Electric Dreams

The Lucid Bird's Words
The Six Basic Steps to Lucid Dreaming Step 3: 
 Keeping a Dream Journal

Marc Vandekeere

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  Vandekeere, Marc (2000 June). The Lucid Bird's Words: The Six Basic Steps to Lucid Dreaming -- Step 3 : Keeping a Dream Journal. Column. Electric Dreams 7(6). Retrieved July 14, 2000 from Electric Dreams on the World Wide Web: http://www.dreamgate.com/electric-dreams

Step 3 : Keeping a dream journal

The Six Basic Steps by Marc Vandekeere

The following is an excerpt from my manual, The Ultimate Lucid Dreaming Manual Basics and Beyond. I hope it can be used to maximize your lucid dreaming progress. If you find this information helpful you may want to check out my lucid dreaming website for further info, tips, resources and more. The URL of my site is http://how.to/luciddream and if you have any questions, feedback or comments, feel free to send me an email. I'm always happy to hear from other dreamers and love to help out. if and when I can, thelucidbird@mediaone.net . Stay lucid.

So now we've come to the payoff. In order to make this material more user-friendly, the information has been divided into four categories, and there will also be an summarized outline at the end of the manual. By getting an overview at a glance, it may be easier for you to thoroughly learn, absorb and internalize all the information. Hopefully, it will help tighten all the concepts into one working whole.

The Process
Section One - The Six Basic Steps
Section Two - Other methods
Section Three - General tips
Section Four - Tools and Tactics

All these sections have one objective - teaching you how to become lucid in your dreams. After you've learned the process, methods, tips, tools, and tactics, we'll cover the more advanced techniques that you will need to know once you become lucid.

The Process

There are many techniques and methods that you can use for inducing lucid dreams, but there are basically two different ways of becoming lucid. You can either have dream-induced or wake- induced lucid dreams. Stephen LaBerge coined the term D.I.L.D. (Dream Induced Lucid Dream) for dreams in which you become lucid while within a dream. By training your awareness, you will somehow realize that you are dreaming while you are dreaming. This is by far the most common way of having a lucid dream, but it is also possible to directly enter a lucid dream from a waking state. These Wake Induced Lucid Dreams, or W.I.L.D.s, are far more rare, but as LaBerge so aptly labeled them, they are quite an experience. While covering the basics we will be dealing primarily with dream induced lucid dreams. When we move beyond the basics, we will be dealing with the more advanced techniques that will include inducing W.I.L.D.s. There are many methods to induce lucid dreams, but there is an underlying process behind most if not all of them. I've broken this underlying process down into six basic steps that will serve as our beginning regime. Once you absorb these steps and start following them, it is only a matter of time before you have your first lucid dream. In case you are wondering how long it will take for you to have you first one, just follow through with the steps and have faith that you will have one.

According to statistics, the time it takes for someone to have their first lucid dream averages from three weeks to two months, but yours may be tonight so don't be discouraged if you try for a while and don't succeed. There seems to be an obsession in our society for instant results. If you are one of these people, realize that this is one of your first obstacles to overcome. Only one thing is certain - If you never stop trying, you are guaranteed to succeed.

The Six Basic Steps

1) Doing the Mental Prep-Work - see Electric Dreams 7(4) April 2000
2) Increasing dream recall -FOCUS THIS MONTH
3) Keeping a dream journal
4) Becoming familiar with your Dreams
5) Adding Awareness to your Waking Consciousness
6) Linking your Awareness to your Dreams

Step Three) Keeping a dream journal

The *single most important thing* that you can do to increase your dream recall and to maximize your lucid dreaming progress is to keep a dream journal. This increases your recall by ingraining the idea that dreams are important. It also helps you become familiar with your particular dreams, which is the focus of the next step. The habit of writing down your dreams soon becomes a habit of recalling your dreams. If you seriously want to learn to lucid dream, you MUST keep a dream journal. It is not an option.

