Dreams and How You Remember them

Have you ever wondered what is actually happening when you dream? Physicists who have studied this, whose findings are not dissimilar from indigenous peoples define a dream as a tableau of images and story ‘created’ when the light of a person’s consciousness touches or collides with the unseen realm, a person’s higher self. Dreams tend to be holographic by nature; meaning you can often distill the essence of the dream though its parts.

How can You Remember Your Dreams?

Many people think that they don’t in fact dream because their dreams slip away when they wake up. There are ways to change this.

When I was in my early 20’s I was taking a literature class at Johns Hopkins University taught by Dr. Ralph Harper, called Dreams and Reality. We studied a major work by Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, Sigmund Freud and Thomas Mann. During the class I sat in discussion with another student and I told her I never remembered my dreams and had given up on it. She was one of those rare individuals who had grown up in a family that discussed their nightly dreams at the breakfast table. She gave me the following tips that have never failed me and started me off on my dream journeying and has never let up. I pass them along to you.

The 3 most important tips on how to unlock the door to your dreams:

As with everything in creation the most important thing for remembering your dreams starts with setting your INTENTION.

  • Hold the intention before you go to sleep that you would like to remember your dream(s) clearly enough to be able to write them down.
  • Put a notebook and pen next to your bed to write down your dreams. Some people use recording devices that they have set up for the same purpose, such as on an iPhone or similar device.
  • Ahead of time hold gratitude in your heart for what you are about to receive and make the commitment to work with the substance of the dream to the best of your ability.

The 3 biggest obstacles to remembering your dreams:

  • Self-censorship: when a dream comes and you label it ‘stupid’ or you see it as ‘unflattering’ or ‘unimportant’, or the information in the dream feels disturbing, and so you decide to discount it. In fact these are the dreams with the most potential to change our lives.
  • Moving away from the dream state too quickly. Instead, when you wake up in the morning from your dream allow yourself to lie there a few moments before you become fully awake—savor the dream and before your feet hit the floor begin writing your dream down. Do not attempt to interpret your dream. As much as you can write the dream as you experienced it–all the feelings that were present, your sense of the others in your dream. The place.
  • Thinking the dream is too small. Sometimes all we receive is a snippet, like a scene in a play. However dreams are holographic in nature so even the fragments can contain the whole and can in fact be very powerful.

If you lose your dream, you can pay attention during the day if anything triggers a memory of it or the feeling of it. If it does you can try and capture the fragment or the feeling or the image and ask that another one be given to you.

In this way you begin to develop a correspondence with your inner dreamer and a connection is made that says that you want to know what is being transmitted.

The more you do this the clearer your dreams will become and the easier you will find it to hold onto dreams.


Do not rush to interpret your dream! Do not buy dream dictionaries and apply the stock definition to an image you might receive. Allow your dream image to fully affect you. Allow your own intelligence to work with the images and characters without labeling them. When we label anything it shrinks and loses its original potency. Images are full of power–consider their potent effect in advertising! After you have had a chance to really soak up the image and hear your own impressions then a little skate on the internet can inspire further understanding.

Are all dreams the same?

in close range
in close range

There are many kinds of dreams that come to us; here are the most common:

  • There are what I would call ordinary dreams that show you, by way of a story, the dynamics of how your lives are playing out or being lived on some level.
  • There are repetitive dreams. A repetitive dream is one that comes to try to work something out. These can happen over a lifetime or over a few months. They come to offer some essential knowledge that the higher self deems important and necessary and they keep coming back until the knowledge is understood and integrated. Many times you do not know what these dreams are trying to tell you initially. For example, the most common repetitive dream is when you dream an assailing character in the dream is chasing you. Over a series of months or years your response to being chased will change and when you finally turn around and face the character or change your fear response to it, the dreams will naturally cease. This usually means an important challenge has been met. If you can see it in this way your own fear response can change to one of meeting rather than avoiding.
  • There are dreams of foretelling. Because dreams emerge from the timeless realm the incidents that occur in them can seem to be of a future time but in actuality where they come from all events live side-by-side, without past or future. But in real time you will experience them as prophetic.
  • There are archetypal dreams in which strong symbols or symbolic characters appear to teach something or to announce the way into a new part of our lives. These dreams can come to tell of a unique gift that has not yet been acknowledged or a way your gifts would like to be used in the world.
  • There are small dreams that appear just as snippets or vignettes. Sometimes these dreams can have a strong image or carry a voice like an announcer that will simply proclaim something, or you will see the writing of something in your mind. Images are very powerful and when you allow them to drop all the way in, they can bring you into a relationship not possible with words. It is said that it is important to pay attention to the dreams in which your name is called or ones where you see your name written down.
  • Similarly, there are ancient teachers who appear in dreams to teach or remind you of something you may need to know for this particular time in your lives. There can appear political figures or religious figures, sports heroes, actors and actresses…
  • There are warning dreams – often folks experience them as These dreams come to draw your attention to something happening in your life, usually an old pattern that has been wreaking havoc or perhaps an illness or other forms of disharmony.
  • Childhood dreams. We will cover this topic in a separate post but there is a certain quality to childhood dreams that make them especially important and tender to gently work with. Because children do not have sophisticated censoring devices they tend to experience their dreams very vividly, especially if the dream contains something that frightens them. There are many people who were plagued by frightening experiences in their childhood dreams who could not share them effectively with their parents and so misunderstood what was being given.
  • Lucid dreaming. We will cover this topic as well in a separate post. It is a type of dreaming, also called Active Imagination, where you go back into a dream-like trance state in order to work with the character or events that have appeared in a dream, in order to work creatively on the conscious level.
room with a view
room with a view

When looking at dreams and their characters with fresh eyes we can see the potentials that are trying to emerge in our lives, the fears and the beliefs that we are carrying and what kinds of changes might encourage a shift into a larger, more unfettered way being. We will look at dreams individually and ask questions that will unravel the dream.

Using the dream as correspondence between ourselves and our inner most self provides a vehicle for a deeply creative and resourceful life.  An unscripted and unconditioned life waiting to be discovered.