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Keeping A Dream Journal

Updated on July 2, 2013

Tap into Your Inner Instruction Manual for Life

"And one day there will come a great awakening when we shall realize that life itself was a great dream."

Chang-Tzu (c. 350 B.C.)

It sounds silly to many people that dreams would be anything more than stories that happen in our head when we fall asleep.

However, like music, stories have a long history of affecting the minds of humans. Folklore, tales passed verbally from generation to generation, had a huge part in transforming human minds and spirits. Like mythology, folktales are full of different archetypes that identify many parts of human spirit and psychology. Through the stories these archetypes experience the consciousness of the reader or receiver is also changed. This is more true of the receiver who consciously analyzes the story, but also true on a subconscious level.

Many of the archetypes and symbols of these old myths and folktales are prevalent in today's culture. They make up an aspect of universal, social thought or 'superconsciousness'.

We also have our own personal archetypes and symbols we acquire through personal experience.

Dreams are a collection of these social and personal archetypes and symbols. The characters in a dream represent different aspects of our psychology, just as they do in a story. This means that dreams are a personal story tailored just for us. They have the same, if not more, potential to transform both our mind and spirit.

Essentially, dreams are the ever-changing instruction manuals that came with our bodies.

Keeping a dream journal is a great way to utilize the great gift of dreaming.

Tips for Dream Journaling

  1. Remind yourself before you go to bed to wake up and record your dream when you have one.

  2. Keep your dream journal by your bed.

  3. When you wake up from a dream write down key words to help you recall the dream in the morning.

  4. Write your dreams out like a story. Use present tense, as if the events are happening now. Describe everything you remember with all your senses in mind.

  5. Read your dream as if it is a story and jot down your initial reactions. Keep in mind story elements like plot, setting, characters and conflict.

  6. Underline key words including; colors, places, people, clothing, settings, and props. Use a dream dictionary to find definitions for universal symbols. Use them to probe your dream deeper.

  7. Experiment with asking yourself a question before you go to sleep. Analyze the dream for an answer.

Dream Interpretation Resources

Having a manual around to help you look up the archetypes and symbols in your dream can be helpful while keeping a dream journal. I have several different books. Some are absolutely terrible -- and the symbols don't make logical sense. There are two must-have books that I recommend if you intend to start interpreting your dreams.

1. "The Mystical Magical Marvelous World of Dreams" by Wild B. Tanner is the best book I've ever seen.The metaphors are realistic. The author draws deeply on spiritual connections -- and literally everything including the "kitchen sink" is in there for your reference. There is also plenty of great information about lucid dreaming, and dreaming with intention.

2. "The Hidden Meaning of Dreaming" by Craig Hamilton-Parker is good as an edition to the previous book I mentioned. There are a few explanations in the book that I've found incredibly useful that weren't in the first book. The bright artistic illustrations, which look like they were done with pastels, make the task all the more delightful.

Robin Coe is a journalist and author. She wrote the fantasy novel "Fly on the Wall" and graphic novel "Illustrated Book of Wrath".


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      Natalee7 3 years ago

      I use a dream journal app on my iPhone called DreamTagTell. I downloaded it free recently. I totally recommend it. It includes a dream dictionary, you can include friends in your journal then share dreams. Their website is

    • robincoe profile image

      Robin Coe 6 years ago from Ann Arbor

      It gets even weirder if you keep one for awhile. I kept one for about a good 4 or 5 year stretch. Lucid dreams became more intense because I became so trained at waking up to right down dreams.

    • PaulGoodman67 profile image

      Paul Goodman 6 years ago from Florida USA

      I kept a dream journal for a time, prompted by my interest in Carl Jung. The experience was interesting but weird - it really made me realise how strange the human mind is! :-)