Dream Journal 101

Hello Lovely Dreamers!

Today we will explore something I do nearly every day: I write something in my journal. Sometimes it is the date, other times it is 10 pages of dreams, or personal notes, or the current moon cycle, etc. It truly looks different to each person. So, let's take a few minutes to explore the Dream Journal. What it is? Why do we use it? How do we create one? Or choose one? Plus helpful suggestions on how to customize yours.

Hi! I'm Amanda Shuman, Dreamwork and Transformational Life Coach, here to help you unravel the chaos of dreams and decode their meanings as you learn the language of YOUR soul. 

No matter where you are in your life's journey, keeping a journal can be incredibly supportive. There are lots of things to consider when starting your Dream Journal. We'll go over a few basics here. Remember that these are suggestions and you can take or leave whatever you like. So without further ado, here we go!


~What is a Journal?~

A journal is a place to collect your personal thoughts, ideas, and inspirations. It can be what you want it to be. First things first: these are private pages, you don't have to share your journal with anyone. Second: there are no formatting rules! Create it to suit you and enjoy the process! 

The Dream Journal specifically is a place to record your dreams upon waking. Pretty simple - or so it seems. The idea is to write down as much of your dream within the first few minutes of waking (or as soon as possible afterward). Most of our dream will dissipate into the ethos within the first 10 minutes of being awake. Sometimes bullet points or random scribbles of notes can help get details down, then follow up with a more structured write up. 


~How can my journal look?~

The journal itself can vary in modality and appearance, depending on your preferences. Some like to write, dictate, type, and even create (draw, sketch, paint, collage, etc). There is no right or wrong as long as it is appealing for you to DO.

How do each of these look?

Written - can be a bound journal or loose leaf pages. Bound can look like a published journal to fill in daily, weekly and/or monthly or a blank book that you fancy (this is my preference). Loose pages can be lined, blank, fancy art paper or pre-printed 'dream journal' pages that you may collect in a binder or your own organizational system. Use a pen or pencil that is comfortable for you and dedicated to your dream journal. Choose a writing instrument that resists smudging and that is not complicated to open/write with. Sometimes you may get words written as you doze off again and they can become illegible, having a tool that reduces smudging, bleeding or smearing will reduce the illegibility. It is common in the liminal space to have illegible scribbles, try not to lose sleep over it (tee hee, I just had to).

Dictate - have a dictation recorder by your bedside: this may be an app on your phone or a tangible recorder that can upload to your computer. Have something simple to work as you will be using it in the half asleep half awake time period.

Setting up a routine of how you record your dream may prove helpful to get the important information. For example: state the dream first and then state the external facts (see below for explanation). Keeping a log for the recorded dreams may be helpful when referring to dreams and to find correlations. As a suggestion, try to see your dream as well - transcribe it in text or draw or re-create it, this activates other areas of your brain and memory and can identify correlations within the dream (eg. "four people sitting around a square table" sounds like a meal or a meeting and may direct your energy toward the topic discussed when heard/dictated. Reading it, you can see that 4's repeat - 4 people, 4 corners to the table, 4 right angle triangles at each corner, 4 legs on the table, possibly 4 chairs the people are sitting on may also have 4 legs each. The position of each person at the table may be significant if you draw it out - note: stick people are perfectly fine, its your journal, no one will be seeing it but you).

Type - by laptop or on your phone, if you prefer typing to writing this may be your preference. Have a screen or shortcut that is easily accessible to navigate while in a half awake state. I have heard of success with emailing themselves the dream with a subject line of Dream (or something that is consistent) as they can search their email log for the subject to bring them all up at once. Some cautions with this method: 1 - the light of the computer could wake you up quickly, 2 - you may get distracted before recording the dream, 3 - you may do other things on your device while in a dreaming state that may not be of character. ( For example, keep your banking app/page far from your dream log app/page)

Create - do you work better visually? Perhaps crayons, pencil, markers or collage work better for you. Find your materials and create a routine that works for you. Maybe you wake and get your drawing book to record scenes, items, expressions. Perhaps later you may create a poem, painting, clay piece from the dream. Find a way to maintain a few of the dream factual details that will be described below, to have reference points to the context and timing of the dream.

Simple take-away: Pick what works for you. If you don't enjoy doing it, you won't do it.


~Should I have a separate journal for dreams or add dreams to my current one?~ 

Of course, this is a personal decision so here are some pro's and cons for each to help you decide.

Pro: Many dream experts suggest to have your dream journal include some form of recent events recorded alongside your dream. Having the dream and waking notes in the same journal is convenient when reflecting back. It also keeps it handy with having one journal to capture it all. When looking at synchronicities within waking time and dream time this can be helpful to locate and draw from as you reflect back at past dreams to help you see the bigger picture within your life.

Con: Some dreamers use their dream journal as inspiration for creativity, where context isn't necessarily required. So including personal daily notes may not feel right for this use. When finding what works for you be sure to listen to your own wants and needs, do what feels right. Sometimes dream journals begin with recording dreams and helps build the habit of journaling. Being open to this process evolving would be ideal.


~Why keep a Dream Journal?~ 

The premise is that we will forget most of the dream details within the first 10 minutes of waking, or the details can get muddled or confused as our analytical brain begins to piece it together. This raw version of your dream within the journal is very insightful. Dreams offer a language filled with symbolism and word-play. When you look at words and phrases that come up in dreams you may think "gosh, I really got that all muddled. I wouldn't use words like that!' Be curious about the words used, they may be what is meant to be presented. Your journal is a great place to explore these words and look at them differently than in the waking way. 

Also, when you begin to have a collection of dreams, you can start to see commonalities to them. Some will have recurring images or themes or present solutions. There may be patterns that emerge. Having dreams in a collected space can offer an opportunity to see the bigger picture, change your perspective. It can allow us to see growth and change in our lives and dreamscapes as well.

In writing this, I am cautious to not offer too many why's and how to's so that you can explore, try, and allow a journey to unfold. What works for one, may not work for another. Along my own journalling journey, I have purchased blank journals as well as tried scripted journals. I have written special quotes in the covers, had dedicated pages for monthly intention setting, many pages have drawings and sketches, I have even chosen to use my books back to front, as I am left-handed and this feels natural for me when using bound books.

The image above is my current journal (still crisp and clean, as it was new when this photo was taken). It has smooth lined pages with ribbons for holding my special pages. I am very tactile. This is from the Indigo Books journals and I get a new one every three or four months, depending on my needs.

Here is how I set up my pages, usually:

 Sleep hours, intentions/prayers before/after




 Dream title (If I had a dream)


 Dream scribbles, summary or daytime rememberings...


 EoD (End of Dream - to show where the dream ends and my musings begin)


Whether I begin working with the dream right away or not, it is there. When I do work on a dream I date my work and reference the date of the dream and the title of it. This work often records synchronicities in life and activities that have deepened into the dream symbolisms or dream companions. These activities and techniques often are shared in workshops and dream circles (a new set are starting this month).

As added support, be sure to download the "Dream Handbook" to keep with your journal with great tips and tricks with sleep, dreams and dream recall. Yes! I use it myself! Variety is the spice of life, for me, so switching up my routine is always helpful!

On your journal journey, explore and try different things and be sure to check in with yourself to see what brings you joy!

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