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.

———————-

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

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Recycling a half-remembered dream (pondering)

So you’re whizzing around like a bird through the air, or hanging out with your favorite fiction protagonist or maybe even getting a handshake from the super charismatic boss of the galaxy  when tragedy strikes. You wake up.

“Wow! What an amazing dream, I can’t wait to write it down or share it with friends,” you’ll think, rolling out of bed beaming with pride. But after a warm shower and a cup-o-joe all too often the second tragedy strikes, you can’t remember most of it.

 

For me this happens all the time and generally bothers the heck out of me. I can’t help but much of the day dwelling on the fantastic but cloudy images left as a residue on my conscious mind. So what is there to do about it? Well quite frankly I don’t know, but I have some ideas I’d like to bounce off of you all.

I figure the best way to teach is by example, so I’ll begin with some dream-fragments I have left from last night. The first is of a friend of mine who every time I looked at him I saw broad shoulders and neat military dress, but every time I looked away he looked slob-ish with a protruding belly. The second is of an particularly shiny void shaped as the human body, it looked proud and wonderful but I was left with the lingering feeling of impermanence .

The first idea I had to recycle these fragments is to write them into poetry, for this I’ll choose the easiest format: a haiku.

Eyes on a proud shape

Such is sight to beauty bring

lo, impermanence

What possessed me to add the shakespearian “lo” to that haiku I may never know. Once I wrote it I couldn’t allow myself to take it out because strangely it makes sense to me. Point being a haiku may be a good way to extract meaning from a rarified dream.

Another idea I had was to use the dream(s) to develop some kind of character description.

In this case I imagine a man with the ability to change the world just by his sight of it. In essence this would derive from the burst of intellectual joy someone has when they discover the word “perception” and want to go around telling everyone how they see the world differently from the person next to them. But I would make this character the literal extreme of that, making it so that he always sees the world more positively despite the knowledge that it may be otherwise.

A character like that could be very useful as inspiration for doodles, short stories, music or make for a neat imaginary friend. I don’t know, heck, do what you want with it.

Any other ideas? Maybe with a bit of creative recycling we can all clean up some disk space off our waking minds and be more proactive dreamers (that sounds pretty contradictory but I promise it’s possible).

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Dissected Dreams

Dream interpretation is as subjective as the dreams themselves. There is no one way to go about interpreting a dream, but there are a few good things to keep yourself reminded of in the process. 

Carl Jung began a discussion on this topic in Man and His Symbols (1964) by emphasizing that there are two different things encountered in dreams. There are signs which are always less than the concept that they represent and symbols which always represent more than their obvious meaning. 

Signs in dreams are typically things which contribute to an overall theme in the dream, whereas symbols give the dream a “point.” The tricky part is determining what is a sign and what is a symbol as relevance is not always linked to importance in the time of the dream. Arbitrary objects can be key symbols while main characters or scenarios can be just signs to continue the plot. 

In Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) he references the mystical feeling of dreams in our morning recollection of them. He continues to mention that the great majority of dreams will lead us back to our everyday life rather than release us from it. The content of dreams is determined by the personality, age, sex, education and habits of the person who dreams them. In that way it is essential to look not at the symbols as having some kind of set meaning but rather look for your own reaction to said symbols. 

What I mean to get across through all of this is that when you’re attempting the process of dream interpretation it is not the dream you’re interpreting, but yourself. Stigmas of everyday life do not apply in dreams and you should avoid applying them. If you have sexual contact with a friend from years ago in a dream try not to immediately interpret it as a fantasy and consider your own meanings of sex and that person. 

After all, in dreams and in reality not everything is what it seems. 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB

Memory on the fritz? Don’t give up!

I’ll say this as much to you all as I do to myself: When it seems like the dreams just wont come, keep trying! Even if you get one bizarre sentence into your dream journal every morning it’s better than nothing. Every little bit counts.

It’s hard to teach something like dream recording where the results do not always match the effort. It can be discouraging to even try when memorable dreams are rare.

Supplements like Fish-oil and multivitamins can be used to help improve memory recall. Also in Thomas Yuschak’s book “Advanced Lucid Dreaming The Power of Supplements,” Piracetam is said to increase the vividness of dreams if taken in low dosages immediately after experiencing a lucid dream. I’d say that seems like a tough moment to pinpoint to take a pill, but I figured I’d mention it for the sake of intrigue. 

I’ve never been one to take any kind of supplements. I find it important to learn how to deal with the “lows” in your relationship with your dreams. When frustrated, I often begin to dismiss dreams as “meaningless” and slack on my recording routine. 

It’s important to avoid letting this kind of burn-out thinking lessen your faith in dreams. Remember that no matter what every night you have a dream. It can be long or short, vivid or faded and even just wacky but they all mean something. 

If you haven’t remembered last night’s dream, that’s ok. Try again tomorrow! Trust me that your unconscious mind won’t be silent any time soon. 

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

Angels and Dreamons

A Dream

I was standing outside on my balcony at night. As I looked out I found there was another apartment building across the road. The other building had a single balcony protruding from its shadowed bulk. I looked closer at the balcony. An ominous black mist emanated from the balcony . As I zoned in to the scene I felt my eyes lose focus.

An angelic figure appeared above me, glowing in white light. I pointed in the direction of the balcony across the way, hoping to bring his attention to the evil aura. I felt him fly away, but from my balcony could only see a glowing white light sinking into indistinct blackness. The white light came back soon after, but still my eyes were unfocused.

