How to Respond to Dream Dissatisfaction

Just a short post today, I think I’ll revisit this topic later.

Sometimes we have dreams that we just plain don’t like. It seems like the easiest way to get back at an unpleasant dream is to forget it, and “just leave this one off the books” so to speak.

I’ll admit that I’ve done this countless times (literally countless because there is no record of the times I’ve done it). Earlier this week I had a friend ask me about whether I have dreams that are too dissatisfactory to record. I answered: “Of course! But I do everything I can to fight that urge and record them anyway.” I provided the example of a nightmare I had where I was the victim of an alleyway rape. It was extremely difficult to motivate myself to record the details of this dream but that struggle paid large dividends on my post-record satisfaction.

From that dream there were many deep-seated themes that I felt were not often approached by my dreams. It seems to me that unpleasant dreams are pockmarked with meaning, which may be part of why they’re so distasteful to wake up from. I find that I’m usually quite grumpy when I wake from these dreams.

It’s a much healthier approach altogether to approach the troubles of your unconscious mind than to repress them. It is a natural product of dream recording that you’re going to have unconscious experiences that are extremely unpleasant to offset the pleasant ones that will also come. Each time I asses one of these dreams I find that I am deeply fulfilled by studying them.

deeply-troubling-Grumpy-Cat

So try to think of Grumpy Cat next time you want to grumpily toss aside your journal.

Dream on Little Dreamers,

EB

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A Recording Revolu(a)tion

Recording dreams is hard, like sorting a grocery bag full of Magic ™ cards under a dose of morphine hard, but damn is it worth it. So lets talk about how to see the forest for the trees and how to equip yourself for ease.

In the past five months I’ve been experimenting with using an audio recording device to supplement my journaling practices. It’s been extremely effective for extracting dreams from days where grogginess or morning responsibility would leave them to exile. The audio plays out like a yawn-fest ramble, but the point gets across. Personally, I have a lot more peace of mind hitting the snooze button after taking a few minutes to note that space alien that was just about to eat me moments before.

I want to stress that there is no cost barrier to entry for this style of dream recording. To quote our Apple overlords “there’s an app for that.” There are free audio recording apps in abundance on smart phone and tablet app stores.

On my IPhone I’ve used the free Voice Memos app and was satisfied with the quality; my only complaint is the transferred file defaults to entering your iTunes library. I’ve dabbled more with audio apps in the Android app store and would recommend the free Smart Voice Recorder app. I’ll often switch between my Android tablet and my Sony device depending on which is closest when I wake up.

Let’s lighten up and talk about wiggly dream-stuff. I find that dreams recorded with audio have a different feel than written ones upon review. Audio has a way of catching the discreet details of dreams at face-value while words tend to capture higher themes and roll with them. As an alternative metaphor, on a canvas audio dreams would look like water colors applied with a spoon while written dreams would look more like acrylic applied with a window wiper.

There are strengths and weaknesses to both, but using them in conjunction is a good way to adapt to your morning circumstances. The greatest danger to someone seeking to lucid dream is burnout when a few dreams are forgotten. Why wouldn’t you equip yourself with more tools to catch your inner self before it slips from you?

I’d like to finish this post with an experimental dream record analysis of something on my Sony from last night, which may give you some idea of the dialogue.

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I had a dream that I woke up in a computer chair in the middle of a Renaissance fair. My chest hurt and I wondered if I had slept incorrectly [a pain that I attributed on record to weight-lifting strains]. Everyone was in costume and I knew I had to blend, I grabbed a heavy blue blanket and tied it as a cape as the start of my own costume. I needed a mask and saw a stand with a child’s Transformer mask that was also blue [on record I grumbled that it wasn’t cool enough for me]. I met an old friend Kristina and her fiancee Rene [on record I mused how radiant she looked in her pregnancy, talked briefly about how beautiful her baby bump and her enchanting happiness].

[[[At this point there is a nearly incoherent section about a damaged wedding-cake, a black child facedown on the floor, and a large group of costumed people — this apparently was a bad dream sign that I decided not to express to Rene in the dream]]].

Rene [who I noted I’ve never actually met in real life] and I got along well in the dream, I asked him about his experience in the peace corps as we walked down some royal-looking white stairs. Kristina interrupted his answer by bounding down the steps 2-3 steps at a time [above Rene’s head I saw a thought bubble that expressed 5/5 stars, a concept that I have trouble describing in writing even now]. We get to the bottom of the steps and all start running through this gorgeous mansion: the floors made of checkered peach/black marble, the walls etched with “long dead important people.”

