Learn how to prepare your mind and body for restorative sleep and illuminating dream work in this guided mediation by Psychic Luna.
Different cultures have different practices and relationships to the dream state. Exploring these varying avenues is a great way to better understand what the dream world is comprised of and how people over time have conceptualized and utilized it for spiritual development and personal growth and understanding. While there is some variation on the function of dreams across traditions, there are a few details remain the same across practices; dreams can utilize all of senses and dreams produce an altered state of consciousness. In order to access an altered state of consciousness, individuals may utilize herbs, substances, sounds, breath or meditation, but as a beginner, there is no need to look any further than your own dreaming world.
Dreams allow you to access your subconscious and solve real world problems in your daily life as well as encourage personal growth. If you are interested in cultivating a relationship with your dream world and embarking on the insightful practice of dream work, there are a few foundational tools you can utilize as a basic practice. These practices include- learning how to prepare yourself for a night's rest, how to cultivate awareness of your dream world, how to ask and explore questions in your dreams, and how to process the dream upon waking.
One of the most essential starting points for engaging dream work is to have a consistent practice. Dream work and preparation to do so can range from a variety of rituals and practices that are simple or complex, but they key is engage these practices regularly to develop a familiarity and comfort with this altered state of consciousness. Our dream worlds are full of potent symbols, sensations and messages that reflect and inform our daily waking life. Developing a practice of tapping into this channel and these messages is a great way to understand yourself and your subconscious more deeply.
A helpful first step in embarking on a journey to better understand your dreams is to simply cultivate awareness of your personal dream world. One of the ways you can begin to develop a familiarity with your dream world is to keep a dream journal. A dream journal can be a notebook and writing utensil or you can utilize an audio journal (most phones have a voice memo or recording option.) While there is benefit to the hand brain connection of hand writing out your dreams, audio journaling can allow for a more rapid stream of consciousness delivery that records your dream reflections quickly, rather than taking the time to write them all out.
If you decide to keep a dream journal, a helpful first exercise is to begin by asking yourself a few simply questions. The list below is a great place to start.
- Do you remember your dreams?
- What feels different about a waking daydream and a sleeping dream?
- What senses are typically engaged in your dream world? Do you dream in sound, image, color? Is there scent or taste involved? Do you have sensations of touch?
- Are you aware of your body in your dreams? Your dream body or physical sleeping body?
- Do you have lucid awareness that you are in fact dreaming?
- What is the perspective of your dreams? First person? Omniscient?
- Are your dreams linear? Coherent?
- How is your emotional world involved or impacted in your dreams?
- How do you interact with others in the dream world?
- Are there elements of your waking life present in the dream?
Exploring these basic questions can provide insight into your dream nature and the ways in which your dream world operates. Understanding your personal dreaming signature is the first step in working with your dreams. Take some time to reflect on these questions regularly to discover any patterns that may emerge. From there you can begin to interrogate and interpret your dreams standard framework and symbolism.
Another helpful practice for engaging dream work is to create a ritual or practice before bed to prepare you for dreaming. Some of the practices that may be helpful include:
- Preparing your space.
- Preparing your mind.
- Preparing your body.
First, prepare your space. Before you lie down to rest be mindful of your atmosphere. What objects are present in the room? What other people may be present? How can you cultivate a safe and comfortable sleeping space amidst other items or entities? A few practices you can engage to prepare your space involve curating the atmosphere to support all of your basic senses.
- Smell: Use calming scents like lavender, chamomile, bergamot, jasmine. Spray them onto your pillow or use a body-safe oil behind your ears or on your chest. You can also diffuse oils into your atmosphere, just be sure to double check that the oils are pet safe if you have pets around.
- Hear: What are the sounds present? Are they distracting or supportive of your dream state? You may want to use a white noise or sound machine to create a gentle hum. You can use binaural beats for sleep, dreams and rest or healing solfeggio frequencies. Perhaps you prefer silence and need the support of earplugs. Listen in and ask yourself what you need.