I strongly emphasize this because I know from experience that keeping a journal is a crucial part of the process. I had been trying to lucid dream for several months with little success until I started keeping one. Shortly after I started consistently making my dream journal entries, I began to recall more dreams with greater clarity and detail, and this led to my first lucid dream. Even now after years of lucid dreaming, I still see a significant correlation. If I neglect my dream journal, my lucid dreams become slightly less frequent. All it usually takes is a few days of making entries and I will be back on the lucid track.

Here are some tips on keeping your journal. Record all of your dreams with as much detail as you can. Even if something seems trivial, you should still write it down because it may turn out to be significant when viewed in the long run. Write down not only what happened during the dream but also what you were feeling and what you were thinking at the time. These emotional and mental notes will help you later when you are becoming familiar with your dreams. This will also help you see how your daily affairs and your waking mind influence your dreams. For example, you may notice during times of stress that you will have stress-influenced dreams. You may dream of being late for an exam or being unprepared for a business meeting. The point is that your dreams are sending you a message. They are reflecting what you think and feel at a subconscious level. Looking at the patterns of your dreams and examining the recurrence of certain dream themes will tell you a lot about yourself and the areas in your life that need attention. This is yet another reason why keeping your dream journal is so important. It allows you to have an overview of your unique dream patterns which are actually
symbolic reflections of an ever changing you.

When keeping your journal, it is best to write your entries in present tense instead of using past tense. For example, you would write, "I'm walking down this street and I see a man" instead of "I walked down this street and saw a man." By writing in the present tense, you may be able to remember even more of your dreams as you are recording them. Also, when working with some of the methods we will cover later like dream reentry and dream incubation, it is best to be thinking and recording in terms of now not then. As an added bonus, writing in the present tense makes for better reading when you are reviewing your journal at a later date.

With each dream journal entry, you should include a date, a time if you can, and a title for each dream. To find a suitable name for your dream, imagine if it was a movie and choose the most appropriate title. Something simple is usually best as long as it captures the essence of the dream. Anything from "Red ants in a rainforest" to "Class reunion on an airplane" will be fine. If you have several different dreams during the night, it is best to separate and title each one. Mixing separate dreams together may make the dream's message harder to find and may make choosing a distinctive title nearly impossible. The main purpose of titling your dreams is to make them easier to access at a glance when you are looking through your dream journal.

Now, if you are like me or like most people, I am assuming one of two things. You are either going to think you can learn to lucid dream without keeping a dream journal or else you will start keeping a dream journal and before you know it, it will be gathering dust next to that book you've been planning on reading for about a year. I say this only because I thought the same way. Not to say that it could not be done, anything is possible, but why not increase your odds, maximize your results, and speed up the process with a proven method. Once you get into the habit of keeping your journal, it will become a daily routine like putting your clothes on in the morning. You just need to do it and consistently follow through with it. Keeping a dream journal is definitely not the easiest thing to do. I have spent many a day thumbing through random pieces of papers scribbled with dream accounts. Although it gets easier with time, in the beginning it may be helpful to follow some of the following pointers.

To make the journalizing process easier I have several suggestions based on different approaches I have tried combined with the advice of others. At first glance, it seems like such a simple thing. You dream, you wake up, and you write down your dreams, but there is much more to it than that. For example, when you awaken if you start writing in your journal as you are recalling the previous night's dreams, it is hard to remember everything accurately in the right sequence. You may have already moved on to a new scene but then you remember something you had forgotten. This prompted me to write everything I could remember on a sheet of paper and then after doing this I would write an organized account of it in my journal. This works fine if you have lots of free time but with time being a valuable commodity it is rather inefficient.

Along with the difficulty of balancing your time and determining how organized you need to have your journal, another problem you will encounter is the simple fact that you have to do a lot of writing which in itself can become monotonous. The best approach is to recall all that you can in your head before writing anything, but even so you probably will remember more as you are writing. By recording your dreams only on the right-hand pages of the journal, you can write late arriving memories on the left-hand page and conveniently draw an arrow to the portion of the dream in which it occurred. You can also use the left-hand pages to draw pictures of any dream objects or maps of the dreamscape. This tip may require you to buy double the amount of journals, but if you want more organized entries it certainly works.