They ran past me towards another staircase that was wider at the bottom than the top, it lead to heights I couldn’t see. As I tried to catch up a decrepit woman appeared from an airport walkway [I had great trouble describing this object in audio, and bumbled my words for awhile] off to the left and told me “Turn back! this is a museum, you’re not supposed to be here.”  I considered whether to tell her that I wasn’t the only one there, but as I looked up and saw them holding hands walking up the steps [they looked so happy, I can almost hear myself smile], I decided against it – apologizing for my transgression and walking away.

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As you can see there’s a certain monologue that takes place alongside the dream. It can be difficult to extricate the observations of my grumpy morning self from those I experienced during the dream. I hope this gives you some idea of what an audio record feels like and that I’ve made you a bit curious to try it for yourself.

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Lucid Dreaming: The Basics.

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For the sake of ease of understanding I’m going to explain lucid dreaming in my own words. This is to say that I will not do any outside research for this post and will instead focus on the key basics which stand out as prominent in my mind after 5 years of lucid dreaming practice.

 

The first and most important thing was the subject of my last post: Write down your dreams! Even starting with the most vague memories is useful along your path to lucidity. Pictured above is an example of how an entry I made looked after I could only remember a few hazy facts. As you can tell the sentences are disjointed and oddly placed, in fact I’d be the first to admit that looking back on this story I hardly have an idea of what it was about at the time. The purpose of writing your dreams is not to document them for further use, rather it is to study your memories so that you may become stronger at recollecting them
To this end your notes should be taken in whatever way you feel suitable. Whether it be in drawings, lists and/or full sentences (I often use a combination of the three) just get down whatever you can whenever you can. A disclaimer: don’t allow this to make you lazy in your recollections, the more you remember the more you should write down. It won’t take long for you to realize that oftentimes the little details are the quirkiest in dreams anyway, which is always fun.
Secondly, it is key that you develop a healthy sleeping schedule. I know this will probably be the most painful part for a lot of you (it sure was for me). It takes an hour and a half to complete a full REM cycle. Only about 30 of those minutes are spent in deep, restful sleep and fewer time still is allotted to prime lucid dreaming time. It is my experience that unless I’m getting at least two REM cycles (three hours) I have a very small chance of developing any meaningful dream experience. Three hours alone for a night can be detrimental to your health for obvious reasons, there is however a variety of alternative sleep schedules such as the “Uberman“. I have no experience in that topic, but I do think it will make for an interesting post with some research in the future.
Back to the point, giving yourself ample restful sleep is key. I also recommend using relaxing music, incense or meditation videos to ease your way into sleep. The more at ease you go into dreaming the more likely that you’ll have a pleasant, meaningful dreams as opposed to “stress dreams” (such as falling and delusions of missed assignments). Some ambient chill music that I would recommend are bands like Trentemoller, Royksopp and Air France to start. A youtuber I found recently, lillium, has an array of relaxation videos meant to put you to sleep.
My last bit of advice is the “anchor.” In the popular movie Inception the spinning top was the example of the character’s hook into reality. It is your duty to find an object that is comfortable to you to learn intimately. I feel as though a top may be a little cumbersome to carry around so try something that’s already on your person. A watch, bracelet or ring is often a good choice. Objects that will be around your hands/arms are nice because you’ll see them over the course of the day whether you like it or not.
The reason for this odd practice is to serve as a way for you to know the difference between the sleep world and the real world. To do this you have to habitually analyze your chosen object and learn it’s form. You’ll find that if you successfully develop a habit of checking the object you will also do so in your dreams. When you see the object in your dreams it is your goal to be able to recognize the flawed details in the object. This small logic exercise has the power to give you conscious control during your dreams. The first few times you do this you might wake yourself up in the middle of the night, but it’s worth it! Examples of this dreaming phenomena include: A watch that has the numbers mixed around, a bracelet being made of twine instead of gold or maybe a pair of glasses that has too many frames.
Don’t worry yourself too much about mastering that last part just yet, that’s the part that takes the most practice. For now just try and find an object and stick to it, wear it or carry it everywhere. Personally I’ve managed to lose 3 of my anchor’s so far (my propensity for being a air-head far outweighs my skill with lucid dreaming, clearly), so don’t fret too much over your selection just get it done.

Dream on little dreamers,
EB