- Sight: How is the lighting in your room? Do you need the support of black out curtains? Do you share the room with someone who stays up later and needs a light on? If so, can you use an eye pillow or mask to darken your space? What level of darkness do you need to find your state of peaceful rest?
- Touch: What do you feel? What is the temperature around you? Do you sleep best in a cool or warm atmosphere? What do you wear to bed? Do you need to reconsider the fabrics and texture of your blankets or clothing? Do you prefer to have more or less clothing on? Is your sleeping space comfortable? How can you enhance the comfort of your body with the objects around you?
- Taste: Do you drink or eat anything before bed? Do you need a pallet cleanser? Do you fall asleep better when your mouth is fresh and clean? A teeth-cleaning ritual can be helpful to signal we are done consuming for the day and are ready to enter the rest and repair phase of our day.
In addition to the sense checks, a few best practices for entering the sleeping state also include- turning off or silencing all your electronic devices, limiting your exposure to blue light, and avoiding caffeine at least 4-6 hours before bed.
Once you have cultivated a comfortable sleeping environment you will want to signal to your brain that you are cultivating awareness of the dreaming world. As you get into bed get out your dream journal and write a statement or question about what you would like to explore in your dreams. Our dreams can be powerful places to safely explore tough questions and emotions. Even if we cannot easily discern the messages of our dreams, they can have potent impacts on our inner processing.
If you are new to dream work and the world of symbols, you can start broad. For example, you may ask your dreams some of the following questions or give yourself the task of exploring something in particular:
- Reveal to me my talents, gifts and abilities.
- What am I neglecting to see about this person?
- Show me the truth of the matter that I am missing.
- How can I advance in my career?
- I allow myself to process and grieve an old relationship.
- I would like to visit somewhere tropical.
Be sure to date the question or statement once you have written it, put your journal away and allow your mind and body to relax. Once you are in bed, begin by taking a few deep, calming breaths to settle into your space. You can use the provided guided meditation to support relaxation or simply cultivate a breathing practice of your own until you are in a deep and restful sleep.
When you wake from your dream, be sure to document the features of the dream immediately. To best recall your dreams, it can help to stay still in the same position you woke up in without much movement. You may even try keeping you eyes closed. These are moments where audio journaling your dreams can help as it allows you to stay more stationary as you stream of consciousness speak and document what you recall. You can go back to listen to your audio later and hand write in your journal if you so desire. When writing, you may freely write the dream as it comes to you or you can use this set of questions as a starting place:
- Chronlogize the dream. What was the beginning, middle, and end?
- What age was I in my dream? What did I look like?
- Who was in my dream? What was our relationship? What were our feelings toward one another? What were our behaviors toward one another?
- Where was I? What was the location or environment?
- What was the most noticeable feeling or emotion in the dream?
- What remarkable images or symbols appeared in the dream?
- Did I hear anything?
- Was I trying to accomplish something in the dream?
- Was I an observer of someone or something in the dream?
You can repeat this process for each dream you have in one cycle of sleep. If you don’t feel you are getting clear answers to your questions from your dreams right away that is okay and don’t give up! The dream world is vast and complex and it takes practices to understand all it’s many messages and intricacies. One helpful tip for understanding the strange and irregular symbols and images that may appear in your dreams is to get a book of symbols and symbolism. These books can provide helpful insight on the meanings of varying symbols across time and cultures and history. Integrating the metaphorical and abstract meaning of symbols into your dream study is another helpful way to form a more personal relationship with you subconscious.
You may discover that the deeper you get into your dream world, the more complex your dreams’ symbols and layers become. Be sure to keep a dream journal so you can track your own personal understanding of symbols and structures that appear. If a symbol, person or place appears regularly, look into it, journal about it, explore possible explanations as to why. Anyone can do dream work and there are varying stages to how dream work might function. Incorporating these simple practices is a great way to begin and you may be amazed with what you discover!