If you do choose to use this method, you should use the left-hand pages to record what you did while awake that day, where you went, who you saw, or any other details of your day. Whether you use the left/right page method or not, you should include this daily information somewhere in your journal, preferably on the same page as your dream entries. This can be very helpful when you are looking for patterns in your dreams. For example, I have found that I will often dream about things I have seen or experienced from two days before or two days after the dream. If I watched a program about natural disasters on Monday, I would not be surprised if I dreamed about it on Wednesday. If I dream about a person who I have not heard from in a while, they will usually call me two days later. I don't know why it happens, but by analyzing my dreams and the journal entries of what I did for the day, I have found this to be one of my dream patterns.

Many people recommend using a dictaphone to record your dreams. Upon awakening you can just speak your dreams aloud into the recorder, and enter them into your journal later. I've tried this method and found that for me this is not the way to go. It is not very time efficient. It certainly is easier to record them verbally, but the problem comes when you are transcribing these tapes. It takes far too long to listen to these recordings and write them down in your journal. Also, you still have the problem of trying to keep the dream's sequencing in order and this becomes even more troublesome when using a dictaphone or tape recorder.

There are many different styles of journal keeping and everyone may have a natural preference, but if you want to save some time and you have access to a computer than you may be in luck.. Learning mostly through trial and error, I have developed an extremely easy and efficient method. Prompted by the idea of how wonderful it would be if my dictaphone could write up my journal entries for me, I employed the help of my personal computer. There are many reasonably priced speech to text recognition programs available for most home computers. I purchased a program called IBM ViaVoice98 for around fifty dollars. After installing and setting up the program, it will convert what you say directly into text on your computer screen. You can speak at a normal pace and it does all the typing for you. Most importantly, you can use it directly with Microsoft Word, a common word processing program. This allows you to dictate directly into the word processor and when you are done you can save it as a file and store it in your new computerized dream journal.

The speech to text program is by no means flawless, but it works just fine for a dream journal. It may make an occasion error but the journal entries as a whole are relatively legible and the time saved is enormous. Having a few jumbled words here and there is much easier to correct than doing everything by hand. It completely removes the burden of writing down your dreams, and it totally solves the problem of jumbled dream sequences because you can cut and paste any misplaced dream fragments into the appropriate places. If you have the resources, this is by far the easiest and most efficient way of keeping a dream journal.

There is also a wide variety of dream journal software available on the Internet and possibly at your local computer store. Two of the better programs available are Awaken98 by Awake-software.com and Alchera Suite 3 by Mythwell.com. They are reasonably priced between thirty to forty dollars depending on the program. These programs can be extremely useful for keeping an organized journal, analyzing your dreams, and cross- referencing past dreams. They have features that allow you to search your journal for particular words. For example, if you were interested in examining any dreams with beaches in them, you could search your entire journal for a keyword like "beach", and the program would scan and retrieve any dream entries that contain the keywords. This can be an extremely efficient way of analyzing your dream patterns. They even contain a feature that allows you to look up the meaning of particular dream images by using a built-in dream dictionary. As you become more familiar with your own dream symbolism, you can even personalize the definitions to reflect your own specific meanings.

The wonders of modern technology are beginning to put an end to the paper-based journal. With all the benefits of dream journal software it definitely seems to be the way to go, but there is one problem. I have not found any programs that have integrated the speech to text capability. Since this speech to text method outperforms any other methods I have found thus far, the best way to overcome this problem is to use a dream journal program that can import text like Awaken98. This way you can take advantage of the both benefits. You can journalize your dreams with a speech to text program using your word processor and then copy and paste the text into the dream journal program. Again, if you have access to a computer you should seriously consider incorporating it into your dreaming regime, and if you don't have a computer, you may now have a need for one.

NEXT MONTH Step Four: Becoming familiar with your Dreams