understand my dreams helped me find comfort and harmony. I learned a lot then about myself and I’m most definitely still evolving today. Dreams are useful at every stage in our life. Sometimes I stray away and remembering my dreams becomes harder. However, the more consistently I use dreams to help me heal and understand, the easier it gets.
Once Tim and I started having children, their wakeful nights brought me right back to my trusty dream book! The girls would wake with such vivid nightmares. To help comfort them I’d whip out my trusty dream book. We’d sit down, even if it was at 3AM, and talk about their dreams. I’d be furiously writing down what they could remember, asking question like: what colors did you see, or how many cars or people? We’d take each part of their dream and look up its meaning. Taking the time to go through dreams with the girls was huge. Once they saw that the dream’s meaning wasn’t what they actually saw in their dream, they would relax and fall right back into sleep. Dreams, over time, became less scary and more informational. Less frequently did they come to get me in the middle of the night, and even if they did, it was, “Mommy please let’s get the dream book out.” When each of the girls went off to college, I created a “Mom’s Love” basket. They each got their own Dream Book. It’s a wonderful way to share, connect and gain trust with our children.
Coincidentally, as I was writing this Blog Post, one of our favorite Functional Medical doctors, Dr. Mark Hyman (Director for the Cleveland Clinic’s Functional Medicine) sent me his latest Podcast from the Doctor’s Farmacy. And it’s all about, yep! DREAMING! I loved the perfect timing on this and I’m glad to be able to share this wonderful information with you. “Lucid” dreaming is another technique used for dream awareness and analysis. Some of my take away notes that Dr. Hyman and his guest, Charlie Morley shared:
- “You dream to become awake!”
- “Dreams can be very beneficial in healing.”
- Charlie Morley, Lucid Dreaming Expert and author of How to Learn, Grow and Heal while You are Asleep, shares ways to help you remember your dreams:
- Practice saying to yourself, “Next time I’m dreaming I know I am dreaming.” Say it over and over before you fall to sleep.
- Another mantra you can say: “I’m a warrior of the dream state, I stay lucid and conscious in the dream state”
- Mindfulness and consciousness during your wake state helps you pay attention and boost your dreaming awareness while you are asleep.
I searched to find what other experts were saying about the benefits of dream journaling. In Psychology Today I found Dr. Karl Stukenberg, a psychoanalyst, who wrote an informative article about 7 Reasons You Should be Interpreting our Dreams. More reasons that showed why dream journaling can be a great tool for learn about ourselves…Meg’s dream journaling with Animal Spirit Cards Example of a Dream Journal
Here is a snap shot of how I interpreted one of my latest dreams:
I often use Doreen Virtues Angels Card Set. On one particular day, I chose just one card: the Dream card. Its message was: pay attention to your dreams. There is a message for you coming. I did not dream that particular evening, but I got prepared with pen and paper so I could remember my next dream. On the second night, I had a very profound dream. I was ready, so when I woke up, I wrote it all down. That is the most important note: WRITE DOWN YOUR DREAM ASAP. You won’t recall all of the details later.
My dream: It was a very clear image of a large rattle snake coiled up in very green grass in my yard. My kids were outside playing in the yard, and I remember having this feeling of danger for my kids. In my dream there was also a chicken coup, which we don’t have in real life, but I was afraid for the coup as well. I ended up running to grab a camera. And I woke up shortly after.
Once I wrote down all that I could remember about the dream, I began searching for what each symbol’s interpretation meant. I used both Betty Bethards Dream Book and the ever-trusty, Mr. Google. Each definition or symbol often has multiple meanings. This is where you need not overthink, but rather choose which meaning is a yes for you in your life right now. For example: Snakes have many meanings, and depending on where you saw the snake, there could be even more. The meaning for snakes that resonated with me was: snakes are about spiritual growth, creativity, healing and transformation. There were many other meanings, but that was my personal takeaway.
Below is a snippet of the interpretation and learnings that I took from the snake specifically as it pertained to me and what’s going on in my life…
- I am in a transition period both personally and professionally. As a reptile, the snake reminds us of primal instincts and unconscious drives. …Snakes represent life force, creative energy, awakening or continued spiritual growth. They can also be symbols for opportunity and healing powers. The snake can also be a symbol of spiritual guidance and the presence of it in your life usually means you are in a transition period.
- As I lean into taking more time to pay attention to myself both for spiritual and emotional growth, this one resonated well with me … With the ability to shed their skins, snakes represent transformation. If your dream left you with a positive feeling, then the snake dream represents positive change, self-renewal, growth, knowledge and wisdom. (source: DreamMoods.com)
- As I recover from my knee injury… the snake is viewed as a healing symbol. After all, poisonous snakes hold the antidote for their own venom. And the symbol for the medical profession is a caduceus which features two snakes. Thus snakes indicate recovery
- As I begin the journey to self-publish my book Making Life Delicious Every Day and Curry Girls Kitchen gets a face lift, I am feeling very creative! Another positive interpretation of the snake points to your creativity and potential. (source: DreamMoods.com)
In addition to the snake, I also looked up the number 1, the color green, grass, camera, chicken coup, danger, and children. By writing these details down, I was able to look at my dream with great awareness and understanding.
My total takeaway:
New beginnings. Pay attention. Look at my feelings around change and the changes taking place in my life right now. I am growing and healing both spiritually and emotionally. Don’t give away my power and don’t give up on myself. Learn to see the positive lessons in my growth, in my perceptions, and in my experiences. Good things are coming. Hang in there and stay focused.
There are so many benefits of dream journaling. Interpreting and journaling about our dreams are wonderful tools to have in our empowerment box. I have the personal belief that we are all here to learn, grow, love, forgive and serve. As you know, Meg and I love learning new ways to enhance our personal growth as well as the growth of our community. Not every tool resonates with everyone, so we use the ones that do work, and rotate the tools around when needed. Dreams are a wonderful window into our subconscious mind and a fabulous tool we can use to help us grow and learn more about ourselves at all stages of life. Today I might dream less, but when I do dream, they are usually perfect messages to things I am working out in my everyday life! I look at dreams as my subconscious calling to tell me to pay attention.
Dream on, friends!
Peg’s trusty original Dream Book with notes, minus the cover that was lost eons ago..
Check out our Morning Ritual Video with guest blogger Kelli Tennant and Ceremony Wellness. Learn more great ways to wake up and feel your best!