Thoughts

Dreams are a place of contrast. With a bit of thought archetypal themes can sometimes be found in dreams. These themes often revolve around simple things like what is large vs. small, what is bright vs. dim or even what is good vs. evil.

We can find these themes by focusing on what seemed important through a dream. Try asking yourself: What colors did you see? What textures did you feel? What sounds did you hear?

Oftentimes it’s not about what you actually saw or heard, but what you felt you saw or heard. If you asked me to describe the “angelic figure” of my dream I would be able to tell you that it was a figure in a bright white light. But I know it was angelic, not because I actually saw the perfect projection of an angel, but because I felt that I was looking at something that would be considered angelic.

I apologize if that seems redundant or arbitrary but I want to make a simple point. Don’t expect too much out of your dreams. You’re going to wake up with vague notions of the relationships that existed in your dreams, so take them at face value. Write what you know and interpret it later.

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

~Edgar Allan Poe

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

 

Your Avatar and You.

A major appeal of lucid dreaming is the fact that you can be whoever you want to be. Many meditative practices revolve around the recognition of a distinction between the mind and the body. It can be very healthy to give yourself the perspective of a new shell, even if it’s only subjectively.

What’s great about dreams is that your avatar, the physical representation of yourself in your dreams, is only limited by your imagination. Manipulating the dimensions of your avatar is the usual way people experience this, whether they become as tall as a building or thin as a crack in a door. However, more abstract things are entirely possible through dreams such as taking the form of an animal or the wind.

In a dream that I had just last night I took the part of a strain of seaweed being pulled along by the crashing waves of a beach. With some effort I was able to direct the aim of my drifting in order to sting the main antagonist of the dream with the jellyfish eggs tangled within me.  Admittedly this was an extremely strange dream for me, but at the same time I was glad that I had trained myself to recognize this dream’s insight.

The forms you take can be extremely interesting to observe. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to recognize that you’re an active participant in your dreams and it can also be difficult to know what you look like. Thus, the two goals to avatar recognition are knowing that you are and knowing what you are.

Knowing that you are is the basis of all lucid dreaming and comes with practice but there are some checks you can do to make it easier. Looking at text such as watches, books or phones which tend to look garbled in dreams is usually a good way to assert consciousness. Another method is to focus your energy on any specific object or person in the dream. The “anchor” typically works well for this. Focusing on something allows you to control the flow of the dream and prove your presence to yourself. There are many more methods, but these are a couple that came to mind.

Knowing what you are is where the fun part comes in. Try to take note of the perspective from which you’re viewing the dream. Are you way down at the feet of the people around you? Are you looking them right in the eyes? Or are you soaring far above them like a bird?  Mirrors are usually a lucky find in dreams as they force your mind to either create a picture of your avatar or leave it blank and give you a blatant clue to the fact that you’re dreaming. If you’re able to catch a hint of what you are try to act the part. Ebb and flow like a wave, stretch your wings like a bird or simply just breathe.

Oftentimes it’s only in retrospect that you can recognize what your role was within the dream you just had. Even if you find that you were just yourself most of the time it’s a huge step forward to know even that. Keep on trying and see what you’ll become.

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

 

Movies: The second showing is free!

If there’s one thing I’ve really come to notice about movies is how directly they influence dreams. TV shows and series can also have an influence, but movies are unique in the ability to affect your perspective in just 2-3 hours. I’d like to take a quick look at how and why movies imprint themselves in this way.

It’s late in the evening and you have a few hours to kill before bed. You curl up into your favorite recliner or just a theater seat that has no one in front so you can put your feet up. The next few hours it’ll be you and a screen, sometimes you’ll be so enraptured that you’ll  forget you’re even watching a movie. As though in a trance, you’ll dote on every quirk of the characters and twist of the plot.

Personally I’ve come to dislike watching too many movies as I feel their affect is too pronounced on my dreams. But that doesn’t mean that movies are a negative influence for lucid dreamers. In fact learning to manipulate the power of movies can give you a useful tool to have all sorts of dreams.

It’s common sense for most to think that a scary movie like The Exorcist or Insidious: Chapter 2 will cause you to have nightmares. In just the same strain of thought movies like Spirited Away or Memento can cause fanciful and thought provoking dreams. Similarly, its entirely possible to have dreams of movie universes like the Star Wars trilogy or The Avengers by having a movie marathon (bring a friend!).

I think a lot of the reason that movies become so imprinted on our subconscious is because our mind is processing the bulk of new information presented to us. The same affect happens when we read a new book, or go to a vacation somewhere exotic. The only difference being that while reading a new book or traveling may take half a day or more, movies pack all that newness into 3 hours. Superheros, demons and space stations are not things that we see on a daily basis, so our minds asses those images by reanalyzing them in our dreams. At least that’s my theory.

So why does it matter? Well it matters because fictional or not the characters in movies become symbols in our dreams long after we watch those movies. By contrasting what a movie character originally is versus our relationship with that character in our dreams we can make some interesting interpretations.

For example, I recently had a dream where Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean was sprinting around my apartment complex cutting into ship sails fastened to the side of the building with a scimitar. I wondered if I should stop him but he was running way too fast to catch. Soon he had ripped every sail attached to the apartment complex, leaving it woefully unable to go to sea again.

The unbelievably fast saboteur is quite different from the drunken free-spirited pirate from the movies. This might represent a feeling of being held back by those that once seemed fun to me. Or maybe something else entirely. What do you think?

What movie do you think has the best atmosphere?

Dream on little dreamers,

EB