Dreams are a valuable source of information. Maybe this information comes from the truest part of ourselves, one that runs deeper than the surface drama of the waking world. Maybe it comes from some source outside of us, divine or otherwise. Whatever their origin may be, dreams are crucial part of who we are. The insight they give us about our reality is as important as the information we get from our eyes, ears and other senses. Without it, we don't have the complete picture. As my mother always says, "There's what's going on, and then there is what's really going on." We need this connection to our dream life to know the whole story of our experience.
How do we access this wealth of information, and more importantly, use it to our advantage? Over the years, I have observed 3 things that help me engage with my dreams and integrate them into my waking world.
Of course the first step is remembering your dreams, which can be tricky. It involves carefully observing your waking process, or how you transition from your sleeping world to your waking world. If you can become aware of your "resurfacing" while it is happening, you can then try to bring back any souvenirs from your journey. Souvenir just means memory. You can hold on to these memories when you come back to the other side.
Practice and learn what works for you, and you will develop your own tricks for remembering your dreams. One trick I have learned is labeling. This is like creating keywords for your dreams. It is especially useful if you get interrupted during your waking process (kids, dogs, alarms, spouse) or if you are trying to bring back many dreams at once. If you feel a dream slipping away from you, try to label it with an identifying main idea, object, or person. If you can remember the label, you can use it later to jog your memory when you have time to actually reconstruct all the details of the story.
Once you remember your dream, start to walk through it step by step, describing all the details in your head. Writing it down helps with this process. If you don't have time to write, you can also tell it to someone. (Important: This should be someone close to you, whom you trust, and who is willing participant. My sister and I literally have a running joke about how much she HATES listening to my dreams! It is something I reserve for when I feel the need to torture her.) The important thing is to verbalize the experience. When you recount the story, the details get processed and organized by your rational mind. This allows you to see patterns and meanings that you may not have noticed when you were in the dream itself. The perspective of your waking mind will give you valuable insight into what your dream actually "means" or what information is there that may be useful in some way. Keeping a dream journal is ideal for this reason, and for the next tip...
If you record your dreams, they will be there whenever you need to revisit them. This is why keeping a dream journal is so helpful. Not only because we forget things, but because when you write down your dream, you connect to the intensity of the emotion that was present when it was fresh in your mind. Reading it again can then help you relive the experience beyond what you would be able to conjure from memory. Also, a dream that may have seemed insignificant at the time, could turn out to have important meaning later. It's like putting an ear to the ground of your subconscious. You may be hearing rumblings of things to come.
If you notice you have certain types of dreams, you can even organize them in a way that makes them easier to reference. For example, you may consistently have flying dreams, or dreams about a certain person. Labeling these or grouping them together can help when you want to go back and look at them later. It can also heighten your awareness of themes and commonalities that may reveal additional useful information. Revisiting your dreams can help you benefit from them throughout your lifetime.
There is obviously so much more to delve into on this topic, especially during these troubling times. There has been a lot of talk about people having dreams related to the pandemic, and how it has effected our global consciousness. Bringing dreams into the light of day can help dispel fears and work through difficult emotions. It can also provide comic relief, creative inspiration, and feelings of love and support. Dreaming is such an amazing part of being human, and nurturing a connection to your dreams is beautiful way to bring forth the magic inherent in being alive every day.